Manchester United vs Chelsea
The second of two FA Cup semi-final ties took place on Sunday evening at Wembley.
Manchester United and Chelsea were battling it out for the right to face Arsenal in the 2020 FA Cup final, after the Gunners caused something of an upset on Saturday, knocking out current holders and domestic cup experts, Manchester City.
United headed into Sunday’s tie the more in-form of the sides, though Chelsea currently hold the advantage in the league.
However, league positions were put aside at Wembley, as both Frank Lampard and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looked to move one step closer to lifting their first piece of managerial silverware.
Despite having potentially stood just 180 minutes away from his first trophy as United manager, Solskjaer opted to bench a few of his in-form stars on Sunday.
Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba were replaced by Daniel James and Fred. United also appeared to line up with a back-five.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) July 19, 2020
Chelsea’s most notable change saw Willy Caballero come in for Kepa, with the Blues having also started with five defenders.
Christian Pulisic, meanwhile, started on the bench, due to a slight knock.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) July 19, 2020
Chelsea on top
The tie, unsurprisingly, started in rather cagey fashion, with neither side able to dominate proceedings.
The first decent chance of the game came for Chelsea, with David de Gea punching away a thunderous long-range effort from Reece James.
The capital giants then began to press well, and gain the upper hand in the match.
This was shortly followed by Cesar Azpilicueta floating a deep cross to United’s back post inside 15 minutes. Marcos Alonso connected with the delivery, and probably should have done a lot better.
The first drinks break of the match came with Chelsea completely on top. United were being utterly outplayed, but the Blues were unable to find that killer ball that they have at times lacked throughout the campaign.
Man United’s first big chance of the evening came just after the half-hour mark, in the form of a Bruno Fernandes free-kick. However, the Portuguese standout’s effort was easily saved by Willy Caballero.
Kurt Zouma then had a decent chance to open the scoring, but his glancing header went wide. Both the Frenchman and Eric Bailly had to receive treatment following that opportunity, with the pair having clashed heads.
The Ivorian was then down again moments later with another head injury, this time after colliding with Harry Maguire.
The latter, after being patched up, was able to continue. Bailly, on the other hand, was withdrawn for Antony Martial, as Solskjaer changed to a back-four.
United’s formation change didn’t exactly have the most positive immediate impact, though.
At the very end of first-half injury time, Azpilicueta played a low ball across the box for Olivier Giroud to slot home.
David de Gea got a touch on the hitman’s effort, and probably should have done better.
The first 45 drew to a close with the score at 1-0, and Chelsea probably deserved leaders.
— The Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) July 19, 2020
Chelsea to face Arsenal
The second 45 began in exactly the same way that the first ended, with another de Gea error.
Brandon Williams’ poor pass was intercepted by Mason Mount, who drove forward before smashing his effort at the Spaniard who really, really should have saved it.
— The Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) July 19, 2020
The Manchester powerhouse initially responded to going 2-0 down fairly well.
Rashford burst down Chelsea’s right before launching an effort just wide.
Solskjaer also opted to call on United’s big guns after Mount’s strike, bringing on Paul Pogba and Mason Greenwood for Daniel James and Fred.
Mount could have killed the tie off just minutes after these substitutions. But the Englishman’s shot flew over the bar.
The game would eventually be wrapped up for Chelsea after 73 minutes.
Marcos Alonso’s searching cross was turned in by a Harry Maguire deflection at de Gea’s near post.
Bruno Fernandes did pull one back from the spot, as United got their obligatory penalty, but it was too little, too late.
The final-whistle blew with the score at 3-1, and Chelsea 100 percent deserved winners.
Man United’s de Gea problem
Obviously, David de Gea can’t be solely blamed for United’s latest FA Cup exit.
Solskjaer’s decision to switch to a back-five, and rest key players such as Pogba, Martial and Greenwood, really hampered the Red Devils throughout the first 45 this evening.
Chelsea and Frank Lampard should also be given credit. The Londoners controlled the tie, defended well and their full team showed an exemplary work-rate throughout the 90 minutes.
But all associated with Man United will no doubt be well aware that it was their goalkeeper’s errors that cost them vs Chelsea.
And with an in-form Dean Henderson waiting in the wings, could we see a new No.1 at Old Trafford next season?
Henderson has been superb during his stint at Sheffield United, boasting the third-most clean sheets in the Premier League this term, and looks ready to be handed his chance to shine in Manchester.
The question then faced by United, though, is what should they do with de Gea?
The 29-year-old is on a fairly hefty wage, and it is hard to foresee any club in Europe, especially in the post-COVID 19 market, wanting to splash big money on a declining de Gea.
But if Man United do continue to persist with de Gea, then Henderson could decide to take his talents elsewhere, leaving the Red Devils with a struggling, expensive No.1.