Ten Hag ditches two lazy men and the Red Devils have a new look
Manchester United won the disappointing derby 2-1 at home to Chelsea, and Ten Hag's side are just three points behind fourth-placed Manchester City in the table, with the Red Devils no longer Manchester's most dangerous club. Scott McTominay scored twice to save the boss again. Ten Hag's use of lazy strikers Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial allowed the team to play a dynamic and energetic football that was the key to shooting on target. It was also United's first win this season over a team in the top half of the table, with the Blues sitting 10th in the league and Mauricio Pochettino's side being their worst opponent at Old Trafford so far.
Under pressure, Ten Hag finally dropped two of his favourite strikers – Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial – on his own initiative. At the back, the 53-year-old Dutchman has not been "reactive", playing as a full-back in central defenders to satisfy his preference for left-footed central defenders. Harry Maguire partnered Victor Lindelof and Luke Shaw returned to the left. Manchester United's forward line, although still lacking in taking chances, is at least full of fighting spirit and fighting hard, and Manchester United's squad is more balanced overall.
The Reds could have made a good start when Enzo Fernandez foolishly stomped on Antony during a 'Mr. 100 million' conversation and the referee awarded a penalty after VAR intervened. However, Bruno Fernandez's signature small jump run did not fool the goalkeeper and Roberto Sanchez judged correctly to save a penalty that was not awkward.
If United fail to win, the captain may be suspected of being the man who wants to get rid of Ten Hag, but the Portuguese Iron Man is clearly not that kind of person, and as an absolute workhorse and training maniac, he has no intention of sacking the manager. The same can be said for Scott McTominay, who has saved the Red Devils boss on several occasions with his own goals, despite the summer window being almost purged. After this game, Wheat leads the Premier League scorer list with six goals, and he has six points directly for the Red Devils.
Like Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Ten Hag, who initially disliked McTominay, finally found that he was still the cutest player at Manchester United, just like the wheat known as the "soul of the team"! In the last 9 games, the Scottish titan started 8 times. He was once again the savior of Manchester United, winning the Man of the Match award.
Manchester United put in some of the best performances of the season against Chelsea, and Scott McTominay was the epitome of success, unobtrusive but desperate, as a midfielder, with five shots on goal alone. The post-match interview was cheered on by the crowd in the West Stand.
Both sides of this game are more attack-oriented, with leaky defence and endless scoring opportunities. Chelsea had a chance to break the deadlock after conceding a point at Fernandes. Amrabat made a mistake at the back, Mudryk slotted into the box from the left and fired a powerful shot that hit the post and bounced off the line.
Amrabat made up for it, the ball was broken in front of the attack, Garnacho crossed from the left, Maguire was blocked, McTominay grabbed the second point, stopped the ball and pushed it in one go, the ball went into the net, and Manchester United led Chelsea 1-0.
The game was suspended twice because the linesman's equipment failed, and the fans humorously chanted for substitutions. Manchester United have a chance to extend their lead, while Chelsea could also hope for an equaliser. Raheem Sterling went down in the box, but the referee ruled that Lindelof had not committed a foul. Jacquesson, on the other hand, wasted a single knife and thought about life when facing Onana.
United had 18 shots on goal in the first half, but unfortunately the team could not take the lead and return to the dressing room. In the 45th minute, Mudryk passed the ball, Palmer fired a low shot into the far corner from the left, Onana landed too slowly, the ball rolled into the net, and the score was tied 1-1 in the first half. Palmer is a "child's dream", but he joined the Manchester City academy and finally broke the door of his childhood home team for Chelsea, which is a bit embarrassing.
The second half was the same, with both sides attacking and defending, with United dominating more and more often suppressing Chelsea. Luke Shaw complained that Colwill had blocked his volley for a handball in front of goal, but the referee decided it was unintentional and did not award another penalty.
Who else could have stepped up but Scott McTominay? He created chances in quick succession for 10 minutes, including a 69th-minute header from Garnacho's cross from the left, which headed straight to the bottom of the net to give United a 2-1 lead. It was Wheat's 17th Premier League goal for United, with 13 of those (76 per cent) coming at Old Trafford, making him the king of the new theatre of dreams.
Had he grasped it a little better, McTominay could have completed his hat-trick. In particular, Chelsea goalkeeper Alexis Alexis Sanchez's mistake in the opener gave United a chance to score, but unfortunately the Scotland international's shot was not decisive enough to deflect wide.
However, compared to Manchester United's team-mates in the front line, McTominay is already considered a "miracle". Garnacho had a half-chance at one point, but was eventually caught up by Reece James to defuse it. Manchester United had 28 shots on goal but only nine on target. Other statistics show that Manchester United's expected goals in this game are 4.07 goals, the second most in the Premier League this season, but in the end they won only by the double cannon of the midfielders, and the strikers still need to review.
However, although the starting center forward Hojlund still has zero goals in the Premier League, he is very hard working and pressing high is very ferocious. When Marcus Rashford replaced the Danish striker in the final moments of the game, a small crowd booed, but more fans chanted in support. However, the facts tell Ten Hag that employing people based on form, and discarding players who are not playing as hard as they can, can give the team a better look.
Some players may not be talented enough, but better motivation allows them to contribute better to the team. Not only McTominay, but also his partner Amrabat, the Moroccan iron won the ball 11 times, won five of seven duels and had a 100 per cent success rate in three tackles. Alan Shearer said: "You can be in bad shape, but you have to make sure you give your best at all times. 」
In the final moments of the game, James crossed and Armando Broja nodded the ball off the post again, and Manchester United escaped the fate of being held to a draw, and finally won all three points 2-1. Eight of the Reds' nine Premier League victories this season have been by a single goal. United, on the other hand, have won five and drawn six of their last 11 home games against Chelsea, and have become the Blues' nemesis in May 2013.
Ten Hag insisted after the game: "It's not a crisis for us. The team has been calm, we have continued to work hard in the process, and we know what we have to improve and what to build on. Manchester United are moving in the right direction, we are not distracted by the criticism around us, we are very critical of ourselves and we are not complacent. We want to do better. If it is not done well, everyone wants to correct it and persevere to the end. It's a long season and we have to improve more if we want to be successful, but this team has the ability to do that. 」
If Ten Hag sticks to the principles of this game, United will have the same fighting spirit and a chance to finish in the Premier League top four this season. However, it is not helpful to say more, one game is not enough, and United will have to show real long-term consistency to be convincing.