José Mourinho’s Manchester United are not the first side to defeat Antonio Conte’s Chelsea or even the first side to defeat Conte’s Chelsea since their season-changing switch to 3-4-3 back in October but no other side has nullified Chelsea’s attacking threats so effectively. This was the first time for a decade that Chelsea did not have a shot on target in a Premier League match. Joe Theismann Authentic Jersey Suddenly, with Tottenham only four points behind, the title race is back on and Chelsea’s remaining opponents have a tactical template to follow.
Mourinho’s primary strategy was simple: man-marking Eden Hazard, Chelsea’s dangerman and the player he fell out with so spectacularly last season. This should not have come as a surprise, considering Mourinho used this approach in the recent 1-0 FA Cup quarter-final defeat at Stamford Bridge, when Phil Jones was deployed in that role but Ander Herrera was dismissed for fouling Hazard when the Belgian drifted into his zone. http://www.footballredskinsprostore.com/Joe_Theismann_Jersey_Cheap Herrera was given that responsibility on Sunday and played the role to perfection. Only one player in the Premier League, Middlesbrough’s speedy winger Adama Traoré, has dribbled past opponents more frequently than Hazard this season, yet at Old Trafford he did not attempt a single dribble. He was starved of possession, starved of space and Herrera deserves great credit for his diligence.
It was peculiar, however, that Hazard and Chelsea did not have an obvious plan for combating this man-marking approach, considering Mourinho had showcased these tactics in that FA Cup meeting. Anthony RendonAuthentic Jersey Indeed, while Mourinho complained that Herrera’s dismissal was the turning point in that match, with some justification, Chelsea had grown into the contest before his red card, precisely because Hazard and Willian drifted around, swapped positions, and confused United’s man-marking.
At Old Trafford Hazard did not show enough tactical intelligence to drag Herrera into uncomfortable positions and Chelsea’s attacking play suffered badly. http://www.officialnationalstore.com/Anthony_Rendon_Jersey Conte’s decision to switch wing-backs César Azpilicueta and Victor Moses after half an hour, putting the latter to the left, was seemingly to provide more attacking intent down that flank and to let Hazard drift around.
Herrera’s man-marking role meant he played little part in Manchester United’s attacking play, so it was unfitting that he played the crucial pass for their opener. He intercepted a pass intended for Hazard – with an outstretched arm – before curling a wonderful ball in behind the Chelsea defence for Marcus Rashford to sprint on to and beat the advancing Asmir Begovic.