The Blues leave Old Trafford with a hard fought point after prioritizing defense over offense. Chelsea did have their bright spells throughout the match but the home side looked the more comfortable and dangerous on the ball creating several opportunities on net. Despite this, the Blues made it difficult for Manchester to break them down and had to rely on shots from outside the box to really test our keeper. One poor error led to a Rashford 1v1 against Édouard Mendy who managed to make himself big and scarce and block the young Englishman’s strike to keep Chelsea in the game. Our fellow writers from All Things Chelsea answer some questions regarding the draw against United and share their thoughts and takes on the goalless match.
Konark (@konarkantani) , a dedicated Chelsea writer for ATC, gives his input on the fixture :
-Question 1: Was yesterday a good result?
-Answer: In terms of the result, of course, we always want the win in every match, so it wasn’t good result, but a draw with a clean sheet in a big game at this point is not something that I would consider a bad result at any rate, taking everything into consideration after getting over the initial disappointment that result.
-Question 2: Was sacrificing one player offensively for defense worth it to be more sound defensively for the future?
–Answer: Sacrificing one attacking player for the defense is not something that I would advocate for the long term, but for this match, I think it was important to make certain changes in order to ensure that we don’t concede after the bad moments that we’ve been having in defense, and to counter the threat posed by Bruno, Mata and Rashford in those central areas.
Question 3: Kante had a bad game offensively, should we start looking at the option of putting a more capable player on the ball or is Kante still a valuable piece to our side?
–Answer: Might be an unpopular opinion but Kante’s role is to do all the dirty work in that midfield and we need not rely on him for creativity. He needs a supporting sitting DM beside him to be free to press everywhere, run back and forth so that the opposition can not exploit the spaces. Also, I don’t think the other midfielders offer what Kante does, neither do they compensate for it by being creative as they are not the type of player who contribute massively in either attack or defense, so until we get a predominantly defensive midfielder to play there, removing Kante from there would result in an imbalance in my opinion.
Question 4: How can Chelsea find that right balance of offense and defense based on what we saw from this game?
–Answer: Chelsea, as we have seen, have been good in different departments in each of our last few games. We saw what our attack could do and how potent we look when we gave them freedom against Southampton. Then we had to hold backs against good sides and showed that we can defend and looked good structurally but our attack suffered. This is where we enter the difficult part. Finding the balance is not something that will happen overnight, and while we will probably win a few games based on individual brilliance, we will need to keep this solid base that we’ve seen in the last two games, learn to stay compact as a unit, but the attacking players need to start relaxing our attacking players and letting them do their thing while staying intact structurally for the most part. Will be difficult without a defensive minded midfielder, but I do think after some time and once we slowly lift this conservative approach, we will start attacking freely again and defending more solidly as well. There’s no timeframe that I have in mind unfortunately, but we hope it’s sooner rather than later.
Tobi Promise (@tobipromise_), our esteemed writer, shares his reaction:
Question 1: Are there more pros than cons or other way around? And why?
–Answer: I believe there are more Pros than Cons. The only notable Cons is ‘not scoring a goal’ which is understandable given the opponent we faced, and the ground we played. One of the Pros is defensive stability, no goal conceded, no penalty conceded too. Another one is more players getting minutes to create partnership. For instance, when Werner and Havertz were substituted, Mount and Abraham was brought in to form another partnership. This means the team is gelling more and more. I reckon the match sit closer to positive than negative.
Question 2: Given the performance, is trying to build a better defensive cohesion important for the time being and for the long term the key to finding the balance for our side?
Yes! Everyone knows the theme of our struggles since Lampard came in, poor defence. We already have a good attacking team, let’s focus on the defence and it will help our success for a long term. I’m not a tactic expert but I know the basic rule, to find a balance you need to consider both sides. We’ve considered attack for a long term, let’s focus on defence too.
Question 3: Kante was poor on the ball and disrupted us on final third but was strong defensively. Should Chelsea try to find more offensive fluidity, meaning exploring the exclusion of Kante based on what you saw tonight?
-Answer: About Kante, the manager knows better about his system. Sometimes what we fans see is not what the manager sees, he knows what he want from his midfield. And I’ve heard Lampard say he values Kante highly for his system. In my opinion, I also rate him for how we want to defend and attack. He has the stamina and speed attribute which is primary for pressing. Overall, he offers a lot and I would keep him in the team.
Vayam (@VayamLahoti) one of our talented contributors answers a few questions:
Question 1: Based on another clean sheet and better shape, is it a priority for Chelsea to continue to gain confidence defensively like today based on previous defensive blunders
–Answer: Yes and no. I think it’s about finding the right balance between attack and defence. Frank can’t go either all-out-attack or with a conservative approach he adopted at Old Trafford. Sure, it’s good that they’re finding their rhythm defensively and it was much-needed. But to play in a not negative, but pedestrian manner, merely on the counter, is not something sustainable in general.
Question 2: Any different inclusions you would’ve made that wasn’t included and why?
–Answer: If you had to choose two between Kanté, Kovacic and Jorginho in a 3-4-3 system, I’d personally go with Kanté and Kovacic. Though Jorginho was solid throughout the game, Kanté doesn’t seem to contribute a lot when he’s bombing forward. Kovacic has the technique to carry the ball forward, and Kanté can play the holding role to near-perfection. Had they played in a regular 4-2-3-1, I’d have played Ziyech on the left and Havertz as a no. 10. Havertz has looked ineffective as a winger as a result of which, Werner never had a sniff at De Gea’s goal.
Question 3: Overall thoughts towards the game and what you do you want to see Wednesday against Krasnodar?
–Answer: Chelsea need to impose their personality on the game with playing attacking football but not at the cost of conceding a few. Lampard has to figure out his strongest XI soon. With question marks over positions of players such as Mount and Werner, there is work to be done. Consistently is what I want to see from Chelsea. In the lineup, in the performance, at the back, the club needs a foothold.
-Opinions from the All Things Chelsea Crew –