Manchester United played a London team the second time in a week when they faced Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, with Erik ten Hag looking to build on a brilliant win against Tottenham to extend the team’s current winning run.
Ten Hag fielded the same starting XI as he did with the exception of Christian Eriksen who came back into the team for Fred.
Marcus Rashford led the line for United yet again in Cristiano Ronaldo’s absence after the Portuguese was banished from the team and axed from the matchday squad as punishment for his shameful antics on Wednesday.
Here are three things we learned from Manchester United’s draw against Chelsea.
Encouraging first half
United were easily the better side in the opening 45 minutes.
The Red Devils commanded a healthy possession of 54% at Stamford Bridge and had eight shots, four of which were on target. Graham Potter’s team on the other hand only had a single shot on target.
United were in control for large parts of the first half and did well to pin Chelsea to their own half, reducing them to minimal incursions into United territory.
The Red Devils had the better chances of the half, with the most clear-cut ones falling to Rashford and Antony.
Rashford could not guide his powerfully-driven shot past a resurgent Kepa Arrizabalaga, while Antony’s chance fell on his weaker right foot and he failed to test the Chelsea shot-stopper.
The Blues slightly improved with the introduction of Mateo Kovačić into proceedings. Ten Hag’s men silenced most of Chelsea’s dangermen and kept them at bay.
The only disappointment for the manager is that his team went into the break goalless.
Jadon Sancho was extremely poor
United’s worst player of the first half was undoubtedly Jadon Sancho. The Englishman started on the left flank and barely had any impact.
In fact, his mistakes and errors at times put his teammates on the back foot. He misplaced numerous passes and his movement was below par.
He lacked any threat or imagination and could not beat Azpilicueta or Trevor Chalobah in the number of instances he came up in one vs. one situations against the Chelsea defensive duo.
On more than one occasion his pass to a colleague was too short. Even in linking up the play, something Sancho excels at, the winger came up short and it is no surprise he was the first player to come off, just a few minutes into the second half.
Sancho already had a fight on his hands to remain a starter. It is highly likely Anthony Martial will be available for the next Premier League outing and this will only push him further down the pecking order.
On the evidence of his display tonight, he has a mountain to climb.
United are extremely light in the attacking department
Something that stuck out from the draw against Chelsea was United’s lack of attacking options.
Rashford, naturally a winger was forced to play up front and looked out of place – he lacks the instinct of a goalscorer.
Even when Sancho came off, the lack of a suitable alternative forced Ten Hag to deploy Bruno Fernandes on the wing. The lack of options or depth in the forward positions is a real worry.
While Chelsea were throwing the likes of Armando Broja and Christian Pulisic on to change the game, the Reds could only look on in jealousy.
This is something that must be addressed in the January transfer window. A striker is a must-buy and today highlighted this.