A new era began at Old Trafford yesterday; the first game of the 2019/20 season bought high expectations pre-kick off, as Frank Lampard started his very first Premier League game as manager of Chelsea. Our record at Old Trafford against Manchester United is quite possibly the best of all Premier League clubs, however, the excitement and expectancy pre-kick off, turned to memories of a certain rainy 1994 FA Cup Final as we came away losing 4-0.
With our summer transfer ban imposed, it was time for us to look to within our own set up to promote players to the first team squad. In fact, it is refreshing to see Jamie Cumming, Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Reece James and Fikayo Tomori in the first team squad. Both Mount and Abraham started yesterday as we got our season underway. We started the game pressurising United with some high-tempo football. This led to our first chance of the game in just the fourth minute as the ball broke to Tammy Abraham after a Chelsea corner – Tammy swivelled from outside the box and thumped a shot straight onto United’s left hand post that had De Gea scrambling to reach. Had that gone in, then we might have been talking about a different result.
The first 15 minutes were dominated by Chelsea, but then we took our foot off of United’s throats. This led to their first attack after Zouma failed to stay on his feet and was late in trying to tackle Rashford. After a quick VAR check, which showed a clear penalty, Rashford stepped up and gave Kepa no chance. Suddenly United were 1-0 up, but it really wasn’t deserved.
We really should have really gone in before half time with the score 1-1. Mason Mount could have had a shot, but pulled the ball back behind Tammy Abraham, when it looked like Mount had a better chance from the United right. Ross Barkley made some powerful runs from midfield, one such run saw De Gea make a save. Then with a couple of minutes to go before half time, Emerson had space on the left but with a tight angle he hit the frame of the goal. At 1-0 down, the hope was still high of getting back into the game in the second half, but this wasn’t to be.
Both teams lacked a little momentum at the start of the second half, it was less frenetic and space was more difficult to find. In trying to find the equaliser, Pulisic was introduced for his Premier League debut in the 58th minute with Ross Barkley coming off. Just seven minutes later United were 2-0 up; a break away from United found Pereira who crossed for Martial to score past Kepa. Two minutes later, 2-0 became 3-0. A long ball that caught our defence out, found Rashford who beat Kepa. Having thought that was game, set and match, Daniel James came on as sub for United and completed the scoring to make it 4-0 on his debut.
This was United’s biggest win over us at Old Trafford since 1965, but we move on and have to react in the league at home next week against Leicester. Before that, we play Liverpool in the Super Cup on Wednesday. After the United game there were positives as we created chances – had Tammy’s fourth minute shot gone in, then we may have been talking a whole different story regarding the result. There were some good individual displays with Ross Barkley looking good with some Lampard-esque runs and Mason Mount looking dangerous at times too. Sadly there were some individual mistakes as well, but let’s hope that these can be ironed out and we come back stronger starting in Istanbul on Wednesday.
Kepa; Emerson, Zouma, Christensen, Azplicueta; Kovacic, Jorginho (Kante 73); Pedro, Mount, Barkley (Pulisic 58); Abraham (Giroud 66).
Referee: Anthony Taylor