Thursday, March 23, 2017

Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United: Five things we learned as Kante sends Blues into FA Cup semi-finals

Milos Markovic in Editorial, FA Cup 13 Mar 2017

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N’Golo Kante dazzles again / Image via chelseanews24.com

Premier League title chasers Chelsea have continued their impressive run as today’s 1-0 FA Cup triumph over Manchester United was their tenth unbeaten game in a row across all competitions.

Mourinho attempted to tactically surprise his opposing number Antonio Conte, but his ideas were left undone with Ander Herrera’s red card proving to be the crucial moment in the game.

Blues came flooding up, attacking in numbers and ended up taking advantage of their pressure through N’Golo Kante who scored his second goal of the season to seal Manchester United’s faith in the FA Cup.

Five things we learned tonight are as follows:

The match lived up to billing

Jose Mourinho’s return to Stamford Bridge turned sour shortly after the half-hour mark when his impressive tactical approach against Chelsea was left undone by Herrera’s red card.

Red Devils were ultimately eliminated by Chelsea on the back of a 1-0 defeat in what has been a truly impressive match. The Premier League rivals gave all they had in this FA Cup clash treating the anticipating fans with an openly-contested game which brought plenty of chances on both ends of the pitch.

Eden Hazard’s ingenuity impressed as much as David de Gea’s strong performance which kept Manhcester United afloat all until N’Golo Kante’s low drive caught the Spanish goalkeeper on a wrong foot on the 51st-minute mark.

Tempers were flying on the pitch and on the touchline too, with Antonio Conte once again getting involved in a heated argument with Jose Mourinho, so it is fair to say that tonight’s game at Stamford Bridge lived up to the billing entirely.

Ander Herrera has only himself to blame for red card

Michael Oliver might have been a bit quicker on the trigger than required as he brandished the second yellow card to Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera five minutes after the half-hour mark, but the Spanish international brought misery on himself.

A reckless challenge on Eden Hazard, who was troubling the Spaniard on a couple of occasions during the first half, was more than Michael Oliver was willing to take.

The referee cautioned Herrera, but Manchester United man did nothing to change his style and ended up getting sent off at the worst moment possible and for what have been two rather unnecessary fouls.

In the end, it was a tough decision for not that tough of a challenge, but all due to Herrera’s recklessness and repeated offences which left Manchester United on the back foot.

Eden Hazard maturing nicely under Antonio Conte

The Belgium winger Eden Hazard has been in impressive form throughout the season, but his performance against Manchester United was top-class and the perfect proof that Chelsea key man is growing into a world-class star he had been touted to become for a long period of time.

Man-marked by Manchester United players, the Belgian displayed great composure and confidence to beat his rivals with impressive skills, pace and speed and be the driving force for his team in the game.

He put David de Gea under heavy pressure on several occasions, whereas he also tracked deep into his own half to help the defenders whenever he could, which had been the aspect of play considered as his main deficiency in the past.

Hazard has seen his play lifted up to a whole new level under Antonio Conte, who’s given his star confidence and freedom to excel.

Marcus Rashford deserves more playing time

Manchester United fans were fearing their team manager will field a strikerless line-up with news suggesting that Marcus Rashford was unavailable for selection in addition to Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Wayne Rooney.

The young Englishman showed no signs of being under the weather however, as he put in a superb display to deputise perfectly for the big man Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

It impresses me every time to see a boy of such delicate age to go against the well-established players and experienced footballers with such ease, confidence and relentlessness. Rashford’s agility is a joy to watch and his dedication is inspiration to all the young men in the game.

Rashford is a world-class talent and he’s been proving it every step of the way regardless of the time he gets granted by Jose Mourinho this season.

Only ten Premier League starts are not the number Rashford had been hoping for, but the boy displayed great commitment and determination with lack of first-time football showing no signs of hindering his progress.

Kante vs Pogba

The two French internationals and Les Blues teammates N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba were always going to be in the limelight.

We had our own infographic comparison you can have a look at below, but the game itself upheld the arguments which worked in favour of the Chelsea man in the end.

The highest paid footballer in the world, former Juventus star Paul Pogba has all the hype surrounding his football imagery, but in reality, it is the silent hero N’Golo Kante who is displaying world-class performances for his club to a higher extent than Pogba.

Pogba has had a solid game against Chelsea tonight as Mourinho’s tactics allowed him to influence the game both defensively and in attack, but it is the tireless Kante who stole the limelight with his second-half winner tonight.

The diminutive power engine managed to beat David de Gea, who’s been incredible on the night up to that point, scoring his second goal of the season, both of which came against Manchester United at the Stamford Bridge.

CHELSEA: Courtois 7 – Azpilicueta 7, Luiz 7, Cahill 6.5 – Moses 7 (Zouma 6.5), Kante 8, Matic 6.5, Alonso 7 – Willian 7 (Fabregas 6.5), Costa 7 (Batshuayi -), Hazard 7.5

Unused Subs: Begovic, Chalobah, Pedro, Terry.

MANCHESTER UNITED: de Gea 7.5 – Valencia 7.5, Smalling 7, Rojo 7, Darmian 6.5 – Jones 6.5, Herrera 5 – Mkhitaryan 6 (Fellaini 6.5), Pogba 7, Young 7 (Lingard -) – Rashford 7.5

Unused Subs: Romero, Mata, Carrick, Blind, Bailly.

REFEREE: Michael Oliver

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Milos Markovic


Formerly a Chief Editor at the largest sports site in Serbia Sportske.net, Milos Markovic is an avid football writer who contributes to a variety of online football magazines - most prominently Soccernews.com and Futbolgrad.com. His feature articles, editorials, interviews and match analyses have provided informed opinion and views, helping the football aficionados keep up to date on relevant events in world football.

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