Former Manchester United midfielder Luke Chadwick believes Thomas Tuchel may have got his Chelsea tactics wrong in yesterday’s game.
The Blues lined up with Olivier Giroud, Mason Mount and Hakim Ziyech as their front three, which was a bit surprising as three quality players in Timo Werner, Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic all had to make do with a place on the bench.
This lack of pace in Chelsea’s attack didn’t really cause Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof too many problems, with Chadwick stating his belief that it simply led to the home team having more of the ball without really threatening.
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Speaking to CaughtOffside, Chadwick gave an interesting analysis of the tactical battle we saw at Stamford Bridge yesterday.
“I’m not sure if Tuchel was looking for what he got at the start of the game,” Chadwick said. “Playing Giroud made Maguire and Lindelof feel that they were quite comfortable – they were happy to push up with Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw.
“At times United were caught down the sides with good movement from Mason Mount in particular getting into that inside left position. Maguire and Lindelof then pulled the full-backs inside a bit, which gave the Chelsea wing-backs and wide centre-backs more time on the ball. Then Chelsea were quite comfortable on the ball without ever really hurting United.
“I think it’s always going to be an issue with Maguire and Lindelof – fantastic central defenders though they both are – they have the same weakness in terms of that ball down the channel, where it can be a struggle against top, top quality players.
“Giroud’s a brilliant Premier League striker but it’s probably not his strength running away from people. It probably worked in United’s favour in the end that Giroud played there but maybe Tuchel did that to encourage United to get their full-backs further forward. It was an interesting tactical battle if not a particularly easy game on the eye.”
Chadwick also spoke on the major incident in the game – when Man Utd seemed to be denied a decent shout for a penalty after the referee Stuart Attwell consulted VAR and somehow decided against penalising what looked a clear hand-ball from Callum Hudson-Odoi.
“Looking at the replay it was 100% a handball, accidental I’m sure,” Chadwick said. “On first view it looked like Greenwood handled it first and the game seemed to carry on for another 60 seconds before the referee was told to go and look at the monitor.
“In the past when the ref’s told to do that you think it’s got to be a penalty, there’s nothing you can really say – Hudson-Odoi’s hand isn’t really in a natural position, he’s touched the ball, it was such a shock when the referee looked a monitor and deemed it not a penalty.
“I’m not an expert but it doesn’t seem right to me. The rules seem so up in the air and VAR was supposed to help make it more black and white. He’s obviously been told to have a look at it because Hudson-Odoi’s handballed it, he’s had a look but still decided it’s not a penalty. Hopefully in time it will work itself out but another weekend of real controversy with VAR in the whole Premier League.”