So, Manchester United’s hopes of a place in the top four hang in the balance after the draw against Chelsea, a game in which they really needed to take all three points.
However, there were signs of improvement from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men.
A fast start saw the Red Devils get their reward through Juan Mata’s opener, although they appeared to be rocked by Chelsea’s equaliser after yet another mistake from David de Gea.
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It was always going to be an uphill battle for United to make the top four after their dreadful start to the campaign under Jose Mourinho, but Solskjaer can at least take some positivity from a couple of things he got right against the Blues.
The Norwegian’s team selection was much better than in recent weeks, and the side looked much more balanced with the inclusion of Mata in a central role, a player who hadn’t started as many games as he would’ve liked.
Solskjaer also backed up the Spaniard’s inclusion by bringing Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera in to offset Mata’s lack of defensive know-how, both of whom provided a solid base for the attackers to build on – Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku also each delivered improved performances as a result of this tweak.
Staying on the topic of team selection, Solskjaer also reinstated Eric Bailly to the side, and restored Victor Lindelof to his best position at centre-back having deployed him at right-back in recent games, with little success.
In addition to this, the former Cardiff boss also got his tactics spot on in terms of pressing Chelsea and stopping Jorginho from playing his game on the spacious Old Trafford pitch.
His side condensed the space in behind, which saw the Italian international struggle to play balls over the top – when he did, United’s focused backline caught the focal point, Gonzalo Higuain, offside five times, twice more than any other player on the pitch managed.
Unfortunately, Solskjaer was let down by De Gea’s mistake, an error that knocked the stuffing out of his men and left them climbing a mountain against a Chelsea side happy to play for a point given their loftier position in the table; however, that isn’t to say that the Norwegian boss got a response from his players with some clever decisions.