Manchester United and Chelsea shared the spoils after a dramatic draw at Stamford Bridge. The match was slightly overshadowed by the unnecessary and idiotic dust up between the benches caused by celebratory taunting after Ross Barkley’s injury time equalizer, but the matter has supposedly been resolved. However, what clearly hasn’t been resolved is Manchester United’s back line.
When the final whistle finally sounded at Stamford Bridge Manchester United fans aren’t sure what to make of the enthralling 2-2 draw. The Reds fell behind 1-0 after a poor first half showing highlighted by a botched job defending Antonio Rudiger on a corner. Paul Pogba was at fault for losing his man, but it doesn’t change the fact that Victor Lindelöf and Nemanja Matić cleared a path for the German defender to charge into, or that nobody was on the back post to begin with.
Still, United found a way back. They started the second half as adventurous as they started the first, and it finally paid off in the form of an Anthony Martial brace. The midfield did well to win and maintain possession, allowing the forwards to capitalize on the chances being created. Then, a scrappy final 10 minutes led to a staggering 6 minutes of stoppage time. A desperate Chelsea got the ball in the box, it bounced around, and Ross Barkley pounced from point blank range against a helpless David De Gea. Lindelöf had left his position to pursue the initial pass in, leaving both Rudiger and Barkley unattended when the ball came back across goal. Pogba was also stood watching near the edge of the six yard box.
Apart from the two goals there were some improvements on the parts of Matić and Ashley Young shutting down Hazard, but there were more than a few scary moments in between where everyone was caught out of position. If not for David De Gea, Alvaro Morata could have easily scored another for the Blues.
The Chelsea match was no fluke for United’s defense, which has been leaking goals all season long. They’ve achieved just one clean sheet through 9 matches in the league this season (they had 7 at this point last season), and have already conceded 16 goals (they conceded 28 total in the league last season). Perhaps what is worse is that Mourinho appears to be out of options. Eric Bailly, Chris Smalling, and Victor Lindelöf have all been paired with each other in some form this season, but the goals keep going in. Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo remain on the sideline with injuries, but does anyone truly believe they’re the solution to the problems at the back?
The United front office decided not to invest in new defenders this summer, and as you can tell from the title of this article that is a position this writer disagrees with. It seems as though Toby Alderweireld is still available, and Harry Maguire is too good to stay at Leicester City much longer. Both players are tried and tested in the Premier League, and they would bring the kind of physicality that this defense has been lacking since the Great Wall of Manchester days of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidić.
Much was made of United’s lack of signings this summer, particularly the lack of depth and quality at centre back, and those worries seem more than justified considering the woeful performances of the current unit. Ed Woodward may have been hesitant to invest in new talent, but surely now he can see the problems that have mounted at the back.