Manchester United’s FA Cup hopes and unbeaten streak both came to an end Sunday afternoon after a disappointing loss against Chelsea at Wembley. Defensive errors plagued the Reds and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s approach proved costly against their Premier League rivals. Though Olivier Giroud and Mason Mount both netted one for the Blues, it was Harry Maguire’s own goal that solidified the defeat. Bruno Fernandes’ penalty was too little too late to inspire a comeback.
Frank Lampard’s men simply outplayed Solskjaer’s side, leaving a multitude of questions for this storied club. Here are three things we learned from United’s 3-1 defeat against Chelsea.
Solskjaer bested by Lampard
Considering the streak of matches played since the restart, it makes sense why Solskjaer opted to leave both Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial on the bench. However, the Norwegian was better off putting Mason Greenwood up top alongside Marcus Rashford instead of Daniel James. After all, the teenage wunderkind has far more goals to his name and has proven his worth against bigger clubs. This was also the first time the Reds played a back three since February, beating Chelsea in the same 3-4-1-2 lineup. That decision to revert back to that arrangement was justifiable, but it became quickly apparent it wasn’t the best strategy.
Chelsea came with a vengeance, having lost three in a row previously to their Big Six rivals. Giroud’s goal just before the interval gave them all the confidence needed in the second half, depleting United of any morale to orchestrate a resurgence.
Bad day for Brandon Williams
Timothy Fosu-Mensah could have stepped up in Luke Shaw’s absence, but Solskjaer instead went with Brandon Williams. The academy graduate usually puts on a fine showing, but even he will want to forget his lackluster performance. Coming off a head injury himself against Southampton, the 19-year-old had one of his toughest games in a United shirt. Since his first team promotion, he’s done fine in making Luke Shaw work to remain the squad’s starting left-back. Solskjaer’s decision on Wednesday could ultimately decide their season: stick with Williams or bring in Fosu-Mensah.
De Gea’s gaffes can no longer be overlooked
David de Gea, at 29 years old, still has plenty of fine years ahead of him. Whether they’ll be played in Manchester will be a decision left to United’s front office. Giroud’s goal was one the Spanish stopper probably would have saved a couple seasons ago. And the less said about his inexplicable attempt at a save for Mount’s goal, the better. However, it’s not just Sunday’s display that raises concern. His inconsistencies only strengthen the cries for Solskjaer to promote current Sheffield United loanee Dean Henderson as United’s number one keeper next year. Sure, he did well in the 59th minute to deny Giroud a second, but at that point the damage had already been done. Despite it being a combined effort on what was a tumultuous afternoon, De Gea’s name will monopolize headlines for the next several days.