Manchester United secured a 2-1 victory against Chelsea in the 15th round of the 2023/24 Premier League at Old Trafford. Below are three things that Coach Erik Ten Hag did right to help the Red Devils earn a well-deserved three points.
1. Excluding Rashford:
The decision to bench Marcus Rashford after his disastrous performance against Newcastle was undoubtedly Ten Hag’s most prudent move. Facing Chelsea, Alejandro Garnacho was given the chance on the left wing, while Antony was assigned to the opposite flank. Despite Antony’s average performance, contributing to MU’s equalizer through an earned penalty, he still showcased a better performance compared to Rashford. As for Garnacho, he excelled, causing trouble for Chelsea’s defense with his high-speed maneuvers. The decision by Ten Hag to keep Rashford on the bench may be a wise choice going forward.
2. Pushing McTominay Forward:
In terms of tactics, McTominay played as a central midfielder alongside Sofyan Amrabat in MU’s 4-2-3-1 formation according to Ten Hag’s guide. However, during the actual game, McTominay played higher up the field, essentially resembling an attacking midfielder alongside Bruno Fernandes. This strategic shift proved highly effective, as the Scottish international consistently penetrated Chelsea’s penalty area, scoring two crucial goals. Similar to his performances with the national team, McTominay appears to be more suited to a supporting attacking role rather than a defensive one, a realization Ten Hag likely acknowledged.
3. Withdrawing Lindelof, Shifting Shaw to Center-Back:
Early in the second half, Ten Hag substituted Victor Lindelof with Sergio Reguilon, moving Luke Shaw from the left wing to play as a center-back alongside Harry Maguire. This brought more reassurance to Andre Onana’s goal. In the goal conceded by MU before halftime, Lindelof’s handling of the situation allowed Cole Palmer to score. Shaw has frequently been shifted to the central defense by Ten Hag in the past, and overall, it has proven to be a judicious decision.