Last Updated: 05/11/17 9:06pm
Gary Neville gave his verdict on Manchester United’s defeat to Chelsea and discussed how their midfield – without Paul Pogba – was “ambushed” at Stamford Bridge.
Alvaro Morata’s 55th-minute header sealed a 1-0 win for Chelsea over Jose Mourinho’s side, which, combined with City’s 3-1 win over Arsenal, means Mourinho’s men are eight points behind their city rivals with just 11 games gone.
Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard ran riot in midfield as United’s trio of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Ander Herrera and Nemanja Matic struggled to make an impact.
With Pogba missing with a hamstring injury, Neville thinks United lacked “arrogance” in their play to get the ball and move it forward at speed and fell well short in a key area.
LISTEN: Gary Neville Podcast
Gary Neville and Martin Tyler discuss the big talking points from Manchester United’s goalless drew with Liverpool.
“I thought they got killed in midfield,” co-commentator Neville said, back in the Super Sunday studio.
“Jose Mourinho, since the Liverpool game, has talked about not being able to freshen it up. I thought Herrera, Matic and Mkhitaryan got absolutely ambushed.
“(N’Golo) Kante was doing his job brilliantly, (Tiemoue) Bakayoko was running off him, (Eden) Hazard and (Cesc) Fabregas were dropping in and controlling the match. United were just well short in that area. If you dominate midfield in the big games, you’re in business and Chelsea did.
“I think Pogba is a big miss because of his confidence and arrogance. He takes the ball into tight areas, holds the ball, beats a man.
“Michael Carrick, too – he delivers those passes up to strikers, to the side of defenders, and I think those two players would have made a big difference.”
Analysing the game further on the Gary Neville Podcast, he said:“The intent was there but if you haven’t got quality and composure in midfield, you’re going to struggle. Passes weren’t connected, whereas with Chelsea, there was rhythm in their passing. Chelsea had rhythm, United only had moments.
“For me, Fabregas was the man of the match because he got control of the game and that was the difference for me. Chelsea’s midfield gripped this game. I don’t feel Manchester United’s midfield did.”
All eyes were on the touchline as the combustible managers faced off with pressure mounting on Antonio Conte just months after leading the Blues to the title.
The Italian twice got the better of Mourinho at Stamford Bridge last season and made it a hat-trick in a tense encounter that Chelsea edged, according to Neville.
He said: “Were Chelsea deserved winners? Yes.
“I think United had 15 minutes at the start where they showed intent. There was a big chance for Marcus Rashford, a good chance for Lukaku about 20 minutes into the game, Chelsea started to get a handle on it and it was in midfield: Bakayoko’s runs, Kante controlling the defensive line and – more importantly, Hazard starting to drop in with Fabregas.
“Manchester United started with real purpose and intent to go and damage Chelsea – you could see Jose Mourinho felt that if he could get that first goal, that this crowd could get anxious and the players might lose confidence.
“But from 20 minutes onwards, Chelsea were by far the better team. They really put in a good performance. You talk about them being champions last season and dropping off this year but that was a high level.”
Published at Sun, 05 Nov 2017 20:36:37 +0000