Chelsea vs Manchester United: A tactical analysis of the FA Cup semi-final draw

Source: SkySports

Will United be able to go 4 for 4 against Chelsea or will they finally get one over us in the FA cup semi-final?

Manchester United have been drawn to face Chelsea in the semi-finals of the FA Cup, with Arsenal playing holders Manchester City. While it seems that City have been given an easier run again as compared to the rest of the semifinalists, the main focus for every United fan will be if we can make it all the way to the final.

With Chelsea having confirmed the signings of Werner of Ziyech over the recent months, and with rumors flying around that they could possibly at David Alaba, Chelsea will be a force to reckon with in the coming season. But now they have proved that they are not to be trifled with. In less than the span of seven days, they were able to beat Manchester City and Leicester City. This will be a highly contested game, even though we have given them three defeats this season. Their biggest goal threats will most likely come from Abrahams and Pulisic. The former-Dortmund player could run rings around our defence depending on who starts. Tammy Abraham's just has that knack for scoring and is a future England starter.

For the four remaining teams, the FA Cup could be a much-needed boost. Even though Arsenal are having an abysmal season, the win could help to raise morale for the next season. City could use it to hide away the shame of resigning their championship status with such a wide margin. Chelsea could use it to cement their status as title contenders. For United this could be the step needed to challenge for higher glories, like how it went during Sir Alex Ferguson’s tenure. Granted he had come from beating Real Madrid in the European Cup and winning domestic titles with Aberdeen.

I can see United playing a more defensive and absorbing pressure from Chelsea to play on the counter as it is where we have dominated. Where we struggle is trying to break down defences that play deep. Initially we were unable to cut through defences but that seems to have been slightly rectified with the signing of Bruno Fernandes. Just look at our recent cup game. He may have been off and not as sharp as we have come to expect, but he still was playing as if he had the next play in mind. He made forward passes to the forwards that put the Norwich defence on edge. His neat flick to Ighalo would have led to a goalscoring opportunity had Ighalo not been fouled. May have possibly had the worst game of the season, but if he performs that badly but still manages to create chances it would seem as if we are in good hands.

Martial, Rashford, Ighalo and Greenwood.  Another key point to look at is our attacking prowess. With Ighalo’s loan being extended during these unprecedented times, he has managed to score four goals in four starts. He may not be putting in numbers like the elite of the Premier League may be doing, but for a loaned player he is certainly filling in the blocks we need. Strong, quick with his feet and is able to find himself in the right position most of the time. A good signing.
Greenwood is really looking like wonderkid material. There is obviously going to be comparisons to him and Van Persie which are validated. Good with both feet, he makes it so easy how he can make enough space for himself to shoot and trouble the keeper.
Rashford is Rashford. When he is not assisting off the pitch, he can certainly do it on the pitch as well. Having a career best in terms of goals, he just seems like he gets better with age. Lastly Martial. Ice cold, no smile and you know the game is done.
Martial FC is feasting the past few months. People are still annoyed that he pulls of moves that can frustrate as you watch him play. But the truth of the matter is that he is still scoring goals. First hattrick in his career against a demoralised Sheffield United (7 years since United has had a player score a hattrick) shows the amount of potential he has. Maybe this is the time he starts living up to it.

In defence we have Shaw, Lindelof, Maguire and Wan-Bissaka. Luke Shaw seems to have sealed the left back position. With Brandon Williams coming through the ranks it gives him that extra bit of competition that has seen him playing well the past couple of games.
Lindelof as always will be a mainstay in the centre. His ability to read the game is good, although it will be interesting to see whether he can retain the spot if Bailly can remain injury free.
Maguire was the big signing that everyone hoped would shore up our defence. I will not lie I believe that we could have tried to sign Koulibaly instead, but he has done a decent job. He can still be turned inside out by pacier players, but he is good in the air and commands the line with authority.
Wan-Bissaka needs no elaboration. Immense at the back and is looking good going forward.

As I stated before our strengths rely on our counter attacking ability. We may be able to hold the ball against Chelsea but their defence will be hard to break down. Letting them hold the ball and absorbing pressure may seem tactically astute, but if we are not focused or have a lapse of concentration Chelsea are liable to punish us. They have nothing to lose and will still be feeling the sting from their 3 defeats against us. I believe that United will manage to either beat Chelsea 2-1 or win it during the penalty shoot-out. 

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