Chelsea return to the FA Cup final after one season as the Blues won 3-1 over Manchester United Sunday evening. Frank Lampard’s side put forth an emphatic performance and delivered a complete effort from start to end. Ole Gunnar Solskjær will be disappointed in the result as United lacked any motivation or inspiration to win their match.
Three straight goals from Oliver Giroud, Mason Mount and an own goal from Harry Maguire put Chelsea up 3-0. United scored late into the match to make it 3-1 as Bruno Fernandes converted a penalty shot. However, the goal was more of a constellation for the Red Devils who were already far out of reach at that point in the match.
Chelsea now have a chance to grasp third place in most FA Cups won behind Arsenal and United, but who were the individual winners and losers from this match?
Winner: Olivier Giroud
There is no stopping Giroud at the moment as he’s been one of Chelsea’s best players since the league restarted. He has scored five goals in their past eight games in all competitions. The striker was, once again, commanding in the final third. He was physical and strong in his hold up play, clinical inside the goal area and had an aggressive demeanour inside the box. Near the end of half time, Giroud provided a spark to tilt the game in Chelsea’s way.
The striker did a great job of making his run down the right side of the box. He positioned himself in front of Victor Nilsson-Lindelöf to redirect César Azpilicueta’s cross and into the back of the goal. His presence has been vital as Tammy Abraham has struggled since the restart and well before the league came to a break. He finished the match with six aerial duels won, two shots on target and one key pass.
The Frenchman is on a mission to win a piece of hardware this season with the Blues but, more importantly, has risen to the occasion at the most important time for Lampard.
Loser: David De Gea
The goalkeeper position continues to be a raising concern for United. David De Gea has been under heavy criticism the past few seasons and was the centre of attention. With United playing poorly and needing a boost to pick them up in the match, De Gea did not provide that spark.
One minute into the second half, Brandon Williams gave up possession as he made a poor pass into midfield directly to Mount. De Gea had ample amount of time to make the save when Mount was far outside the box. The midfielder delivered a shot on target but somehow managed to let the ball get away from his finger tips and found the back of the goal.
Once again, De Gea let in a weak goal in an important match. The United goalkeeper continues to make blunder plays and shows his inability to make the simple save. The score was 2-0 and the game was out of reach at that point. It wasn’t the morale boost that the Red Devils were looking for but more of a momentum killer into Solskjær’s squad. This raises a critical question: Is it time United moves on from Da Gea?
Winner: Frank Lampard
Lampard deserves a lot of praise in his ability to change his formation and tactics when needed. The Chelsea manager has used the 4-3-3 regularly this season but elected opt with the 3-4-3 where we have seen him used periodically. Lampard decided to make a bold move by leaving Christian Pulisic on the bench along with Andreas Christensen and Kepa Arrizabalaga.
This shift complimented Chelsea superbly as Marcos Alonso was making countless runs and crosses down the flank. Giroud was a menace in the final third, while Mateo Kovačić and Jorginho worked well together. The back three of Antonio Rudiger, Kurt Zouma and Azpilicueta provided minimal space for United to work with.
Lampard had his men focused, alert and ready when the whistle blew to start the match. While there have been nights where he has been questioned, this was a night where the Englishman had it right to a tee.
“I’m very proud of the team today,” said Lampard.
“I can’t ask for much more than what they gave me, apart from maybe a couple more goals! That’s maybe surprising to say when you play against a side with their quality but what impressed me most was the work ethic of the performance.
“We played with a system that we haven’t used in a while and I was surprised to see them match us up. I thought we were on top at the start of the game and then when they changed their system up, I thought we were even better. We did everything that the staff and I asked of them.”
Loser: Harry Maguire
This past summer, United bought Maguire from Leicester City for 80 million euros. The central defender came with a hefty price tag but, more importantly, was expected to lead the backline. Maguire has been a disappointment this season where he’s struggled to step in key games. On many plays, the centre back was caught out of position, was slow tracking back and showed to be a step behind in the goal area when defending his man.
On Chelsea’s third goal, Rudiger did a really good job of getting on the inside of Maguire and applying pressure to convert Alonso’s pass into the back goal. Maguire reached out but redirected the ball into his own net to give the Blues a 3-0 lead. His inability to be physical, out work his man and put himself in a position to limit his opponent was all seen in one sequence. This signing has seen many ups and downs this season.