Manchester United visit Stamford Bridge for the Chelsea vs Man United clash in the FA Cup tonight. The game would a reminder of last year’s FA Cup final between the same teams with Chelsea taking home the trophy.
The Red Devils were breathing fire under their Caretaker Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with a streak of 11 unbeaten games but faced a heartbreak defeat last week against PSG in the home leg of their Champions League face-off.
The situation worsened following injuries to Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard, the two key facets of the United attack in recent times. Both of whom are out of the Chelsea Vs Man United FA Cup clash owing to muscle injuries.
Solskjaer has been following footsteps of his mentor Sir Alex Ferguson by selecting the teams well in advance for his side’s crucial games.
United have been blessed with six-day gaps between the games against PSG, Chelsea, and Liverpool respectively.
With injuries to the two crucial players, the United attack suddenly seems vulnerable and hence, Solskjaer has decided to name the 1-game old Tahith Chong in the traveling squad for the Chelsea Vs Man United match.
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) February 15, 2019
For the FA Cup 5th round tie against Chelsea, United will have attacking options in Juan Mata, Romelu Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez and Marcus Rashford to choose from. This attack will be bolstered by the presence of Chong who didn’t impress much in his one and only outing for United against Reading but promises to carry the burden in the future.
The 19-year old Dutch winger of Chinese descent caught the eyes of United’s scouts in 2014 and made his way into United in 2016 from the Dutch club Feyenoord.
The 4-3-3 formation with Lingard doubling as a center forward was United’s key to success against attacking sides like Tottenham and Arsenal last month. Without the services of Lingard in the middle and Martial at the wing, it remains to be seen if United can attack as well as they used to.
One notable aspect of the both Lingard and Martial was their swift counter-attacks which has quite often caught the opponent napping at any point of time with fatal consequences. Now is the time when the side needs to step up and make a statement that even with injuries, they’re bereft of any vulnerabilities.
When asked if the tactics and the formation would be different in the Chelsea Vs Man United clash, Solskjaer was quoted as saying,
“It might be, Then again, we beat Arsenal in the last cup round without Anthony and Rashy, now without Anthony and Jesse. I’m sure we’ll conjure up something.”
When asked about the morale of the team, he said,
“You see players responding because that’s what they do. They are disappointed and hurt. There’s no one out there just walking around. The session was really good this [Friday] morning.”
Although Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard are huge assets to his side, Solskjaer was optimistic of his side’s performance in their absence. He added:
“It changes when you get injuries, Circumstances always might change. It’s not going to be a massive difference to what I did imagine.”
“The young players can always surprise you in the big games, but it might be one step too early and one step too far. We’ve got to spend the next couple of days deciding.”
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A Champion side is not just made with the 11 players on the field, but consists of all 20-25 players who keep pushing for a spot, all throughout the season. Even with injuries, substitutes simply have to grab any opportunity they get with both hands and make a mark. This is what defines a Championship winning side and Solskjaer will be well aware of that.
With talks of making him the permanent Manager, an exit from the FA Cup in the Chelsea Vs Man United game would be the last thing Solskjaer could ever think of. With a 2-0 defeat in the UCL at home against PSG, FA cup is the only silverware that the Devils might put their hand on. Hence, It remains to be seen if Solskjaer is able to live up to all the promise he has presented until now.