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  WHAT WE LEARNED FROM MAN UNITED'S OPENING WEEKEND WIN OVER CHELSEA?

 

There was no fairytale start for Frank Lampard's return to Chelsea as Manchester United thrashed the Blues 4-0 in their opening game of the 2019-20 Premier League season. The Red Devils joined fellow heavyweights of English football like neighbours Man City and bitter rivals Liverpool in laying down a marker that started their campaign off strongly. What have we learned from United's four-goal drubbing of Chelsea for the season ahead?

Burgeoning strike partnership softens blow of Lukaku departure

Romelu Lukaku's departure from Old Trafford came so late in the summer transfer window - which closed long before the rest of Europe for Premier Leagues clubs on 8 August - that there wasn't any time to secure a replacement. Talks were reportedly held with Juventus over former Croatia frontman Mario Mandzukic and Argentina international Paulo Dybala, but the Red Devils didn't pursue a deal for either. Fans could be forgiven for fearing United looked thin on the ground up front, but that's not what the attacking performances against Chelsea suggested. Marcus Rashford scored twice in this battle with the Blues. His early penalty was a gift from Kurt Zouma who clumsily felled the Red Devils forward inside the area before he dusted himself down and converted from the spot. Shaky performances from Zouma and Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta also allowed Anthony Martial - who got the number nine shirt back after Lukaku's exit - to nip in and double United's lead in the 65th minute. Rashford struck again a couple of minutes later when played in by Paul Pogba and is currently at 10/1 to be the Premier League's top goalscorer this season by Betfair. The way in which he and Martial interchanged positions suggests that could be one of the value football betting tips for today as it bamboozled Blues defenders so he's likely to have plenty more opportunities throughout the season.There was also a perfect Premier League debut for substitute Daniel James, who secured victory with a deflected effort assisted by Pogba. The Wales winger capped a good day creatively for United and there's definitely more to come.


New signings make case for the defence

One area of obvious weakness irking supporters last season was at the back. United had the ninth-worst defence in the Premier League with the rearguard shipping 54 goals. After conceding almost 1.5 goals per game last term, it's little wonder the Red Devils kept just two league clean sheets at Old Trafford. Remodelling defence was a priority for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer this summer, and United spent £130,000,000 on the signings of Aaron Wan-Bissaka from Crystal Palace and prising Harry Maguire away from Leicester City.

After just one game, the Red Devils are already halfway to matching last season's paltry shutout record on home turf in the Premier League. While the 4-0 scoreline doesn't reflect the fact that Chelsea hit the woodwork twice in the first half through Tammy Abraham and Emerson Palmieri, the new-look United defence and David de Gea behind them stood firm. Chelsea still created opportunities, but some of their youngsters lacked the experience to take them. Wan-Bissaka balanced his responsibilities well, while Maguire won most of the aerial duels in the centre. If they have started to turn a corner defensively, and sterner tests do lie ahead, then it's a promising sign as they aim to finish in the top four.

 
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