Sunday 22 September 2019

Gary Neville believes the absence of two key players was the reason Manchester United were 'ambushed' at Chelsea

Gary Neville
Gary Neville Newsdesk Newsdesk

Gary Neville believes the absence of two key players was the catalyst to Manchester United's defeat to Chelsea on Sunday.

United suffered their second Premier League defeat of the season as Alvaro Morata's second-half header was enough to give the champions all three points at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues were the better side for much of the contest with Cesc Fabregas putting in a man of the match display in the middle of the park.

And Neville believes Chelsea's dominance of the midfield third - with Paul Pogba and Michael Carrick out - was decisive in the outcome of the game.

"I thought they got killed in midfield," Neville said on Sky Sports. "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."

He added: "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."

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