Chelsea were comfortably thrashed 4-1 by Manchester United as Frank Lampard suffered yet another defeat. Goals by Casemiro, Anthony Martial, Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford had secured United’s Champions League qualification long before Joao Felix’s late consolation.
Here are five things Express Sport took away from the Old Trafford clash.
Pochettino to replace three stars
Gary Neville observed that incoming Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino will make three key changes when his arrival is confirmed – and this performance suggests he’d be wise to listen to the ex-Man Utd star. The Argentine will be expected to replace Kepa Arrizabalaga and Kai Havertz in his favoured starting 11.
Kepa was poor in goal once again, while Havertz missed a great first-half chance and has always looked uncomfortable as a No 9. Neville also thinks Pochettino will want another experienced centre-back.
The Sky Sports commentator said: “Mauricio Pochettino Chelsea may not look too different from the team that’s been fielded tonight – maybe a centre forward added. I don’t think it will be too different, he’ll like the idea of a young group of players, Mauricio Pochettino. I’d change the goalkeeper, want an experienced centre-back and definitely a striker.”
Lampard gifts Pochettino ideal starting point
Pochettino does at least have some hope after Chelsea named a starting 11 with an average age of 23.7. Reports have suggested that the former Tottenham boss wants to build his Blues squad around a core of young talent.
In Lewis Hall, Wesley Fofana, Conor Gallagher, Enzo Fernandez, Mykhaylo Mudryk, Carney Chukwuemeka and Noni Madueke, Pochettino has several young players he is able to build around.
None of those players shone at Old Trafford, but this is a Chelsea side in which confidence is at rock bottom. Pochettino’s first task will be to provide inject some positivity. An arm around the shoulder will help several of his starlets.
Mudryk struggles again – but his blushes spared by Fofana
Mudryk perhaps cannot wait for his first half-season at Stamford Bridge to end. It started so brightly for the Ukrainian in his first outing, impressing in a cameo appearance against Liverpool at Anfield.
The 22-year-old has struggled ever since, although his blushes might be spared by centre-back Fofana. The defender was prised away from Leicester for a similar fee to Mudryk – who cost £88m.
And yet Fofana’s performance at Old Trafford epitomised an inconsistent debut campaign at Stamford Bridge. His positioning against United left little to be desired, and a tired and lazy challenge conceded the penalty that allowed Bruno Fernandes to make it 3-0 before giving the ball away in the box for United’s fourth.
Fofana will hope for an injury-free season next year, and could yet blossom into the excellent central defender he promised to be during his two-year Leicester spell.
Clear hint on Mount future
Lampard provided the clearest hint yet that Mason Mount could switch Chelsea for United during the summer.
Mount is yet to agree to a contract extension with the Blues, and has been linked with a move to United, Liverpool or Arsenal.
The Chelsea caretaker boss said: “In the olden days you’d get people saying, ‘Why are you leaving the club?’, but in the modern days players do move on. It’s just a shame we’ve got to this situation where it looks like it’s happening.”
Ten Hag gives Chelsea hope of quick revival
This time last year, United appeared to be in free fall. They just about squeezed Europa League qualification despite a defeat by Crystal Palace, relying on West Ham losing their own final-day fixture.
And yet Erik ten Hag has shown Pochettino that a mini rebuild can take less than a year. The Dutchman was astute with his signings – even if a couple, such as Antony and Lisandro Martinez, cost more than the Old Trafford hierarchy might have liked.
Pochettino could copy the blueprint set by Ten Hag. A Chelsea side needing to be put on the right path could find themselves in a much stronger position in 12 months’ time.