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Man Utd 8-1 Chelsea! Can Lampard snap his losing streak against Solskjaer in FA Cup semi-final?
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19-Jul-2020, 02:06 pm

Man Utd 8-1 Chelsea! Can Lampard snap his losing streak against Solskjaer in FA Cup semi-final?

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Frank Lampard Man Utd Chelsea 2019-20 GFX

Can Frank Lampard's Chelsea finally beat Manchester United?

Chelsea, though, have one last chance to get one over on United, with the two sides set to meet in an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley on Sunday evening.

"It’s not fair," Solskjaer said of a truncated fixture list that means United must take on Chelsea just three days after beating Crystal Palace in the Premier League.

Had the Blues been forced to follow a similar schedule, the Norwegian may have been less annoyed.

However, as it stands, United will have 48 hours less to prepare for their semi-final, with Chelsea having last been in action against Norwich, on Tuesday night.

Still, Lampard had complaints of his own after the Blues' Premier League loss to United at Stamford Bridge back in February. On that particular occasion, two major calls went against his side.

Harry Maguire kicked out at Michy Batshuayi right in front of Lampard's dugout, with the United defender's stud going straight into the striker's groin.

However, the VAR (Video Assistant Referee), Chris Kavanagh, decided against recommending a red card and Maguire was allowed to stay on the pitch.

To make matters worse, Chelsea centre-half Kurt Zouma was then denied a goal by Kavanagh for an alleged foul in the build-up from Cesar Azpilicueta.

“Decisions like that are crucial," Lampard fumed. "Maguire should have got a red and then scores the second goal.

"I think that is a major part of what VAR was brought in for: allowing a second viewing, from different angles. The referee can’t see all the angles, so if you aren’t going to look at the monitor, then you won’t see them.

"That Maguire decision was wrong and the Zouma goal should have stood. At first, it looked like it was a shove from Azpilicueta but then, you see it again, and he gets shoved in the first place!"

In truth, nothing went right for Chelsea on the night, as N'Golo Kante was injured during the game.

United have had their own fitness issues this season but there's no denying that they've enjoyed their fair share of luck against Chelsea this season.

The onus, therefore, is on Lampard to ensure that fortune plays no part in Sunday's game. Coaxing more clinical performances out of his forwards would be a good place to start...

United's front three of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood have scored a combined 60 goals in all competitions. That's more than even Liverpool's front three of Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.

United's late push for a top-four finish, then, is more about lethal finishing than good luck.

Chelsea, by contrast, have been nowhere near as prolific. Lampard's top three scorers – Tammy Abraham, Willian and Christian Pulisic– have 36 goals between them.

It partially explains why the Blues failed to find the back of the net once in their two league fixtures against United – despite being the better team in both matches, according to Lampard.

"Let's get it right; football is won in the boxes," the former England midfielder said after the 4-0 loss at Old Trafford on the opening day of the season. "They got it right by being clinical.

"We had so many more shots and chances, but that's where we let ourselves down by not putting them away."

He was left just as frustrated after the return fixture.

"I don’t like losing games, the way we are losing games," he said after Chelsea succumbed to goals from Anthony Martial and Maguire at Stamford Bridge.

"We're losing games, particularly at home, where we have had big chunks of possession, big chances and are not finishing them.

"It is a reality that is getting clearer all the time. We are not getting enough goals up front. Tammy had his purple at the beginning of the season; now we are not getting enough from him.

"We're not getting enough from wide areas either. That is a fact."

The worry for Chelsea is that United have become even more dangerous in attack since the resumption of the Premier League after the coronavirus-enforced lockdown.

Martial and Rashford are in fine form, while January signing Bruno Fernandes and teenage sensation Mason Greenwood continue to go from strength to strength.

Still, Chelsea have also improved. Olivier Giroud is in the best form of his Chelsea career, with five goals in his last eight games, while Willian and Pulisic are causing opponents all sorts of problems from out wide.

Unfortunately, doubts remain over the defence...

United arguably have the fastest forward line in the Premier League and they use that blistering pace on the break to hurt their opposition.

Worryingly, Chelsea are particularly susceptible to rapid counterattacks. Indeed, it's been a problem all season long. Only relegation-threated Aston Villa have conceded as many goals from fast breaks this season (seven).

"We threw bodies forward and we’re very vulnerable when we lose the ball high up the pitch," Abraham admitted after the 3-0 loss at Sheffield United last week. "That’s something we need to improve on.

"We’re still a young, learning team but if we want to be the best and win titles, that’s something we have to manage."

It's certainly a cause for concern. Before registering a clean sheet in Tuesday's 1-0 win over Norwich, Chelsea had conceded eight goals in their three previous fixtures, against West Ham, Crystal Palace and Sheffield United.

The Blues use a Liverpool-style gegenpress but theirs is easier to break than that of the champions. Lampard, then, will have no doubt spent a significant amount of Chelsea's semi-final preparation focusing on protecting his brittle backline from United's jet-heeled front three.

However, he will also have spent time addressing another weak spot...

Only Norwich and Arsenal have conceded more set-piece goals in the Premier League this season than Chelsea this season (10), while no team has let in more headers.

Fingers have been pointed at the centre-halves, while Kepa's positioning has also been cited as a major contributing factor.

Chelsea's lack of aerial prowess has already cost them against United, as it was Maguire's header – after Rudiger had lost the flight of the ball before then being overpowered by the England international – which effectively killed the league game at the Bridge five months ago.

Lampard tried zonal marking earlier in the season and then switched to a hybrid zonal and man-marking approach. Neither tactic worked.

Chelsea have continued to ship goals at corners and free-kicks, prompting fans to call for Chelsea to focus on strengthening the centre of the defence, having already bolstered their attacking options for next season with the additions of Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner.

It's not all doom and gloom at Chelsea, of course. They have beaten Liverpool, Manchester City, Tottenham and Arsenal over the course of the campaign.

Source :

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