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Herrera colossal, Rashford devastating in Man United masterclass vs. Chelsea

April 16, 2017 5:11 PM
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Herrera colossal, Rashford devastating in Man United masterclass vs. Chelsea

With several of their highest-profile playmakers either on the bench, in the stands or nowhere near the stadium, Manchester United turned in by far their most impressive showing of the season on Sunday, dismissing league leaders Chelsea by a score of 2-0.

United denied their visitors even a single completed pass in their penalty area and extended their unbeaten run in the Premier League to 22 matches. This was the signature performance so many had been calling for from Jose Mourinho's men and, with a seemingly-weakened team, they delivered in startling style. It was fitting, too, that the game's scorers -- Marcus Rashford and Ander Herrera -- were its best players.

Rashford was outstanding leading the line and Herrera was arguably even better. Paul Pogba was defensively superb -- in fact, the whole team deserve credit. The only one who did not excel was David De Gea and that is because he was not threatened for the entire game.

For the first time this season, it is difficult to name any. Perhaps there was the playacting from Marcos Rojo when up against Diego Costa. Aside from that, though, this was a performance without blemish.

10 -- This was a tactical masterclass from Mourinho. He got his players to press Chelsea high up the pitch, deployed Herrera to man-mark Eden Hazard and his team broke at speed and with ruthless precision. He made smart changes to protect the 2-0 lead and got his side to maintain an excellent tempo.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK David De Gea, 7 -- Was serenely untroubled for the vast majority of the game. His relatively low mark reflects the fact that he had almost nothing to do, but he claimed the ball with authority when called upon.

DF Antonio Valencia, 8 -- Defended with typical doggedness but also got forward with the ambition of the very best wingers, being far more adventurous than in recent games and frequently surging in behind his opposition. His passing and general interplay were excellent.

DF Matteo Darmian, 8 -- Was comfortable in distribution and disciplined with his positioning throughout, staying deeper than the other full-back and providing his centre-backs with additional security.

DF Eric Bailly, 9 -- Put in a tremendous performance against Costa, one of the most awkward opponents in the Premier League. Anticipated dribbles and runs superbly all game and from the moment he laughed off Costa's histrionics in the first half he was in control.

DF Marcos Rojo, 8 -- Played a calm game, clearing his lines with urgency and composure after a brief entanglement with Costa.

DF Ashley Young, 9 -- Grew into the game after a stuttering start and overlapped superbly down the left. Put in a captain's performance after being handed the armband for the day. Provided the assist for the second goal, having almost created one for Rashford in the first half. The only downside to his game was his wayward shooting.

MF Marouane Fellaini, 8 -- Was simply very good. His chest control was majestic as always. Showed not just an ability to keep it simple, but also to move the ball on at reasonable speed between the lines, allowing United to remain on the front foot. Closed down opponents very well, too.

MF Paul Pogba, 9 -- His work ethic, particularly in defence, was terrific. At one point, he chased down an attacker some 30 yards before making a magnificent slide tackle. Built the play with patience and wit, never overcomplicating things where the easy pass would do, and delivered the big-game performance that everyone had been waiting for.

MF Ander Herrera, 10 -- Is not a tall man, but here he was a colossus. This was arguably his best game for United, where he created the first with one of the through balls of the season and then sealed the match with the second. In the time in between, he entirely subdued Hazard, probably the best player in the league, with a man-marking job as good as any seen in years. Was up against N'Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic and was absolutely dominant. An exceptional game, the complete outing.

MF Jesse Lingard, 9 -- Pressed brilliantly from the off, setting the tone for the team's performance, and also got into fine positions when his side was in attack. Went off after about an hour having done 90 minutes' worth of running.

FW Marcus Rashford, 10 -- On any other day, he would have been the man of the match. Led his opponents a merry dance at times, his quick feet and quicker mind earning him one goal and taking him very close to another. On such a day, comparisons with Patrick Kluivert and Thomas Muller are not at all fanciful. Skilful, elusive and bewilderingly quick, he was devastating.

MF Michael Carrick, 8 -- Came on to take the heat out of the game and did exactly that, receiving and giving the ball with great poise and intelligence.

FW Zlatan Ibrahimovic, N/A -- The master was brought on for the apprentice, though it was notable how much more dynamism United have in attack with Rashford starting. Held the ball up well in the closing moments, though his more physical approach earned him a yellow.

DF Timothy Fosu-Mensah, N/A -- Was brought on to run down the clock in injury time and unable to get involved much.

Musa Okwonga is one of ESPN FC's Manchester United bloggers. Follow on Twitter: @Okwonga.


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