FIFA LEAGUES/CUPS

Maguire shows United what’s been missing with leader’s debut vs Chelsea

Harry Maguire this evening got his Manchester United career off to the perfect start, in an utterly-dominant display versus Chelsea.

Man United vs Chelsea

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men welcomed their top-6 rivals to Old Trafford a short time ago, in the final of the weekend’s Premier League fixtures.

All of Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal had already picked up respective victories over the last 48 hours, results which added a further air of importance to this evening’s showdown in Manchester.

The matchup of course also marked Frank Lampard’s first competitive outing in charge of Chelsea, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer starting out his first full campaign in charge of his former side.

CARDIFF, WALES – DECEMBER 22: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Interim Manager of Manchester United celebrates with the fans after the Premier League match between Cardiff City and Manchester United at Cardiff City Stadium on December 22, 2018 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Chelsea put to the sword

Despite a predictably-rousing atmosphere at Old Trafford, though, it was the visitors who came out of the blocks well on top.

Chelsea immediately looked to put United on the back foot, eventually leading to the Red Devils having the post to thank for not falling behind to a rasping Tammy Abraham drive across goal.

The positive work of the Blues, however, was soon undone, as Kourt Zouma needlessly tripped Marcus Rashford in the Chelsea box.

Rashford dusted himself down, before stepping up to dispatch the ensuing spot-kick in emphatic fashion.

The away side continued to create chances, with the width of the woodwork having once again proven all that separated Frank Lampard’s men from a first goal of the campaign, after Emerson crashed an effort off the inside of David De Gea’s near post towards the close of the first-half.

United, however, continued in their attempts to put Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s game-plan into action, with a combination of dismal Chelsea defending and stellar work on the break from the home side having eventually seen the Red Devils add a quickfire 2nd and 3rd.

First, a sustained spell of pressure shortly after the hour mark saw Andreas Pereira’s whipped cross bundled home by Anthony Martial, before a breakaway just 2 minutes later resulted in Paul Pogba’s pinpoint ball over the top being superbly controlled and finished off by Marcus Rashford.

And the cherry on top of an absolutely picture-perfect season opener for United arrived 10 minutes from time, when Daniel James emerged off the bench to net his first goal for his new club.

Mammoth Maguire

This evening’s proceedings at Old Trafford are no doubt set to result in a whole host of talking points spreading across the media.

Is Marcus Rashford’s brace a sign that he is ready to fill the centre-forward role of the Red Devils on a weekly basis? Will Ole Gunnar Solskaer’s press work against sides who are more capable with the ball than Chelsea? And in the case of the Blues, was this just a bad day at the office? Or is trouble brewing at Stamford Bridge?

When it comes to Manchester United, though, one factor of the club’s impressive opening to the campaign which simply can’t go without acknowledgement is the performance of Harry Maguire.

Central defender Maguire of course finally joined the Red Devils from Leicester City earlier this week, on the back of months of rampant speculation.

The 26-year-old’s move marked a new world-record fee for a defender, with the £80 million splashed out by Ed Woodward and co. having immediately come under heavy scrutiny.

While one performance is obviously not enough to form an informed opinion on whether or not this was money well spent, though, Maguire could, in truth, not have gotten off to a much better start.

The English international was an absolute giant at the heart of the United backline throughout proceedings this evening.

Dominant in the air, assured in one-on-ones, and typically neat and tidy with the ball at his feet, the stopper showcased all of the traits that his predecessors simply have not.

While he was not spectacular, nor did the 26-year-old make any last-gasp challenges, Maguire looked assured, with the constant concern over a potential Phil Jones-esque high-profile mistake having been non-existent.

Simply put, the former Hull City standout proved a leader, playing the role which he was brought in to fill to an absolute tee.

If Manchester United manage to keep both Maguire and Victor Lindelof fit and firing this season, the sky looks set to be the limit for the club’s newest centre-half partnership.

A special mention should also be reserved for Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who, though not quite to the level of Maguire, also looked impressive in his competitive debut at Old Trafford.

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