Spaniard’s substitutions enabled Ramires, Oscar, Eden Hazard and Juan Mata to overload their opponents in the central areas.
Benítez’s favourite buzzword is “compact” but in the opening stages Chelsea were a rabble, strung out across the Old Trafford pitch. The centre-backs were terrified of Javier Hernández’s pace, so dropped deep (which wasn’t enough to prevent the Mexican opening the scoring), forcing the midfield to cover too much ground and leaving Demba Ba with little support.
… Replacing the peripheral Victor Moses with Eden Hazard had an immediate impact with the Belgian’s superb curler, but introducing Mikel John Obi in place of Lampard was actually a more effective change.
That switch was surprising on paper – Benitez would have been castigated for his negativity had Chelsea not completed their comeback. But Mikel’s permanent stationing in the holding position stabilised Chelsea and, more importantly, allowed Ramires to charge forward with typical energy.
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