Manchester United faced Yeovil Town in their fourth round FA Cup tie as they traveled to Huish Park aiming to go through to the next round. Jose Mourinho sent out a strong lineup despite the likes of Pogba, Martial, Matic and Lukaku not featuring for the away side. However, all the buzz was on Alexis Sanchez as he made his debut for United, after completing his transfer earlier in the week.
I breakdown the tactical aspects that were involved with Sanchez making his first appearance for the Red Devils and look at how he impacted the game from an individual and collective perspective.
Made using TacticalPad
Alexis Sanchez looks to be settling in that left wing pretty well. The striking difference that has been seen in his play is that he looks to drift inwards even when receiving deeper and not go down the flanks. Dynamic and looking for fast combinations, like his usual self pic.twitter.com/M3S8OYsxoI
— Football Bloody Hell (@fbhfootball) January 26, 2018
- Alexis Sanchez looks to be settling in that left wing pretty well. The striking difference that has been seen in his play is that he looks to drift inwards even when receiving deeper and not go down the flanks. Dynamic and looking for fast combinations, like his usual self
Alexis played down the left, a position that he has grown familiar with over his years at Arsenal. The position gives him the license to cut inside and go out as he wishes, with Sanchez often looking to combine with players with quick give and go’s. His dynamic nature of play is a tad different from what Martial offers and ensures that United have a fast tempo to their attack as they enter the final third.
- Alexis looks like he has been relieved off much of his defensive duties, partly due to the reason that they are facing Yeovil maybe. Rather, he is stationed up high and looks to be more of an outlet when United try to counter, with his dribbling capabilities.
It’s natural that he was not asked to track much, maybe due to the relatively weak opposition. For their due credit, Yeovil looked to put pressure and catch United off guard whenever they could, but it did not warrant the need for Sanchez to track back. Instead, his powerful running and ball carrying capabilities, coupled with his excellent decision making in the final third were put to use as an outlet in counters for United.
- Alexis’ presence offers an interesting dynamic to United’s attack. Despite being closed down immediately throughout,he was able to use this to good effect by finding runners around him. Quick 1-2s helped gain progressions for United and find a player in the final third
Juan Mata often found himself combining with Sanchez in the left wing as he often drifted to create overloads there. Sanchez was often heavily marked or closed down and hence could use this to his effect by dragging the opposition to him and free space for the runners around him. His passing was precise and of high quality wherein he was able to find the likes of Rashford with precise through balls in tight spaces. This is a particularly useful trait, something that only Pogba and arguably Mata can boast of in the current United team. With Alexis’ direct nature, this can prove to be a very useful feature on the long run if the players develop a connection as they continue to play together.
- After Lukaku’s introduction, Sanchez was still on the left flank and as opposed to Rashford, Lukaku was more involved in combining with Sanchez down the left. For the little time they were together on the pitch, they combined well with Sanchez always moving inside and Lukaku out
After Romelu Lukaku’s introduction, Alexis still continued to play down the left wing, albeit with more combinations with the striker. While Rashford did not drift much towards the left half space, Lukaku was often found there and held his position a couple of times there, leaving Alexis to drift inside. This is a positive for Mourinho as he will want the pair to get accustomed to each other soon enough. It remains to be seen as to what the lineup will be in the upcoming games, with Anthony Martial back in the mix. Whether or not Alexis will continue in this left sided role remains to be seen.
For now, Jose Mourinho will be happy with the result and the way his team played in the second half. He has the good problem of a team selection headache in the upcoming matches with Marcus Rashford putting in a good performance on the night while Martial himself has been in a hot run of form. With Spurs up next at the New Wembley, Jose will need to get his team selection right and ensure that they do not fall further behind Manchester City. The fact that a number of regular starters got rested today will bode well for the Portuguese manager, after having signed a contract extension earlier in the day.
Note: All the animations were made using TacticalPad