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16th Apr 2017

Gary Neville pinpoints what went wrong for Chelsea at Old Trafford

Paul Moore

The league leaders were out of sorts against Manchester United.

When Chelsea signed Marcos Alonso from Fiorentina for a reported fee of £24 million, some people raised their eyebrows.

In their opinion, Antonio Conte was paying over the odds for the former Bolton Wanderers defender but as we’ve all seen his season, the Spaniard has been an absolutely vital player for the league leaders.

In fact, his versatility is a key reason why Conte’s preferred 3-4-3 formation has been such a success because Alonso has excelled as a wing-back this season.

As Gary Cahill stated earlier, Chelsea made absolutely no excuses following their 2-0 defeat to Manchester United, but Neville believes that Conte’s side really missed the former Real Madrid player at Old Trafford, especially in relation to how their overall system functioned.

Minutes before kick-off, Alonso pulled out of the starting XI due to a virus. Kurt Zouma came into the team, taking up a position on the right of Chelsea’s back three, as Cesar Azpilicueta moved to Alonso’s regular position on the flank.

Speaking in his punditry role for Sky Sports, Neville stated that Alonso’s absence was felt by the visitors. The former Manchester United right-back also believes that Chelsea are overly dependent on the Spaniard’s availability to make this system work.

‘If they’d have lost Hazard and Costa and come here to lose I’d say fair enough.  They’ve lost Alonso, are they that finely-tuned that they lose a left-back, he’s a decent left back but he’s not Roberto Carlos! And we’re saying that basically they can just fall apart? It did imbalance them without the left-foot of Alonso, there is no doubt about that. It’s a little bit worrying that it does though, one injury to your outfield player, that was the perfect Chelsea team apart from one player.’

Drawing comparisons to the injuries that other teams in the league are currently coping with, Neville believes that Conte will have to strengthen this area in the near future.

‘United had six or seven players missing, Liverpool had Lallana, Henderson, Mane out so every team misses players. So to think that one player missing would have that level of disturbance. It is disturbing moving forward, it is a glimpse moving forward for Chelsea that if they are going to drop so far with one or two injuries, they do need to strengthen that squad,’ he added.