So there are three games to go, Utd are 5 points clear. They’ve been infuriatingly good all season and I desperately need them to bottle it. Utd had Wolves at home and West Ham away…safe to say I thought I had no chance.
First and foremost we needed to make sure we did our bit and win our remaining two games before we faced Utd at Old Trafford.
We did our part with consummate ease with Milinkovic-Savic stealing the show across both games with a hattrick and then a brace – what a guy….but what about Utd? Surely even that complete and utter bastard Mourinho couldn’t screw it up this close to the finish line?
He only bloody worked his magic the only way he can when he obviously wants to be sacked so he can pocket a hefty compensation fee…two shocking results against mediocre sides sees Utd drop 5 points – that’s right, we’re top of the league on GD and level on points going into the final day, where we face each other in a mammoth, cards on the table, up in the air, epic, bastard final game where the winner takes all…well the title anyway. I was so bloody nervous.
We haven’t won away at Utd since the save started, in fact, we had only ever managed 1 point away from home, so I had to change something with my usual approach.
This is how my away 4-1-4-1 lined up, I’d changed my ML from a WM-A to a W-S and gave Sessegnon a huge responsibility in that position for this game, I’ve been training him as a CWB since he joined so I was hoping he would provide more defense in the wide positions as well as have the pace & dribbling skills to cause Utd issues.
I also pulled Bellerin’s duty back from attack to support to add some conservatism to his play. I also decided to play my backup RB, Vitinho, at MR with the same thought process as Sessegnon, provide more of a defensive player in the wide positions but as with Sessegnon, can also bomb forward.
Utd lined up in their trusty 4-2-3-1 that had served them so well at home this season, notably Alexis wide left & Higuain up top.
We needed a solid defensive performance and that’s exactly what we got.
Here we can see that my back 4 are nice and compact after we concede possession from our own goal kick. Vitinho (MR) & Sessegnon (ML) are already running back towards our goal to support the defence whilst our central midfield three keep Utd’s central 3 occupied in packing out the middle of the pitch, suffocating space.
Another time where Utd look to build an attack and we remain compact both across the back and midfield. Asensio presses the ball whilst our remaining midfielders and soundly positioned in their zones.
When we had possession we passed the ball well and created a few chances, only a few of them clear-cut (both from Utd mistakes). Here we see Dybala dropping deep to collect the ball, top of the pitch (circled red) is Tierney and we can see that he’s my FB-A whereas Bellerin is FB-S just by Tierney’s more advanced position. Dybala has 3 passing options as our players maintain their positions well.
Arguably the best 0-0 we’ve played, ever. And by the far the most satisfying, no longer is Mourinho the smug git, tis I! Utd bottle it winning none of their final 3 games and we win the title for the 3rd consecutive season thanks to our far superior, swashbuckling goals scored column as we averaged 3 goals a game.
This iteration of the 4-1-4-1 would continue into the following season and on reflection, prove to be such a pivotal moment in this save.