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FA Cup 2016/17: Chelsea 1 - 0 Manchester United: Player Ratings

Chelsea qualified to the FA Cup semifinals in a mean-tempered but even clash with Manchester United. Here's how the players fared...

Chelsea 

Thibaut Courtois (GK) – 8/10

The Belgian had very little to do all game, especially after that early sending off – but it’s these kind of games that are oftent he hardest to keep in just because of the immense levels of concentration required to stay on your toes throughout. The one time he was called upon, he did exceptionally well to deny Marcus Rashford in a one-on-one. 

Cesar Azpilicueta – 8/10

The Spaniard kept both Darmian and Young quiet on the left when United were attacking, and when they went a man up, he used the available space intelligently by stepping up into midfield to completely overwhelm the midfield and wrest control of it away from a battling United side. Should improve his shooting, though – maybe his mate Kante can give him a tip or two?

David Luiz – 7/10

The Brazilian hardly put a foot wrong the duration of the match, but this had much to do with the fact that a concerted United attack after the 37th minute became a rare, valuable sight. 

Gary Cahill – 6.5/10

Like his defensive partner, the Chelsea captain had little to do with for the vast majority of the game, but he was troubled in the early exchanges, and he was at fault for the one chance that United created. He was way too easily spun by Rashford, and once the younger man got on his bike there was no way Cahill was catching up with him. 

Victor Moses (off 89’) – 7/10

The right wing-back was kept on a leash most of the time by a combination of the diligent Ashley Young, but he still had a number of good runs into dangerous areas. Couldn’t really come up with anything at the end of all that endeavour today.. 

N’Golo Kante – 9/10

The signing of the season, isn’t he? He bossed the midfield, although he was given a bit of a run for his money when Herrera was still on the pitch, and showed that there was much more to him than just a tireless engine. His shot from well outside the box was well taken and there were a couple of other moments of skill – notably a dummy that sent Phil Jones slithering away to put out the wrong fire – that showed just how good a footballer he is. 

Nemanja Matic – 8/10

The big Serb has slipped under the radar due to his midfield partner’s heroics this season, but today he showed – like he has been doing all season – just how good a central midfielder he is. Was clinical in his passing and un-fussy about his tackling – just what Conte ordered. 

Marcos Alonso – 6.5/10

The leftwing back had a relatively quiet game by his high standards this season and was frequently troubled when Mkhitaryan and Valencia took it upon themselves to run at (or get behind) him. After the Armenian was sacrificied, he had little to do and did well to keep Valencia pegged back. Though he couldn’t materially affect the game. 

Willian (off 81’) – 7/10

The Brazilian sported a new braided hairstyle, but the wingplay was good ol’ Willian. He troubled Darmian all night and gave him a good ol’ run around at times but the end product that marked him apart in the 14/15 season was lacking and he just couldn’t find that killer edge to his game. 

Diego Costa (off 94’) – 7/10

Niggly, mean-tempered, and a constant threat, Diego Costa had the most Diego-Costa-ish of games and kept Rojo, Smalling and Jones on their toes throughout. If he had connected with a superb Willian cross that just missed the outstretched leg of the forward by inches, it would capped off a rather good all round performance. Oh, and he did miss a header after being left inexplicably free inside the six yard box on a corner.

Eden Hazard – 9/10

The Belgian was an absolute delight, or an absolute terror – depending entirely on your point of view. At times he looked unplayable, and several moments stood out – none more than the one where he Cruyff-turned Smalling and left him scrambling around like a headless chicken before embarking on a run that single-handedly woke Chelsea up after a quiet opening ten minutes. As always, he was the subject of constant fouling, and he was the subject of that Herrera challenge. Never really strayed from the heart of the action, and nerves stood on for both sets of supporters when the man had the ball at his feet. It was one of those nights where you felt that he really could do anything he wanted to 

Substitutes

Francesc Fabregas (on 81’) – 6/10

Came on a touch too late to influence proceedings, but should have scored with a late, late counter. He dillied and dallied on the ball waiting for the perfect moment to shoot and allowed Rojo to make a great tackle to block him off. 

Kurt Zouma (on 89’) – NA

Michy Batshuayi (on 94’) – NA

The last two substitutions were made more to eat into the time remaining, than anything else. 

Manager

Antonio Conte – 9/10

The Italian lost his cool at a fellow manager for the first time in his time in England, but when that fellow manager is Jose Mourinho, one can understand why it happened. He sent out his team to play the way they usually do – and it worked to the t. Especially when they had the one-man advantage. 


Manchester United

David de Gea – 8/10

Dave Saves. He really does. 

The Spaniard was in superb form throughout as he kept United in it (whether with 11 or 10 men) with some splendid saves – notably off Hazard (after that firecracker run early in the first half) and Cahill (from the resulting corner). He batted away all that was thrown at him, and it would be a little harsh to blame him for Kante’s goal, though he was a touch slow on his feet as the shot went in. 

Antonio Valencia – 7/10

The Ecuadorian was a beast on the night and was a particularly threatening presence down the right flank when United were still up and attacking. After that he spent the majority of the game pegged back – he did well to shackle Alonso, andHazard’s constant tendency to drift inside meant that there was little he could do to stop the Belgian. Should have a seen a caution though, for any one of a couple of rather rash challenges he flew into. 

Phil Jones – 7/10

The man who put Wayne Rooney out of commission (not his fault, of course) had a good game as the most mobile of the three centre backs. He was an absolute beast in the air giving away next to nothing when the Blues kept winning a number of set-pieces from which they flung in some very decent deliveries. 

Chris Smalling – 5/10

The Captain on the night was not at his best and had an off day. Having been told by Oliver to ensure his team stop the rotational fouling of Hazard that they were employed in, he failed to transmit the message across. With the team down, and looking for inspiration he was nowhere to be seen – a cold hard reminder of the fact that the great on-field football captains are indeed a dying breed. On a pure defensive front was given an absolute run around by Hazard, and could get nowhere near the slippery Belgian

Marcos Rojo – 8/10

The Argentine has often been guilty of being too rash in the tackle, but he was restrained at his niggly best against the Blues. He stood toe-to-toe with Costa, and it has to be said, came up on top. Made an excellent tackle of the forward to ensure that the Brazilian-Spaniard didn’t have a chance to get a shot away from all of seven yards. 

Matteo Darmian – 6/10

The Italian was quietly efficient for the first half of the match, but slowly became more and more susceptible to lapses that allowed Willian and/or Moses to slip in behind. Chelsea’s main penetration – apart from Hazard’s dribbles – came from the right and Darmian was the main culprit

Henrikh Mkhitaryan (off 37’) – 5/10

The Armeninan never really got to show off his dribbling – which is almost on par with anything Hazard can conjure up – but was growing into the game when he was sacrificed after the red card. Hardly his fault, poor blighter. 

Ander Herrera (red card through second yellow 35’) – 4/10

Silly, Silly, Herrera. While the fact that it was not a second yellow is undisputed, the fact that it was still a silly tackle to make when there was no real need for it is equally undisputed. He was well on the way to levelling the playing field by taking on Kante toe-to-toe, and was doing a remarkably good job of it when fate, and Michael Oliver, intervened. 

Paul Pogba – 7/10

A lot of brickbats will be thrown Pogba’s way for not ‘dominating’ the game, but for the first 35 minutes, with Herrera alongside him, it really looked like he was about to grab the game by the scruff of its neck. He had pegged Matic back, and had got the better of Kante at least a couple of times, before Herrera’s sending off deflated him and reduced him to the role of midfield destroyer.

Could have also done better with a snapshot late into the game (from outside the box, not the Bournemouth style miss) but he looked tired and haggard and it showed that the kid is still just 23 years old. Give him time. 

Ashley Young (on 81’) – 7.5/10

An unusual selection, Young repaid his managers’ faith by having a tremendous game on the left defensively. He made up for Darmian’s on-off game and kept Moses out of the equation for vast stretches. Shoud have done a lot better offensively, though, especially on set-pieces when that looked like United’s best bet to get back into the game. 

Marcus Rashford – 7.5/10

Oh Rashford! The young lad worked his socks off all night as he kept Cahill and Luiz honest and did magnificently well to work the best United chance of the match for himself. A little more composure was required, though, and that one-on-one miss was to prove immensely costly. 

Substitutes

Marouane Fellaini (on 37’) – 7/10

Fellaini came off the bench as a stopgap measure and though he couldn’t replicate the rabid intensity of Herrera’s pressing, acquited himself well in what was a tremendous show of character from 10-men United

Jesse Lingard (on 81’) – 5/10

Had little time to influence proceedings, and accordingly did little of note. 

Manager

Jose Mourinho – 9/10

The manager did most things right on the night and for 35 minutes he and his team, who had been routed from the first minute the last time they came here, stood toe to toe and man-to-man with the team that were palpably the favourites. Despite missing his stars up front, United didn’t look second-best, making up for their absence witb high-pressing intensity and a strong character. Could do little about the result of the game after he went a man down with more than an hour remaining, 


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