Manchester United vs Chelsea: Post-match analysis
It was not a normal day at Old Trafford as the clash between Manchester United and their fierce rivals Chelsea was slated to take place in the Theatre of Dreams. There were many talks about the inclusion of Paul Pogba in the starting XI and the meeting between Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte after their war of words throughout the season. But in the end, it was always going to be about who got 3 points.
Manchester United: David de Gea, Antonio Valencia(c), Chris Smalling, Victor Lindelof, Ashley Young, Scott McTominay, Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba, Alexis Sanchez, Anthony martial, Romelu Lukaku
Subs: Eric Bailly, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Michael Carrick, Marcus Rashford, Luke Shaw, Joel Pereira
Chelsea: Thibaut Courtois, Cesar Azpilicueta(c), Andreas Christensen, Antonio Rudiger, Victor Moses, N'Golo Kante, Daniel Drinkwater, Marcos Alonso, Willian, Eden Hazard, Alvaro Morata
Subs: Willy Caballero, Cesc Fabregas, Pedro, Olivier Giroud, Davide Zappacosta, Gary Cahill, Emerson
The start of the match, as expected, saw Chelsea dominate the possession and Manchester United were happy sitting behind the ball and played the waiting game. Chelsea managed to strike the post through Morata from an Alonso cross inside first 10 minutes but Manchester United held their ground. As the match progressed Manchester United slowly picked up their pace and they even got close to scoring - Martial passed the ball to Sanchez but the Chilean couldn't sort out his legs soon enough and failed to generate the power behind the shot.
A few minutes later, Manchester United earned a corner but it gave Chelsea a moment to counter as the ball was headed away and Pogba missed the header back to the box. Willian and Hazard combined to start the counter and the former finished it off with a thunderous finish at the near post. David De Gea certainly could have done better, but he was clearly beaten by the sheer pace on the ball. Manchester United soon gave the perfect reply with Romelu Lukaku scoring from inside the box to the right of Courtois after an inch-perfect ball from Martial.
In the second half, Manchester United looked better than the first half but it was again Chelsea who started well. Manchester United's defenders were up to the task once more and combined with Chelsea's deteriorating passing play they didn't have much trouble. Lingard came on as a substitute to replace Martia, and just like he had done for most of the season, his header proved to be the deciding goal as Mourinho's men earned all 3 points after going a goal down. Antonio Conte's substitution of Hazard in such a big game left several fans scratching their chins, as the blues slipped down to the 5th position on the table.
Undoubtedly, the best player on the pitch. He broked the jinx of not scoring against the top six teams. Remained isolated for the most part of the first half but combined well with Martial to score the first goal. He also provided a pinpoint cross to Lingard to earn an assist as well.
Came on as a substitute and scored a deciding header from Lukaku's cross. He also played his role in the defence and provided the spark in the attack. He has scored 8 goals so far in the league and with his place on the team in question with the arrival of Sanchez, this goal will go a long way in helping his confidence.
He was determined to perform well against his former club and he did so perfectly. He was always a step ahead from N'Golo Kante in the midfield and recovered the ball from the opposition (especially Alvaro Morata) on numerous occasions. His play in the midfield allowed Pogba to play his natural game.
He once again proved the faith the manager has shown him so far is worth it. Alongside Matic, he held the midfield and provided some good forward passes. He was programmed to mark Hazard and he did so efficiently. He is surely going to get a lot more chances in the upcoming period if he continues to play like this and not once did he look lost among the other big names alongside and around him.
He was struggling at the start of the season but has surely found his touch. He continued from where he left off against Barcelona. Initiated the counter and finished it off beating De Gea at the near post from a sublime pass from Hazard. He was comfortable in his runs and by far the best player of Chelsea during the course of the game.
He was solid in the midfield and very sharp going forward. He almost earned an assist when his cross was hit on the bar by Morata. He also neutralized Sanchez with his marking.
The Red devil's manager Jose Mourinho called this victory as "very special" as this win was against the defending champions. According to him, 3 points was the best result and that keeps Manchester United rooted once more to the 2nd spot which is what they are fighting for. He was also pleased with the performance of the players and said," It feels special as the players gave everything. It is not possible to win against a team with the quality of Chelsea without the quality we gave."
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte seemed disappointed with the performance of the team. According to him, his team had a great chance to get 3 points from the match but the second half let them down. He also highlighted the target of the team for the remaining season. He said, "Now we have to start to work harder this season as the league is very difficult and we need to fight for a place in the Champions League. I hope the players realise this soon."