Chelsea kept pace with the rest of the top four with a vital 1-0 win against Manchester United. Here are five things we learned.
Title race over?
Despite it only being early in November, Manchester City are way out in front of the rest, with a staggering eight point lead on 31 points, with a goal difference to match. The rest of the league can only sit back and admire.
In fact, there are the same amount of points between first placed Man City and second placed United, as there are between Man Utd and Huddersfield down in tenth. It seems as though the remaining five teams of the big six are already just fighting to be in next seasons Champions League.
Manchester United have an £89m hole in their midfield
The more Manchester United have to play without Paul Pogba, the more you realise what he brings to the side. The Frenchman’s ability to find a pass, as well as drive into the space ahead of him are exactly what United have been missing in recent weeks, especially against Liverpool, Spurs and now Chelsea.
He is back at Carrington, and despite Jose Mourinho saying he does not know when he will be back, he will certainly be hoping it will be as soon after the upcoming international break as possible.
Chelsea’s ‘three at the back’ better than United’s
Essentially, both sides set up with a 3-5-2 system, but with a slight variation.
The lack of options for Manchester United certainly forced Jose Mourinho’s hand, with only Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera available for the whole of October and early November. The third player in the midfield for United was Henrikh Mkhitaryan who was once again ineffective playing in front of his other midfielders.
However, with N’Golo Kante crucially sitting behind the midfield duo of Tiemoue Bakayoko and Cesc Fabregas, this was where the game was won for the Blues. While Mkhitaryan was invisible, the creativity of Fabregas and energy of Bakayoko were plain for all to see, and allowed Chelsea to grab the crucial three points.
Chelsea got the better deal for their number nine?
The summer was all about Manchester United signing Morata and Chelsea being in for Lukaku, only for Man Utd to steal a march on £75m Lukaku and Chelsea have to settle for the £58m Morata.
However, in this fixture, it’s was the Spaniard who showed his qualities the most with an energetic display up front for the Blues, scoring a sublime header to keep the three points at Stamford Bridge.
Lukaku, while improved on his previous games, looks far less threatening in his overall play and is now without a goal in seven games.
Mourinho shows he doesn’t always park the bus
Much has been made about Manchester United’s recent games, especially against Liverpool and Tottenham, with Jose Mourinho accused of parking the bus in the big games.
However, in what was a surprise to the spectators, United didn’t park the bus. In fact the bus seemed nowhere in sight. It was an end to end encounter with both sides pressing their opponent into mistakes.
Ultimately however, the combination of two of the above points contributed to the result. The lack of the likes of Pogba and a fully fit Fellaini, and United’s inability to get past the resolute trio of Bakayoko, Kante and Fabregas was the main difference on the day.
On another day, Mourinho’s men could have scored, and indeed conceded several goals in this intriguing fixture. However, as both sides mirrored each other’s systems, they effectively cancelled each other out in this entertaining 1-0 win for Chelsea.
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