Chelsea fall short as 5/10 Batshuayi's missed chances haunt Londoners in loss to Man United
Manchester United are now within three points of fourth place after a crucial 2-0 win over rivals Chelsea on Monday night. In a first half of little quality, United's Anthony Martial provided a rare moment of magic, heading home superbly on the stroke of half-time to hand the away side a 1-0 lead.
Chelsea came out strongly in the second half and even had the ball in the net courtesy of Kurt Zouma, only for VAR to rule it out due to a push. That decision would prove to be a crucial one, as just 10 minutes later Harry Maguire rose highest to head home from a corner and ultimately seal a vitally important win the race for the top four.
As a defensive unit, United now look like a side well-equipped to deal with most dangerous attacking units. While Michy Batshuayi did have a couple of opportunities, the away side were excellent at turning over possession while also dominating the aerial duels. Additionally, Eric Bailly's triumphant return to the team will also please Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to no end.
In the absence of Marcus Rashford, United often looked blunted going forward. With the travelling side reduced to sporadic counters, Daniel James and Anthony Martial were isolated for large spells. Thankfully for United, when Martial did get a sniff at goal, he was clinical. That said, on another occasion they could have easily left Stamford Bridge pointless and goalless.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, 7 -- With few chances throughout the first half, it had appeared the United boss was too defensive in his tactical game plan. However, Martial's goal proved to be crucial, as it partly justified Solskjaer's decision to sit in deep and wait for Chelsea to make a mistake. Despite some nervy early moments, Bailly's inclusion also proved to be an excellent selection call.
GK David De Gea, 6 -- The Spanish stopper had little of note to deal with in the first period as both sides struggled to create clear chances. The second half tested his handing ability, which didn't faze the 29-year-old too much.
DF Eric Bailly, 8 -- The speedy defender recovered well from some early blunders to play a crucial role in United's victory. He made a handful of vital tackles and interceptions to stake his claim for a place in the side on a regular basis.
DF Harry Maguire, 9 -- Could have been dismissed in the first half for a brainless kick-out at Batshuayi after spilling off the pitch during a 50:50 challenge for the ball. He survived a VAR review and went on to star for United in the second half, rounding off a dominant display with a towering header to score his side's second goal of the game.
DF Luke Shaw, 7 -- Despite making his name as an attacking wing-back, Shaw appears to be thriving as part of a central back three. He can tackle well and also boasts the ability to play out of defence, something he again demonstrated tonight.
MF Aaron Wan-Bissaka, 8 -- After half-an-hour, the former Palace man looked alarmingly off the pace. However, much like Bailly, he improved as the game wore on and ended the first half with a crucial assist, whipping in a sensational cross for Martial to guide home.
MF Fred, 7 -- A much improved display from the eternally frustrating midfielder. He was superb centrally in turning over possession, with the only real negative being his end product when in dangerous attacking areas.
MF Nemanja Matic, 6 -- A mixed display from the former Chelsea man, who was often wasteful in possession. With that being said, his work rate certainly never wavered.
MF Brandon Williams, 6 -- A slightly underwhelming game for the Manchester-born left-back, who looked ill-at-ease to stop Willian in his tracks. Going forward it was a similarly tough evening, with most of Williams' crosses missing their intended targets.
FW Bruno Fernandes, 7 -- United's big-money January signing was arguably their most creative player in the first half, combining well with the likes of Fred despite the fractured nature of the game. He went on to clatter the post in the second half with an audacious free kick attempt.
FW Daniel James, 6 -- Cut a frustrated figure throughout, having to rely on scraps with little in the way of support. He was unsurprisingly replaced in the second half having failed to impact the game.
FW Anthony Martial, 8 -- Scored the vital opening goal against the run of play, beating Andres Christensen to the ball and picking out the far corner of the net with a divine guided header. Despite being isolated up front, the Frenchman didn't stop trying to manufacture goalscoring chances.
MF Andreas Pereira, NR -- Came on with 10 minutes remaining to replace the ineffective James.
FW Odion Ighalo, NR -- Given his debut in second-half stoppage time in place of Martial.
MF Diogo Dalot, NR -- Also saw out the final two minutes in place of Fernandes.
Chelsea's quest for UEFA Champions League qualification took a hit at Stamford Bridge on Monday as they were beaten 2-0 by Manchester United in the Premier League.
Anthony Martial gave the visitors the lead on the stroke of half-time with a nice header, whereas Kurt Zouma wasn't quite so lucky as he saw his equaliser ruled out by VAR. Harry Maguire proceeded to make it a two-goal lead in the 66th minute, with substitute Olivier Giroud's late goal also being chalked off for offside.
There were points in which the quick one-touch passing style of the Blues got them into some nice positions and, in the first half especially, they were spreading the ball well from pillar to post. They created plenty of solid opportunities and had United backtracking on several occasions, and logistically speaking, they did manage to put the ball in the back of the net twice.
Chelsea allowed Manchester United to slowly but surely work their way back into proceedings by allowing them to take control of the possession game. When Chelsea went forward, for all of their short bursts of pace, they just didn't have the final touch or piece of quality necessary to put the game beyond United. The hosts also need to work on maintaining their structure, especially through the middle of the park.
6 -- Frank Lampard had this starting XI playing with composure for the first 10 minutes or so in a structured 4-3-3, and then it all seemed to fall apart. He was relying far too heavily on the counterattack and clearly needs to work on getting these players into a spell of consistency with their positional play. His substitutions certainly signalled an attacking intent, but they just never followed through on that for the boss.
GK Willy Caballero, 5 -- While the backup's distribution was solid enough, he seemed to stumble in the big moments, such as the first United goal where he probably could've been more central.
DF Reece James, 5 -- For all of his searching balls down the wing and stern battles with Brandon Williams, James still feels like a defensive liability with his tendency to drift out of position and leave holes at the back.
DF Andreas Christensen, 5 -- The Dane's no-nonsense approach to getting the ball out of danger held up until Martial's header, which he failed to get up for -- although his nose injury, suffered moments beforehand, could be partially to blame.
DF Antonio Rudiger, 6 -- As time goes on, Rudiger seems to be reading the game better than he has in the past, with his towering presence in the air always coming in handy -- right up until he makes a vital error, as was the case for Maguire's header.
DF Cesar Azpilicueta, 6 -- It's all well and good being able to get in around the back but when the final ball isn't there, it doesn't mean a whole lot. With that being said, he was slightly unlucky to be blamed for Chelsea's first disallowed goal.
MF N'Golo Kante, N/R -- It was a short night at the office for Kante who went off injured within the first 10 minutes.
MF Jorginho, 5 -- From not tracking his man to rarely winning the ball in midfield, this highlighted why Jorginho isn't a natural central midfielder.
MF Mateo Kovacic, 7 -- This could've been a whole lot worse without Kovacic leading Chelsea in the middle and driving them forward time and time again.
FW Pedro, 6 -- The erratic nature of Pedro's insanely quick style causes some issues, but largely, it was a spirited display that showcased his desire to succeed in this team.
FW Michy Batshuayi, 5 -- Being a capable defensive forward is admirable but Batshuayi missed a handful of vital chances and just doesn't seem to have the sort of flair necessary to thrive in this Chelsea team.
FW Willian, 5 -- The Brazilian always seems to cope better when he's distributing the ball quickly as opposed to being exposed in high-pressure situations, which wound up being his primary issue on the night.
DF Kurt Zouma, 6 -- The defender's disallowed goal probably should've stood, and many will argue he should've started the game from the first whistle.
MF Mason Mount, 7 -- In one of his best performances of the campaign so far, Mount carried the ball well, added creativity when coming on and even struck the post.
FW Olivier Giroud, 6 -- The Frenchman got himself into decent positions and was narrowly offside for his disallowed header.