Chelsea moved closer to winning the Premier League by defeating a weakened Manchester United at Stamford Bridge. Although United dominated possession,they couldn’t create many clear cut chances as Chelsea stood firm for 90 minutes and grabbed the three points.
Jose Mourinho is still the master
Mourinho in his second stint at Chelsea has looked vulnerable at times. Usually the master of big games,there was no coach in the Premier League(Including Fergie) who could outwit him during his first stint at Chelsea. But this season,especially after the defeat against 10 men PSG,questions were asked. His usually impeccable transfer policy was under scrutiny. But this game against Manchester United showed that the Special One is still on top of his game. The whole match went as per plan for Jose as Chelsea sat back at home for most of the 90 minutes and looked to counter whenever possible. His inclusion of Zouma to negate Fellaini,Fabregas’s role and his substitutions were perfect as Manchester United struggled to find a break through. The only individual battle Chelsea lost on the pitch was Luke Shaw Vs Ivanovic,which Jose was slow to remedy until he brought on Ramires. But Shaw’s incisive runs on the left failed to create any clear chances for Manchester United.
Marouane Fellaini is not a long term solution
Fellaini couldn’t continue his impressive form against Chelsea as Kurt Zouma shadowed the Belgian’s every move and completely dominated him. Felliani towards the end of the game was visibly knackered and was losing headers to players like Fabregas too. United need to build a team around a number 10 with a different skillset. Fellaini provides for a very good plan B and also offers solidity at set pieces. But for a team looking to win the Premier League next year and go deep into the Champions League,they need to find a new number 10.
Eden Hazard is the Player of the Year
Hazard has scored 5 goals in the last 7 games and 4 of them were the decisive goal. This sort of form allows Mourinho to set up the rest of his team defensively. Even against United,players like Fabregas and Oscar were given defensive responsibilities which didn’t allow them the freedom to influence the game offensively. It was upto Hazard to shoulder the offensive responsibility and he did it in magnificent style scoring a goal and hitting the post once.
Ander Herrera struggles to replicate Michael Carrick’s role
Carrick’s role of screening the defence and playing short quick passes might not delight the eye,but his absence had disturbed United’s balance in the center of the park. There were a couple of occasions when Herrera looked lost and gave the ball away which led to immediate Chelsea counters. Both Rooney and Herrera took turns in playing as the deepest midfielder but Paddy Mcnair ended up bringing the ball out of the defence the most. United need to find a back up to Carrick who could take up his role after the Englishman retires.