On Sunday, Manchester United dominated and humiliated Chelsea. The scoreline was 2-0 to United, not that embarrassing, but the way in which United ‘controlled’ Chelsea was humiliating enough for the visitors. This game can have a major impact on the whole Premier League season, a game which has brought Spurs back into the title race and a game which has brought United back into the hunt for a top four finish.
Hardly anyone predicted a United win, let alone one which was so dominating and convincing, so much so that Chelsea couldn’t muster a single shot on goal, the first time that’s happened since 2007 when United were again the team and 2-0 was also the scoreline. Because of that, it has prompted many to say that it was the greatest post-Fergie display by United. Jose Mourinho made a very clear plan: go with defensive solidity and man-mark Eden Hazard, Chelsea’s chief creator, out of the game. Ander Herrera did that job perfectly. Mourinho was clever not to give Fellaini the job of man-marking Hazard as Fellaini is pretty tall and with his low centre of gravity, Hazard would have easily got past him.
Mourinho sprung a huge surprise with his starting lineup. With Ashley Young, Marouane Fellaini and Jesse Lingard starting but with Zlatan on the bench, it looked more like a starting line-up for a game versus a relegation threatened side, rather than one for a big game. As expected, it caused a little bit of a meltdown on Twitter. But Mourinho had a master plan. United looked to play counter attacking football from the start. In the 7th minute, the tactics paid off. Nemanja Matic attempted a pass to Hazard which was intercepted by Herrera, maybe a handball, but then again David Luiz should have been sent off at the Bridge in October for that clumsy/dangerous tackle on Fellaini. But moving on, Herrera turned and picked out a brilliant pass to Marcus Rashford, in the same way as he picked out Mkhitaryan vs Tottenham. Rashford did the rest of the job, putting a well-placed shot beyond Asmir Begovic. The rest of the first half was run by United as they created a few decent chances but didn’t let Chelsea have even a half-chance.
The second half began with a confident and optimistic Old Trafford watching on. In the 49th minute, United arguably put the game beyond doubt. Ashley Young received the ball on the left from a Rashford free-kick. He drove into the box and was tackled by Zouma, but the ball ended up with Herrera who fired a first time shot which was deflected in by Zouma. In between these events, Gary Cahill lent a hand to Jesse Lingard, but he probably didn’t know that he was lending a helping hand to United. It was good sportsmanship, but sometimes in big games, you have to be ruthless. Just ask Roy Keane.
Chelsea had more possession in the second half, but with their brilliant defensive work, United didn’t let Chelsea threaten even once. With this win, United have put themselves back in the top-four race.But this was just one game and if United are to reach the top-four, they will have to put up performances of this level consistently until the end of the season. Mourinho finally took his revenge against Chelsea, even though he claimed that this was just another game for him. But, if United want to finish in the top-four then Mourinho will have to return a favour to his old club by beating Spurs on the 14th of May.