Man United 2-1 Chelsea: 5 Things We Learned

 • by Andrew Gibney
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Manchester United, on the back of witnessing Tottenham Hotspur pick up a late win at Crystal Palace, knew they needed a result at home against Chelsea on Sunday.

Jose Mourinho continued with the 4-3-3 which picked up a draw away at Sevilla, but added Anthony Martial to the attack for a more positive look to his starting XI.

Yet, it was Chelsea who bossed the first-half and took the lead when Willian raced through to fire past David De Gea.

United would hit back through and Romelu Lukaku would equalise in the first half before setting up Jesse Lingard for the winner.

The home side move back into second place with the three points and open up a six-point gap over them and Antonio Conte’s side.

Here are five things we picked out from Manchester United’s 2-1 win over Chelsea on Sunday.

Big Time Lukaku

It’s been the one criticism constantly aimed at the burly Belgian forward, but on Sunday, when Manchester United needed him most, Lukaku stepped up and  made a huge impact.

After going behind to Willian’s goal, the former Chelsea man ended his drought, showed great strength and scored his first of the season against a team in the top eight.

Finishing with five shots, 38 touches, one key pass and one completed dribble, the 24-year-old wasn’t finished and put the icing on the cake by setting up substitute Jesse Lingard for the winner.

Moving out to the right-wing, Lukaku jinked inside and played the perfect cross with his left foot, finding the midfielder’s head.

The doubts over his ability have always felt harsh and underserved. United struggle to play to his strengths, especially under Mourinho. Sunday proved he does have what it takes to be a big impact player.

McTominay Struggled in Man-Marking Role

Last season, when Mourinho pulled off a surprise 1-0 victory against Chelsea at Old Trafford, Ander Herrera was superb in his man-marking job against Eden Hazard.

On Sunday, Scott McTominay, after his stellar display against Sevilla was handed the same role.

The 21-year-old, in just his sixth Premier League game, showed why inexperienced youngsters shouldn’t be handed such an important role.

For Chelsea’s opening goal, the midfielder was doing well to track Willian as the Blues hit on the counter, but when the Brazilian gave the ball to Hazard, McTominay was dragged to the ball, leaving the 29-year-old to storm through on goal to beat David De Gea.

Too many times, although doing a great job to track Hazard’s movement, he failed to see simple one-twos develop and was easily dragged out of position.

A very able defensive midfielder, he showed he’s not quite ready for the man-marking role.

Can Hazard Find The Next Level?

Eden Hazard of Chelsea during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea

When you look at players such as Neymar, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, when push comes to shove, they step up when their team needs them most and inspires them to victory.

In the first half, Hazard combined beautifully with Willian to open the scoring, but in the second half, the Belgian all but vanished.

Although he was man-marked by McTominay, there was space to exploit, he just didn’t get on the ball enough to make an impact. During the second 45 minutes he only made 21 of his 67 touches.

On the face of it, his four key passes and four completed dribbles represent a decent performance, but when the Blues were up against it after the break, they need the 27-year-old to take his game to the next level.

He didn’t, and Chelsea lost. Hazard’s ability to do this, or not, as is more often the case, is what stops him become one of the best players in the world.

Sánchez Failing To Make An Impact

All the way from the summer to the January transfer window, Manchester City looked to be favourites to land Alexis Sánchez. United jumped in at the last minute to offer the Chilean a deal he couldn’t refuse.

He arrived to great fan-fare, but so far his arrival at Old Trafford hasn’t lived up to the billing.

Sunday was just another example. Playing behind Lukaku, the former Arsenal forward failed to add much to the attack. He sat far too deep, and never looked a serious threat to the Chelsea back-three.

On the one occasion he did get close to the Belgian, he linked up with Anthony Martial to create the opening goal.

Ending the game with one shot on target, one key pass and one completed dribble is not enough for one of your highest paid players.

In the fixtures against the rest of the top six, Alexis needs to do more to influence the results if he is going to be a success in Manchester. He’s lucky Lingard bailed him out.

Matic Stepping Up

After much criticism from his own fans, the Serbian midfielder decided to show up his old team-mates and in the second half, his defensive display was a key reason why Manchester United came away with the win.

Nothing Nemanja Matic does is spectacular or eye-catching, but on Sunday he put in a great shift and reducing the time Chelsea’s attack had the ball.

With McTominay doing the man-marking job, the 29-year-old was left to mop up any danger the Blues created.

Winning four tackles, making four interceptions and three clearances, there is little doubt Matic did his job and his patrolling of that area in front of the defence was crucial on Sunday.

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