Alvaro Morata prolific in the air: Seven deadly stats as Chelsea beat Man United 1-0

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Manchester United suffered a 1-0 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Alvaro Morata scored the only goal of the game as Jose Mourinho failed to impress against top six opposition yet again.

Here’s a look at seven deadly stats from the encounter.

SPANISH CONNECTION

Morata’s header in the second half ended his goal drought and once again, he had Cesar Azpilicueta to thank. Of his six league goals this term, the defender has assisted him for five.

That’s the most frequent combination between two players in the Premier League this season.

MORATA USING HIS HEAD

It was a pretty straightforward run through the middle to exploit the huge space between two of United’s centre-backs but Morata has certainly made a habit of scoring headers this season.

His four headers in the league is two more than any other player has managed this term. In fact, he’s scored more headed goals (10) than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues since the start of last season.

MOURINHO’S TOP SIX RECORD

Jose Mourinho’s record against the top six has done its rounds of late but after yet another black mark on it, here is the updated version.

Out of his last 11 games against top six opposition away from home, the Portuguese has lost six and drawn five, winning none and scoring just four goals.

Jose Mourinho

Jose Mourinho

LUKAKU ISOLATED

While Morata enjoyed a goal-scoring performance, Lukaku barely had a sight at goal. Struggling for service, the Belgian only had 23 touches in the match and had none inside the box.

Romelu Lukaku

Romelu Lukaku

THE FELLAINI ROUTE

It’s a little embarrassing that Mourinho, still regarded as one of the finest managers in the modern game, has no other Plan B than to lump it forward to the big man.

Marouane Fellaini is most definitely that man and after being brought on in the 61st minute, managed to win a whopping eight aerial duels, twice as many as any other player in the game.

STAMFORD BLUES

Stamford Bridge has not been a happy hunting ground for United in the Premier League.

They’ve won just once in their last 16 visits, drawing five and losing 11.

Their one victory was back in 2012 when Chelsea were reduced to nine men.

BEASTLY BAILLY

While the defeat won draw too much attention to this, Eric Bailly’s performance against Chelsea was outstanding.

He made five interceptions, five clearances, two tackles and a block. He was even fouled five times and managed one key pass.

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Time for Andreas Christensen to stick around and other things learned from Chelsea's 1-0 win over Man United

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Manchester United could have no complaints as Chelsea brushed them aside at Stamford Bridge to make a resounding statement in the Premier League.

Digging into the fallout, three names in particular stood out as Antonio Conte heads into the international break with a grin while Jose Mourinho must go back to the drawing board.

Here’s what we learned from the encounter.

Time for Christensen to stick around

Since John Terry made his debut, Chelsea have waited two decades for another one of their own – and though Andreas Christensen is hardly a born-and-bred Blue he is certainly a player who can stay at the club for a long time yet.

The 21-year-old delivered the performance of his young career after Antonio Conte favoured playing the Denmark international over David Luiz in what he called ‘a tactical decision’.

Whether there is more to the David Luiz omission or not, Chelsea fans will not be desperate for him to return. Christensen treated Stamford Bridge with shades of Terry in the way he handled Romelu Lukaku.

But hearteningly his development gives hope that Chelsea’s youth players have more to look forward to than perennial loans.

Christensen, who signed from Brondby as a 15-year-old, enjoyed two full seasons playing domestically and in Europe with Borussia Monchengladbach and has already won 11 caps for Denmark.

Perhaps Swansea loanee Tammy Abraham will be looking on and wondering whether he can repeat the trick.

Andreas Christensen.

Andreas Christensen.

Ungainly Fellaini can stand tall for United

A fit-again Marouane Fellaini was at his ungainly worst off the bench at Chelsea, squandering possession and dribbling into blue shirts for much of the 28 minutes he was on the pitch.

However, he also produced United’s best chance of equalising – swivelling after taking down a ball on his chest only for Thibaut Courtois to parry away his scruffy shot.

In the absence of Paul Pogba, Fellaini seems the only man to give United thrust down the middle. Henrikh Mkhitaryan is woefully out of form, Ander Herrera is not playing much better and Nemanja Matic simply cannot do the job of every man.

Amazingly he won eight aerial duels in his cameo appearance – more than twice as many than anyone else managed.

The hope is that Pogba will return after the international break but there are far worse options than Fellaini if you are looking for inspiration, especially in a team that look utterly devoid of it at the moment.

Marouane Fellaini.

Marouane Fellaini.

No need for Matic with Kante in town

Selling Nemanja Matic may not have been the wisest move in Chelsea’s history but N’Golo Kante’s performance proved why there was a fair amount of logic behind it.

Kante won the ball back 11 times from United, more than any other player on the pitch, but he is continuing to show he’s so much more than a ball-winning midfielder.

The Frenchman is migrating a little higher up the pitch and has an underrated range of passing – and taken as a whole package, he is simply a better player than a solid Matic.

Though Tiemoue Bakayoko is no world-beater yet, it makes sense that Conte would attempt to pair Kante with a player who can drive on up the field with a little more energy in his legs.

If Bakayoko marries his enthusiasm with end product then Chelsea will have added another dimension to an attack that boasts width through their wing-backs and a return to form for both Alvaro Morata and Eden Hazard. And much of that is down to Kante.

N'Golo Kante.

N’Golo Kante.

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Chelsea and Manchester United player ratings as Morata scores 8 and Lukaku 5

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Star man: Alvaro Morata.

Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata condemned Jose Mourinho to another damaging defeat against his former club as the champions clinched a crucial 1-0 win over Manchester United on Sunday.

Morata rewarded an enterprising display from Antonio Conte’s side when the Spain striker headed home early in the second half at Stamford Bridge.

This was an especially painful setback for Mourinho as a second defeat in their last three Premier League games leaves second-placed United lagging eight points behind leaders Manchester City.

While Mourinho licks his wounds, Chelsea manager Conte can take heart from a vibrant performance that keeps his fourth-placed team nine points behind City.

Here are our player ratings…

CHELSEA

THIBAUT COURTOIS: Hardly called upon. Made one save from Romelu Lukaku in the first half and a late stop from Marouane Fellaini. 7 (out of 10)

CESAR AZPILICUETA: After a rare indifferent spell, Mr Consistent was back. Did not put a foot wrong and set up the goal. 8

ANDREAS CHRISTENSEN: Selected ahead of David Luiz. Performed well in defence, but missed a good headed chance in the first half. 7

GARY CAHILL: Back on the left of the back three with his confidence seemingly restored. 7

DAVIDE ZAPPACOSTA: Useful outlet down the right but crosses let him down. 6

N’GOLO KANTE: How Chelsea have missed him. Provided the balance that had been absent in the last six games. 8

TIEMOUE BAKAYOKO: Deployed further forwards and did not take his chances, especially in the first half. Yellow for foul on Jones. 6

MARCOS ALONSO: Had seemed fatigued in recent weeks. Was much better here. 6

ALVARO MORATA: Showed why his signing was such a coup. His movement was brilliant and resulted in his goal – although he fluffed a late chance for a second. 8

CESC FABREGAS: Revelled in the return of Kante and less defensive responsibility. Showed his class on the ball. 8

EDEN HAZARD: Heavily marked throughout and recipient of some hefty tackles. Missed a sitter. 6

Substitutes:

ANTONIO RUDIGER (for Zappacosta, 66 minutes): Brought on to combat United’s heavy artillery and did just that. 6

DANNY DRINKWATER (for Fabregas, 79): Defended doggedly as United pressed late on. 6

WILLIAN (for Hazard, 87): Had plenty to do defensively and played through Morata, but the chance was spurned. 6

Cesc Fabregas.

Cesc Fabregas.

MANCHESTER UNITED

DAVID DE GEA: Could do little to prevent Alvaro Morata’s superb header on an afternoon when he dealt with everything else. 7

ERIC BAILLY: Talented but still raw, the centre-back was largely reliable as the pressure mounted. Morata’s goal left big questions though. 6

PHIL JONES: One of United’s best performers this season, he scored a wonderful early goal… past his own goalkeeper. Thankfully for him it was cancelled out due to a foul. 5

CHRIS SMALLING: Having been dropped by Gareth Southgate and seen his ability on the ball questioned by England’s manager, he performed well enough until Morata scored. 6

ANTONIO VALENCIA: A consistent performer as valuable in attack as defence, he was unable to fly down the flanks with regularity at Stamford Bridge. 6

NEMANJA MATIC: Back at his old stomping ground, the Serbian was a composed presence in midfield – but he could do little to prevent pockets of space opening around him. 6

ANDER HERRERA: A pain in the backside for his opponents, the tenacious midfielder was a thorn in the side throughout. Lacked regular quality. 6

ASHLEY YOUNG: Rejuvenated under Mourinho, he performed diligently at wing-back but did not set the match alight. 6

HENRIKH MKHITARYAN: The Armenian’s latest anonymous performance. A shadow of the player he was towards the back end of 2016-17. 5

MARCUS RASHFORD: Full of running but lacked service and a cutting edge, despite late efforts to draw level. 5

ROMELU LUKAKU: Back at his former home, the striker forced Thibaut Courtois into a first-half save but rarely looked like ending his goalless run stretching back to the end of September. 5

Substitutes:

ANTHONY MARTIAL (for Mkhitaryan, 62): Brought on to inject another attacking dimension but could not change the course of this match. 6

MAROUANE FELLAINI (for Jones, 62): Rusty on his return to the team. Fortunate that a sloppy pass was not punished, but threatened towards the end. 5

JESSE LINGARD (for Ashley Young, 78): Added extra running and impetus, but there just was not enough time to turn things around. 6

Romelu Lukaku.

Romelu Lukaku.

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