Chelsea welcomed Manchester United to Stamford Bridge on Sunday in the midst of a mini-crisis, having suffered a 3-0 defeat against Roma earlier in the week in Champions League that left manager Antonio Conte under severe pressure.
United seemed to have steadied the ship last week after a mini-slump of their own by beating Spurs, and then winning their Champions League fixture, so Jose Mourinho definitely came into this game as the happier of the two managers.
But it was Chelsea who put in the superior team and won thanks to a superb Alvaro Morata goal. It leaves United still in second place but now eight points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City, with Chelsea now just a point behind United.
Here we analyse the two managers’ performance in this pivotal game.
Shots – 18
Shots on target – 8
Pass success – 79%
Aerial duel success – 48%
Dribbles won – 10
Tackles – 15
Possession – 54%
Shots – 10
Shots on target – 2
Pass success – 76%
Aerial duel success – 52%
Dribbles won – 4
Tackles – 13
Possession – 46%
Conte switched from his usual 3-4-3 to a 3-5-2, opting to reinforce Chelsea’s midfield. It was an understandable decision, even with N’Golo Kante returning, as the three-man midfield of Kante, Tiemoue Bakayoko, and Cesc Fabregas offered the right balance between attack and defence.
The big call was to drop David Luiz, who has struggled in defence recently – although the decision was probably largely due to an injury. In place of the veteran Brazilian, Conte brought in Andreas Christensen, and the young defender repaid the manager’s faith in him with a solid performance.
Conte’s selection, formation and style worked, especially with the license it gave Chelsea’s defenders to join the attack, which is what led to the Blues’ goal – Cesar Azpilicueta, restored to his centre-back role, stepping forward to provide the cross for Morata’s winner.
Mourinho opted to match Conte’s Chelsea formation to start off with, also setting up United in a 3-5-2. The formation kept Chelsea at bay in the first half, but in the second half, the hopes turned up the pressure and United couldn’t cope.
Once they went behind, Mourinho brought on Marouane Fellaini and Anthony Martial, but that wasn’t enough to get a goal as Chelsea’s rearguard held off United with relative ease.
Conte rarely betrayed the pressure he must be feeling, as he was the animated Chelsea manager we’ve all become used to seeing, rather than the stressed, stalking figure who’s been more familiar in recent games – although even that version is fairly animated in expressing his frustration. On Sunday, his emotions were bared for all to see, as he lived every moment with his team and celebrated Morata’s goal with typical flair.
The combative Mourinho actually wasn’t wearing his trademark scowl, as he tried to urge his team on in search of a crucial result. He was visibly disappointed with the defensive breakdown that led to Chelsea’s goal, but other than that he was a much more positive presence than what would be expected.
Conte would have expected a response from his side, and he got one. For perhaps only the second time this season, after the win against Tottenham, Chelsea played like the reigning champions they are, looking composed and in control of the game even when it was 0-0.
Mourinho paid no notice to the critics and set his side up to be compact and contain the opposition, offering very little in attack. Chelsea created more chances and deserved the win and United didn’t capitalise on the few that came their way. It’s up to the manager to rouse his team and renew the fight for the league title, with Manchester City now eight points ahead.
Conte outclassed Jose
Bakayoko outclassed Matic
Morata outclassed Lukaku
Chelsea outclassed United
Chelsea Football Club are back guys👏🏻
— . (@OfficialCheIs) November 5, 2017
— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) November 5, 2017
Brilliant performance and win defined by #CFC winning the big match-ups:
1. Conte vs Jose
2. Bakayoko vs Matic
3. Morata vs Lukaku
— Garry Hayes (@garryhayes) November 5, 2017
Manchester United under Jose Mourinho away against the top six:
W0 D3 L4 (one goal scored)
— B/R Football (@brfootball) November 5, 2017
11 away games for Mourinho against the top six without a win. One goal in the last 10. That’s so poor.
— Scott Patterson (@R_o_M) November 5, 2017
Manchester United away to Top 6 rivals under Jose Mourinho:
Goals scored: 1
Wins: 0 pic.twitter.com/UQwLovclXo
— Footy Accumulators (@FootyAccums) November 5, 2017
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.