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
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