A late equalizer from Ross Barkley made for a dramatic ending to a thrilling game at Stamford Bridge, as Chelsea maintained their unbeaten start to the season.
Pundit Arena outline ten quickfire conclusions from Chelsea v Manchester United:
1) The ‘game of two halves’ cliche was apparent. Chelsea looked by far the better team in the first half, with United largely unable to keep the ball and did not register a shot on target before Martial’s well-taken first goal.
2) Chelsea fans were well up for it from the start. Early kick-offs in the Premier League sometimes have a reserved atmosphere, however, the Chelsea fans were in full voice to get behind Sarri’s men. They even applauded a poor shot from out of form striker Alvaro Morata in the first half.
3) United recognized the threat of Eden Hazard and responded to it tactically. He was well marked by Ashley Young and often deployed Nemanja Matic in an effective double-team tactic. Young and Matic chose to foul him early rather than let him turn, highlighted by early bookings to the pair.
4) Sarri ball is taking effect. Chelsea’s midfield moved the ball incredibly fast in the first half, providing a stark contrast to United. When Matic and Pogba did have the ball, they took too many touches and Chelsea were able to either get men behind the ball or win the ball back quickly.
5) Lindelof looked shaky and uncomfortable on the ball. He was unfairly blamed by Pogba for the Chelsea goal, who accused him of blocking his path to follow the run of Anthony Rudiger. However, Mourinho will be rueing his failure to secure reinforcements at centre-back this season.
6) Rashford is not a natural winger. Mourinho’s insistence in playing Romelu Lukaku up front by himself forces Martial and Rashford to play out wide in roles that they are not comfortable in. Rashford’s pace gets him into good areas but he cannot seem to deliver the right ball or make the right decision in the final third. The 20-year-old’s recent performances for England suggest that he does have the talent and might need to leave United on loan in order to play every week in his preferred position.
7) Martial stepped up with two brilliant finishes. Like Rashford, he looks uncomfortable on the wing at times and his tendency to cut onto his right foot leaves United with a lack of width. However, he showed his worth to Mourinho and United fans with two big goals that looked to seal the three points for United until Barkley’s late equalizer.
8) Mourinho was criticized by Gary Neville for going with a very attacking line-up prior to the game. His decision to play Juan Mata behind Lukaku left United short in midfield at times, but the Spaniard was fired up for the game and played a key part in Martia’s second goal.
9) Ross Barkley could become a big player for Chelsea. Although he hasn’t been able to nail down a regular place in the starting eleven since his arrival from Everton, Barkley has stepped up his performances since the arrival of Sarri. His good form was rewarded by a return to the England squad, and the midfielder provides a great option from the bench.
10) United showed great character to get back into the game. They looked short of confidence in the first half as they were outplayed by Chelsea. However, good performances from Ashley Young, Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial and Romelu Lukaku in the second half inspired a United fightback. They didn’t have much of the ball but hit Chelsea on the break and two brilliant goals from Martial put them on the brink of victory, before Barkley’s late equalizer and Mourinho’s moment of madness.