Chelsea came out on top against Manchester United with a fantastic all round performance and Premier League goal number 7 from Alvaro Morata.
Chelsea brought their very best to what was a crucial clash at Stamford Bridge for both sides. Antonio Conte’s men were the better side in every area of the pitch and while both sides started started off brightly, it was Chelsea who stepped up their game in the second half.
Alvaro Morata broke the deadlock by scoring what would eventually prove to be the difference between the two sides in the 55th minute. Manchester United’s defence seemed to have collapsed for a brief moment, allowing the Spaniard all the time and space he needed to finish with aplomb.
While United did have their forays forward, they weren’t able to trouble Thibaut Courtois too much. Had Chelsea been more clinical, the scoreline would have likely been similar to that with which United left the Bridge with in this same fixture a year ago. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Antonio Conte’s men.
Thibaut Courtois: 8
Had little to do other than make two major saves, one from Romelu Lukaku in the first half and a brilliant one from Marouane Fellaini in the second half. However, in a game of such fine margins those two saves were crucial. The Belgian was otherwise rarely troubled in the air and stayed alert when in goal.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 8
Got the better of Marcus Rashford and even set up Alvaro Morata’s goal with a superb cross field pass. It was his fifth assist of the season, more than any other Premier League defender. The Spaniard also made the most number of successful tackles in the game. Clearly more comfortable here than at right wing-back.
Andreas Christensen: 8
Chelsea’s best defender on the night. The Dane started in the centre of Antonio Conte’s back-three in place of David Luiz and didn’t disappoint at all. He did have some tense moments towards the end of the game, but his positioning, tackling, intercepting were all on point and as a result, Lukaku and Rashford barely got a sniff of goal.
Gary Cahill: 8
The Englishman has been coming under a lot of scrutiny for his performances in recent weeks. However, this outing was a superb one from the Chelsea captain, easily his best of the season as the veteran Englishman kept Lukaku and Rashford quiet and cut a resolute, composed, mature figure in defence.
Davide Zappacosta: 7
A solid display from the Italian. He didn’t venture forward too often and was focused on dealing with the threat of Ashley Young, who he kept quiet for most of the game. Was subbed off for Antonio Rudiger in the 66th minute to give him some well deserved rest.
Tiemoue Bakayoko: 7
Took charge of the midfield with his immense energy. With N’Golo Kante beside him, he looked a different player and they together nullified both Ander Herrera and Nemanja Matic. In his personal battle, the Frenchman got the better of the Serb on the night, the man he was supposed to replace.
An extremely industrious display and it was easily one of his best performances so far this season. Had 2 huge chances to score, though, and he squandered both and it the only reason why he hasn’t been given a higher rating.
N’Golo Kante: 9
Arguably the best player on the pitch, the diminutive Frenchman’s reintroduction into the starting XI made Chelsea look like a completely different side. Tiemoue Bakayoko was free to go forward while Cesc Fabregas’ defensive responsibilities seemed to have vanished.
With his screening of the defence, his tireless tackling, intercepting and his ever improving ability on the ball, Kante brings the best out of his teammates. He seemed to be everywhere, and the United midfield just couldn’t cope with his energy. A truly world class display from a world class player.
Cesc Fabregas: 8
Fabregas seemed as if a burden had been taken off his shoulders and looked like a man refreshed. N’Golo Kante’s introduction took away a majority of his defensive duties and gave him the freedom to focus on doing what he does best, running the show from midfield.
The former Arsenal man’s passing ability was on full display and he was the most prolific passer in the game. He created 6 chances for his teammates, and his industry and creativity was rewarded with the Man Of The Match award, not that there was any shortage of contenders.
Marcos Alonso: 7
The Spaniard had a relatively quiet game as he couldn’t get forward to try and influence the proceedings as much as he would’ve liked. Kept busy by Antonio Valencia, Alonso, though, was never caught out of position. A solid display as he won most of his aerial duels and made some key interceptions.
Eden Hazard: 7
A constant foul magnet, the Belgian put in yet another industrious display. Absolutely thrives in that free role, which allows him to roam around and take on whoever he wants. Frustrated the likes of Phil Jones and Ander Herrera to no end and got them both booked.
Completed 4 take ons and got close to getting on the scoresheet with his 3 shots on target. However, will be disappointed to not get a goal or assist. Still looked like his side’s most creative and threatening attacking outlet for the majority of the game.
Alvaro Morata: 8
What a time, place and finish to end his goalscoring drought. The Spaniard was coming off of his worst performance in a Chelsea shirt against AS Roma in the Champions League and hadn’t scored a goal since their victory against Atletico Madrid back in September.
A constant threat to the United central defence and he seemed desperate to get on the scoresheet from the very beginning, playing with a level of menace and bite never seen before this season. However, he would’ve been given a higher rating had he finished his other two chances better.
Comparisons between him and Lukaku were to be expected, given how fiercely both of them were linked with a move to their respective opponents over the course of the summer and while the Belgian will have his chances to redeem himself, it was Morata who came out on top on Sunday.
Antonio Rudiger: 7
Rudiger was brought on for Davide Zappacosta in the second half to try and provide a more stable defensive cover as Conte looked to close the game. Came in to the right and did what was asked, as he kept Rashford and Ashley Young as quiet as possible and saw out the tense final minutes of the game with good composure.