Chelsea failed to reclaim their place in the top four as Manchester United came from behind to beat them 1-0 at Old Trafford on Sunday.
The visitors were the dominant of the two sides in the first half, mustering their first effort on goal after just five minutes as Alvaro Morata shot onto the crossbar from Marcos Alonso’s cross. The Red Devils though, slowly started to find their feet as Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez took their first shots on goal.
But, it was Chelsea who finally broke the deadlock, just post the half-hour mark as Willian initiated and finished a fine move past David De Gea, who should have done better. Manchester United subsequently amped up the pressure, which saw them level things up through Lukaku, who poked the ball home after some lovely interchange by Sanchez and Anthony Martial.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 25, 2018
The second half saw the Blues go on the attack once again, with Danny Drinkwater coming the closest to giving them the lead once again. But, it was Manchester United who had the last laugh as Lukaku’s cross was headed in by Jesse Lingard with 15 minutes left on the clock.
Chelsea wouldn’t have a reply to the goal as they dropped out of the top four, now six points adrift of Manchester United. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Antonio Conte’s men.
Thibaut Courtois: 7/10
The only positive for Chelsea at the back, Courtois made three saves, the most notable of those being in the second half from Romelu Lukaku’s acrobatic shot. While he did concede two goals, the Belgian had very little chance to stop either effort, with the first catching him wrong footed and the second too far.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 6/10
There was very little to fault out of Azpilicueta on Sunday. But, as the player donning the armband and the leader at the back, it was up to him to keep the defensive line in shape. Instead the back-three was rather organised ever too often, and settled in too deep in the second half. Manchester United duly obliged.
Andreas Christensen: 5.5/10
Coming off a strong, yet forgettable outing against Barcelona, Christensen needed to be solid to help his side to all three points. But, it was his absence inside the box that allowed Lukaku slight free room to get his shot into the net. The Dane was then culpable in the second goal as well as he allowed Lingard too much time and space to head the ball in for the winner.
Antonio Rudiger: 5.5/10
Rudiger did well to nullify the threat of Alexis Sanchez on the afternoon, but Romelu Lukaku’s physicality proved to be too much for him. Like Christensen, the German too, was partly at fault for the hosts’ second goal as he gave Lukaku acres of space to compose himself and cross the ball towards Lingard.
Victor Moses: 6/10
A game of two halves for Moses. The Nigerian was lively and proactive to begin with, giving Ashley Young a lot of problems on the right flank, albeit without an end product. In the second half, he tailed off considerably, with his defensive output leaving a lot to be desired as well.
N’Golo Kante: 6/10
The tireless Frenchman has seen better days in a Chelsea shirt. Kante did do his job diligently, working hard to absorb the pressure while releasing the ball to initiate his side’s attack, he had a lot on his plate thanks to his personal battle with Paul Pogba. Did as much as he could but needed more support from the men around him.
Danny Drinkwater: 6/10
Preferred ahead of Cesc Fabregas as Conte chose to add more steel in midfield, Drinkwater did most of the defensive work well, with three tackles and two interceptions to show for his efforts. Going forward though, he left a lot to be desired, barring a long-range effort that almost helped him score against his former club.
Marcos Alonso: 6/10
Alonso had his personal battle going with Antonio Valencia all through the game, with each player nullifying the other, meaning neither could be as effective as they usually are, especially in the final third. So, apart from a delicious early cross for Morata, there was very little of note from Alonso on Sunday.
The brightest spark for Chelsea, as he has been in recent weeks. Willian was lively from start to finish, embarking on run after purposeful run that gave Victor Lindelof a hard time all through the game. The Brazilian gave his side the lead on the day, starting and finishing a flowing move after interchanging a one-two with Eden Hazard.
Willian for Chelsea against Man United:
Most touches (90)
Most take-ons completed (8)
Most shots on target (3)
Most goals (1)
Still a great performance. pic.twitter.com/JsAQUtFjyN
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 25, 2018
But, that wasn’t all that he had to show for his efforts on Sunday. Willian also had the most touches (90), the most take-ons completed (8) and the most shots on target (3) in the match, although it all ended up being futile in the end.
Alvaro Morata: 5.5/10
Making his long-awaited return to the starting lineup, a lot was expected out of Morata, who was bang on the money in the reverse fixture. This time around though, his opposite number ended up getting the better of him by producing a man-of-the-match performance.
The Spaniard had one chance of note in the first half, when his effort hit the crossbar, and another in the second, when he was wrongly adjudged to be offside.
But, apart from the two moments, there was very little of note from Morata, who was dispossessed five times and went down to a challenge too easily. With Olivier Giroud breathing down his neck, it’s high time he pulled his socks up.
Eden Hazard: 6.5/10
Like most of Chelsea’s other players, this turned out to be a game in which Hazard was a factor in the first half before petering out in the final 45 minutes. The Belgian did provide the assist for Willian’s goal and had four key passes, but couldn’t affect the proceedings when it mattered the most.
Brought on for Hazard with 20 minutes left on the clock, Pedro did absolutely nothing of note, leaving one wondering just why Conte took the Belgian off, who had been largely lively up until then.