After a great defensive performance against Manchester United on Saturday, Jose Mourinho and his Chelsea pretty much have locked up the top spot in the Premier League and are cruising towards their first league title since the 2009/2010 season. Chelsea can secure the title by winning the next two games against Arsenal and Leicester.
Manchester United came out strong at Stamford Bridge and had a vast majority of the possession throughout the whole game. They put a lot of pressure on the Chelsea defense early in the game, but were unable to break through. Wayne Rooney had a great opportunity in the early stages, but his left-footed shot from just outside the penalty area snuck just outside of the post of Thibaut Courtois in the Chelsea goal. With an offensive quartet of Rooney, Falcao, Ashley Young and Juan Mata, United had several potential match winners on the pitch. Ander Herrera was put in the holding midfielder role as Michael Carrick was out with an injury, United also had to make changes in defense as Marco Rojo, Phil Jones and Danny Blind also missed out due to injury.
United kept pushing forward, but Chelsea did a great job at limiting the chances for United and forced them to take shots from the outside. In the 38th minute, Eden Hazard broke into the United penalty area after a fine pass by Oscar and Hazard slotted the ball between the legs of David De Gea from close range on the left side. It was Hazard’s 13th league goal of the season, and he’s certainly making a case for himself to become Player of the Year.
United tried to keep pushing and grab an equalizer before halftime, but they were unable to get anything past Courtois. United had 70% of the possession, but with the great positional play by Chelsea in defense, it didn’t make much of a difference as United failed to hit the net with a lot of their shots.
In the second half, the air seemed to go out of the United side as they were unable to create anything of note. Chelsea were physical in defense and Didier Drogba, Branislav Ivanovic and Oscar all were shown the yellow card in a span of nine minutes.
Hazard almost got a second goal, but he was denied by the goalpost after he tried to put in the ball from a very tight angle near the goal after a shot by Drogba took a deflection of a Untied defender and went in a loop over De Gea and off to the left side.
It was a well-deserved victory for Chelsea and they truly look like champion side, and despite missing their two top strikers were able to handle a team that was on a six-game winning streak. The ability to change the playing style depending on the opposition is what makes Chelsea such a great team and a lot of credit needs to go to Mourinho as he once again shows why he’s considered to be one of the managers in the world.
United shouldn’t be too discouraged about the narrow loss. They had to make four changes in the starting lineup from the team that won the Manchester Derby last weekend, and they still pressured the top team in the league. As long as they bounce back with a win over Everton next week, they’ll be in a good position to finish in the second or third spot.
For Chelsea, they have a huge London Derby against Arsenal next week, in a game that could take them one step closer to the Premier League Trophy. A win over Arsenal and a win over Leicester in the following game and Chelsea are your 2014/2015 Premier League Champions.