Chelsea subjected former manager Jose Mourinho to his worst ever Premier League defeat, leaving his new side Manchester United six points from the top of the table. The blues ran out comfortable 4-0 victors in their third successive league win, sending out a statement of intent to their fellow front-runners.
It took just thirty seconds for Chelsea to open the scoring; a rather hopeful lofted ball over the top by Eden Hazard caused unnecessary confusion between Blind, Smalling and the onrushing De Gea and Pedro didn’t hesitate to pounce on this uncertainty, the Spaniard knocked it past the United keeper and into the empty net, sparking scenes of bewilderment and delight around Stamford Bridge.
The visitors had very little response to this early setback, a couple of balls into the box towards Zlatan Ibrahimovic were easily thwarted. Courtois was only really called into action once in the first half, making a double save; first from a 25-yard Ander Herrera drive and then from Lingard’s follow up.
Chelsea weren’t overly impressive themselves, but doubled their lead after twenty minutes when Gary Cahill lashed a volley into the back of the net after losing his marker in the box curtesy of a fortunate deflection off a United body. Despite scoring four on Thursday against Fenerbahce, United looked beyond toothless. A real lack of attacking intent and no movement in the final third was typified when the lone striker Ibrahimovic was dropping back as far as the centre circle just to try and get involved in the game. At 2-0 down, the second half was always going to be an uphill task.
To make matters worse, Eric Bailly, one of the Reds’ better players this season, went off injured with what seems to be knee ligament damage. The next few days should tell us the extent of the blow.
It wasn’t long before Chelsea put the game beyond doubt. Despite not having many attacks, when they did come forward United always looked in danger, such was the case on 62 minutes when the tricky Hazard found himself in the box. A simple shimmy was enough to beat a sluggish Chris Smalling and give himself enough room to find the bottom-right corner.
United’s misery was compounded with twenty minutes to go when N’Golo Kante wandered into the area with ease, skipping by Smalling like he wasn’t there and expertly finishing into the corner past an understandably frustrated David De Gea.
Aside from a volleyed attempt by Ibrahimovic, the game petered out uneventfully; the Chelsea fans basking in the satisfaction of getting one over on their old boss and a rival club. Credit must go to the Man United fans who showed their support throughout such a torrid ninety minutes, it’s a shame the players in red couldn’t match them for effort.
For Chelsea, this result takes them up to 4th in the league, joining the leading pack of Man City, Arsenal, Liverpool and Spurs (only one point now separates all five of them). Manchester United on the other hand need to put a run of strong league performances together in order to stay relatively in touch with the top teams, there’s work to do for Jose.