Both Manchester United and Chelsea will have kicked off the Premier League season with hopes of being crowned champions in May.
Manchester United, under the stewardship of former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, were heavily tipped by many to be the team to go head to head with Manchester rivals City in the title race. Chelsea kicked off the campaign as defending champions and were looking to defy the odds against the big spending Manchester sides by lifting the trophy.
Things haven’t really gone to plan for both United and Chelsea this season. City have run away with the title and both sides have been left languishing behind. While the title race is all but over, this had added extra spice and importance to the games between those teams in the hunt for a top 4 finish. Manchester United vs Chelsea is always a big fixture but you could say that this time around it was worth more than the three points.
First of all there’s the ongoing spat between Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte. Both managers have spoken about each other in the media and there have been clashes between the pair previously. It was always going to be a battle in that sense, with bragging rights and a huge ego boost on the line. There was also going to be the opportunity for Mourinho to get one over on his former employers and players too and it was a good chance for Romelu Lukaku to show Chelsea were wrong to let him go.
The bigger prize on offer was that if United won, they would then go six points clear of Chelsea and they did just that. Things couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start for United at Old Trafford as Willian opened the scoring for the visitors just over the half hour mark. United quickly struck back through Lukaku less than ten minutes later, proving to the critics that he can score goals against the top sides in the Premier League.
Mourinho had started the game with Anthony Martial out wide but replaced him with Jesse Lingard and this paid dividends. Lingard managed to bag the winner just over ten minutes after being introduced to the action, giving Untied a huge win and seeing them open up a slender two point advantage over Liverpool in third.
Finishing second in the league is certainly the priority for United at this stage, that and pushing neighbours City all the way. It’s highly unlikely that Pep’s charges, recently crowned as the Carabao Cup champions, will squander their advantage now but Liverpool and Spurs are going to push United all the way.
You could say that United’s win pretty much rules Chelsea out of challenging for second place, with them much more likely to be battling for fourth. It will also raise further questions over Antonio Conte’s future at Stamford Bridge too, with them likely to end the season empty handed. Jose Mourinho certainly has had the last laugh too, for now.