Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United: Alvaro Morata seals deserved win with world-class header to leave Jose Mourinho’s Premier League title hopes in tatters
After the horrors of Rome in midweek, this was some performance from Antonio Conte’s Chelsea.
Committed, aggressive and assured, Chelsea were superior to Manchester United by a greater margin than one goal. Only a late United comeback caused Antonio Conte’s team any discomfort at all and had the late aerial pummelling of the Chelsea penalty area brought Jose Mourinho and his players anything at all it would have felt a little unjust.
Alvaro Morata’s brilliant second-half header was enough to secure all three points, with Antonio Conte’s decision to leave David Luiz out of the match-day squad vindicated by a clean sheet. Ultimately, Manchester City can consider themselves the real winners from the result, as they extended their lead at the top of the table to eight points. Star man?
Tiemoue Bakayoko put in his best performance in a Chelsea shirt and he was a constant thorn in Manchester United’s side. The £40million summer signing has been criticised by many since his switch from Monaco, but after the return of N’Golo Kante to Chelsea’s midfield, he seemed to really find his feet against Mourinho’s men.
There was no drama between the two managers this time but as Mourinho waited for a handshake from his conqueror at the final whistle, Conte chose instead to celebrate with fans behind the dugout and then moved onto the pitch to congratulate his players. Only then did Mourinho head down the players’ tunnel to reflect on a second defeat in three Premier League games.
David Luiz’s future at Chelsea is in the balance after Antonio Conte failed to provide guarantees the defender would remain at the club.
The Brazilian was omitted from the Chelsea squad for the 1-0 win over Manchester United on Sunday. It followed rumours of a falling out between the pair, although before the match Conte said the decision was purely tactical. Andreas Christensen played instead and 17-year-old Ethan Ampadu was on the bench.
Conte repeated the tactical reason again after the match. ‘It was a tactical decision and for me today Christensen played a fantastic game with focus and spirit,’ Conte told Sky Sports. ‘He is 22 but shows a great personality for sure. Christensen is the future for Chelsea. Ampadu is only 17. I trust in these two young players.’
When asked if Luiz, who looked in good spirits during the match as he sat behind the dugout, had a future at Chelsea, Conte replied: ‘I don’t know. He has to work really hard otherwise they are on the bench or in the stands.’ He added in his post-match press conference: ‘I think that I have a squad, a squad with 16 senior players and five young players and I have these players and then I have to make the best decision for the team and I try to do this. ‘You’re talking about the future but every day you put my future in… It’s normal that from now until the end, every game, every day sometimes, someone puts my future in question.’
When it was put to him that he said Luiz was his best player a few weeks ago, Conte replied: ‘It can change.’ Luiz returned to Chelsea from Paris St Germain in the summer of 2016 and was a mainstay in defence as the Blues won the title last season.
Conte added a warning to his other players. ‘It’s normal, this can happen to every one of my players. If I see they are not in good form, it’s normal. I have to put in every situation my face and sometimes I make important decisions.’
Graeme Souness said it was a risky decision from Conte to drop Luiz. ‘You can do it if you’re in a position of strength but it was a huge call. If that had gone wrong you can bet it would have been mentioned. ‘Something has obviously happened which has upset the manager greatly. He’s won today without him, a reminder to everyone in that dressing room who’s the boss.’