Manchester United put up a buccaneering performance as they shredded Chelsea apart with an epic 2-0 victory in a Premier League encounter at Old Trafford on Sunday.
The performance- perhaps their best of the season- caught everyone by surprise as Jose Mourinho fielded a second string side captained by Ashley Young, in light of the Europa League return leg against Anderlecht on Thursday: Little did they know that a masterstroke by ‘The Special One’ beckoned.
Marcus Rashford made amends for a miscued attempt in the opening exchanges by scuffing the ball past Asmir Begovic to gift the hosts with the opener in the seventh minute.
United went on to dominate the entire game against a Chelsea side clearly rattled, with Ander Herrera doubling the advantage right after half-time.
A meltdown ensued on Twitter soon after the release of the team sheets in which Jose Mourinho had rested the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Luke Shaw and Michael Carrick, while Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial not even made it to the bench.
The one subtle lesson that Mourinho has however taught everyone is that his methods should never be questioned.
United started in a customary 4-4-2 formation scarcely used by the Portuguese, before transforming to a 3-5-2 that was designed to repel Chelsea’s counter attacking threat.
And repel it did, as it nullified the threat Pedro, Eden Hazard and Diego Costa who failed to register a single shot on target.
On the opposite end however Manchester United were fluid and creative, as Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford provided the much needed pace upfront.
Wingbacks Matteo Darmian and Ashley Young stroke the balance between defense and attack, while Paul Pogba, Ander Herrera and Marouane Fellaini contained N’Golo Kante, Eden Hazard and Nemanja Matic respectively.
Apart from being all over Hazard like a rash, Ander Herrera orchestrated matters in the middle of the park by exhibiting another fine performance that puts him in top contention for captaincy next season.
Jose Mourinho’s hopes of guiding Manchester United to their 21st English title may have long fizzled out, but 54-year old just played an intricate role in determining the next Premier League champions.
Chelsea’s loss to United has blown the title chase wide open, narrowing the gap at the top of the table to just four points with six games to go.
Although the Blues still have the advantage, Mourinho may have just provided the blueprint for Chelsea’s downfall: one that other Premier League teams will be keen to exploit- and not for the first time.
During his time at Chelsea the Portuguese orchestrated Liverpool’s downfall with a 2-0 win at Anfield, eventually gifting the 2013/14 Premier League title to Manchester City.
Will the defeat mark the beginning of the end for Chelsea?
Written by Brian Humphrey
Follow Brian on Twitter @brihum
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