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Manchester United’s string of rotten luck at Stamford Bridge stretched further when the Red Devils lost by a solitary goal to Chelsea in the Premier League on Sunday.
The hosts looked sharper and could have gone ahead in the early exchanges had a Phil Jones own goal not been overruled after a foul by Alvaro Morata.
United were imposing for greater margins of the first half but Marcus Rashford and Nemanja Matic couldn’t find the target from close range.
An end-to-end first half closed in a stalemate, but it was Morata who broke the duck soon after the interval with a towering header to hand United their second defeat of the season.
Outran in midfield
Nemanja Matic was invariably bought in the summer to replace Ander Herrera, as an improved version of the Spaniard, not pair with him.
This explains why United blitz past teams whenever Matic is paired with either Paul Pogba or Marouane Fellaini, but often struggle and lack a deftness of touch when the Serbian is paired with Herrera.
There could have been a level playing field had N’Golo Kante been sidelined for Chelsea, but the return of the France international ahead of the injured Pogba and the rusty Fellaini saw Manchester United completely blown apart in the middle of the park.
Outwitted back three
Jose Mourinho started with a formidable back three of Eric Bailly, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling; with full-backs Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young occasionally pressing high as wingers.
Having a back three left Morata with a country mile of space, as the former Real Madrid forward connected with Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross to score a brilliant header.
The approach may have worked against Tottenham- as the lineup remained unchanged from the win over Spurs- but Jose Mourinho’s fallback plan after the goal could have been his starting strategy.
Manchester United were yet again handicapped by Jose Mourinho’s decision to start Henrikh Mkhitaryan despite his recent counterproductive presence.
United appeared a man down for most quarters as the Armenian failed to live up to the star billing in the absence of Pogba.
With eight points now separating the Manchester sides at the top of the table, City are seemingly disappearing into distance with the Premier League title.
Written by Brian Humphrey
Follow Brian on Twitter @brihum
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