The headline hogging encounter this weekend, other than the small matter of the FA Cup final proved to be a humdinger of an affair as Jose Mourinho's men came from behind to bag all three points for the home side. With seemingly everyone coercing out explanations for recent results against Sevilla and Newcastle, victory against Chelsea would go some way in allaying fears of missing out on a top four spot.
For Antonio Conte though it was another bad day at the office. After a tremendous display of composed football against Barcelona, Chelsea surrendered the lead due to some school boy defending and Sunday was no different as the Italian had to witness more of the same as his side could only hold on to the lead for 7 minutes. With Manchester City, Barcelona and Tottenham lined up, Conte faces a tough month of March. Let's take a look at what we learned from the game.
Chelsea need to put in a season defining peformance at the Nou Camp if they are going to get past this Barcelona side and central to that ambitions will be Willian. At Stamford Bridge he tortured the life out of Sergio Busquests, hitting both posts from long range and scoring a stunning diguised effort.
Against Manchester United he was at it again, opening the scoring for the Blues. Talk all you want about the importance of Eden Hazard to this team but apparently its the Brazilian who is the main man for Antonio Conte and Chelsea would hope he can get on the scoresheet in Spain.
Jesse Lingard scored his 13th of the season and what a goal it might prove to be come the end of the campaign. His winner has given United a 6 point gap over rivals Chelsea meaning Mourinho has some breathing space with the Champions League encounter against Sevilla proving to be a potential banana skin followed by a tough home fixture against Liverpool.
The Englishman came off the bench to give United all three points as Mourinho started with McTominay, Matic and Pogba with the Frenchman in the advanced position many had been crying out for. However the number 6 cut a frustrated figure, failing to influence proceedings– getting beaten by Victor Moses in the air for Chelsea's opener. He is not a defensive midfielder and Mourinho has apparently accepted that with the introduction of McTominay into the fold and with Lingard's indispensable scoring touch, time may be running out for Pogba.
Another disappointing day for the Spaniard. When his counterpart at the other end made all the difference for United, Morata produced another lackadaisical display in-front of goal. He struck the bar in the 4th minute when a player of his caliber would have buried the chance. Brought for a mammoth fee to replace Diego Costa, the former Real Madrid man is proving to be a real dilemma for Antonio Conte.
If he is really going to become the target man for Conte, he needs to stiffen up and stay on his feet rather than going down like the Titanic at every little touch. His goals have dried up leading to Chelsea preferring a false 9 role of Pedro. On Sunday the manager trusted him to lead the line versus United, fast forward 75 minutes and Conte must have been regretting his decision.
Injuries have been harsh on the youngster who is surprisingly still only 22 having seemingly been around for all of eternity. Intermittent displays have been promising but he has struggled to nail down a place under Mourinho. His omission against Sevilla in the Champions League was understandably a tactically astute decision with the more experienced Ashley Young preferred over him on European away days but another blank against Chelsea seems to suggest that the Portuguese manager is not fully convinced of his ability.
The home tie against Sevilla surely has to see him start at Old Trafford, the game against Liverpool could present a grinder for United's left backs against Mohammed Salah. What will Mourinho go for? Pace or Experience?
The London Club find themselves in a bit of a slog at the moment. They are not too bad but they are dangerously close to becoming mediocre. On one day they dish out a world class performance against Barcelona and another day they get walloped by Watford. To be fair, the results have been self inflicted for Antonio Conte. Nemanja Matic should have never been sold and Tiemoue Bakayoko should have never been brought.
Similar points can be made about the signings of Danny Drinkwater, Olivier Giroud, Alvaro Morata and Ross Barkley– they are uninspiring. The Blues have made a habit of deploying world class players in their line-up and aforementioned names are anything but that. Whether or not these were Conte's choices is still unclear but if Chelsea are to retain Eden Hazard next summer, they need to buy quality.