Chelsea have all but sealed the Premier League title with a gritty, hard-fought 1-0 win over Manchester United at Stamford Bridge. Eden Hazard was once again the match-winner as his first-half strike proved to be the difference in a game that was dominated by the Red Devils in terms of possession. Despite this, Chelsea looked in control throughout, remaining solid defensively and hitting with purpose on the counter.
This win puts Mourinho’s men 10 points clear of Arsenal at the top of the table with 6 games left to play. Chelsea travel to the Emirates next weekend, but the result in that game is not expected to have huge implications now that the game against United has ended in their favour.
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) April 18, 2015
Despite just the one goal, the match was an extremely entertaining affair, with lively activity throughout. We take a look at some of the major talking points to come out of this blockbuster clash:
1) Tactical Maestro vs Tactical Maestro
Louis Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho both dove deep into their tactical armoury and this set the game up nicely. The onus was on United to force the issue and they came out all guns blazing. They were particularly effective on the left, where Luke Shaw found Wayne Rooney early on to shoot just wide. There were sections in the crowd who thought he had scored, and David De Gea was seen celebrating in front of the travelling fans.
Mourinho started Kurt Zouma in midfield alongside Nemanja Matic and the Frenchman put in a dominating performance. Chelsea allowed United a lot of possession in midfield, but every player stuck to the task of not letting his player get away. The away side found it very difficult to penetrate past the final third.
Wayne Rooney played in a defensive midfield role and controlled a lot of the game and saw a lot of the ball. His cross-field passes were deadly accurate as always. Radamel Falcao, given a chance up front, looked lively in parts and hit the post in the second half.
United can be proud of the way they played in this match, but Mourinho once again showed that there is no better manager when it comes to getting the job done. Chelsea are just two wins away from being deserved champions, but there is a lot to come from Van Gaal’s men next season.
2) Eden Hazard once again proves that he is the best player in the league
If anyone had any doubts as to whether Eden Hazard deserves to win the Premier League Player of the Year Award this season, they will have completely vanished after this game. The Belgian dazzled, thrilled and amazed with his scintillating skill on the ball, and also worked his socks off to make sure Antonio Valencia didn’t get into too many promising crossing positions. His goal, which was the winner in the game, was extremely well-taken, as He ran through and waited his moment to slot in between De Gea’s legs. His 18th strike in all competitions could turn out to be his most important, as a stellar individual campaign has left Chelsea on the brink of the Premier League crown.
3) United’s season is a success as well:
After a stuttering start, Louis Van Gaal has settled in well at Old Trafford and looks to be building a formidable outfit. After last season’s debacle with David Moyes when they finished 7th, it finally seems like the club have replaced Sir Alex Ferguson. After looking out-of-sorts initially and failing with a number of strategies, the Dutchman has now found the right combination to his side. The late-season push has seen United solidify their place in the top 4, and even have an outside chance at the title before Saturday’s game. They may have lost the game, but they are guaranteed title contenders for next season.