Chelsea made a big step towards their first Premier League title of Jose Mourinho’s second spell at the club on Saturday afternoon, defeating Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United side by one goal to nil at Stamford Bridge. Let’s take a look at some of the talking points:
Chelsea will not be stopped
It may seem like an obvious thing to say, but Chelsea are now virtually assured of the Premier League title. The Blues are 10 points ahead with just six games remaining, and it would take a collapse of catastrophic proportions for Jose Mourinho’s men to fail at this point.
The fact that the Blues have the title almost sewn up so early on should not be glossed over. Whatever might be said by fans and pundits alike, Chelsea have been the best side in the League this year – by quite some distance. Whether you like Mourinho’s style of football or not, you have to concede that when it comes to Premier League football, it’s devastatingly effective.
Jose is still the tactical king
Whilst we’re discussing Mourinho’s style, it would be remiss not to mention that this win at Stamford Bridge represented a clear tactical win for the Portuguese manager. Cynics who dislike Chelsea will point to the Blues playing the game in defensive fashion, but the reality is that what lasts in football are trophies won and titles claimed, not how flamboyant your style is.
Whether you enjoy watching Mourinho’s sides play or not is somewhat by the by; any student of the game cannot help but be impressed by his ability to meticulously plan for a whole variety of eventualities.
Chelsea were not just defensive, but incredibly planned-out too. Having spotted that Marouane Fellaini has been one of the shining lights of United’s recent form, Kurt Zouma was despatched to shut the Belgian down, which he did with aplomb. After understanding that United’s fullbacks like to cut back inside, the Chelsea defenders prevented them from doing so.
It was a master-class in tactical preparation. Should van Gaal have true aspirations for the title next season, this is the sort of length that he must go to.
Chelsea lack striker strength in depth
With Diego Costa on the sideline, and Loic Remy not fit either, Chelsea looked to Didier Drogba to lead the line for the second time in as many games. And he struggled. The reality is that Drogba is now not good enough for games of this magnitude, and whilst Mourinho will have been content to field the Ivorian given Chelsea’s significant lead at the top of the division, he will be keen not to depend too much on the forward if he ends up retaining his services for another year.
Diego Costa has been a revelation in his first season at the club, but if he continues to suffer injuries in the way that he has done this year, Mourinho may need to think seriously about employing another top-class striker for those times when Costa is unavailable.
Hazard sealed his prize
Eden Hazard put in another fantastic performance that all but sealed his status as the League’s best player. Whilst there were other worthy nominations when the Player of the Year candidates were announced a few days ago, the fact of the matter is that it is impossible to look past Hazard. Strong, skilful, intelligent, the Belgian is the finest player in the Premier League. The question is, will Chelsea be able to keep him, or will he begin to be tempted by the allure of Spain or Germany? Time will tell.
The Falcao experiment has failed
When it was announced that Radamel Falcao would join Manchester United on loan, United fans could be forgiven for being extremely excited. After all, it’s not that often that an established foreign superstar opts to come and play in England.
Unfortunately, it’s a move that really hasn’t worked out for either party, with Falcao struggling for form and fitness, and United preferring the talents of Wayne Rooney in the centre forward position.
Given the opportunity to play centre stage against Chelsea, Falcao failed to prove his worth, and it will now be a long few games until the end of the season when Falcao can depart Old Trafford with a bruised ego.