In what was a heavyweight Premier League showdown on Wednesday night, Manchester United clinched a lively 2-1 victory against Chelsea at Old Trafford.
While Bruno Fernandes might have missed from the penalty spot after just nine minutes following Enzo Fernandez’s foul on Anthony, Erik ten Hag’s side didn’t have to wait long to open the scoring.
With the red-hot Scott McTominay powering home 10 minutes after Fernandes’ missed spot-kick, United appeared to be cruising towards a deserved first half lead.
However, continuing to shine since arriving from Manchester City over the summer, Cole Palmer produced a wonderful finish just minutes before the interval as the England U21 international notched his fifth Premier League goal of the season.
Although Mauricio Pochettino’s men might have been smelling the chance to spring a real upset at Old Trafford, the Blues once again showed their inconsistencies as McTominay bagged his second of the night midway through the second half.
Now recording just a single win from any of their previous four Premier League appearances, Pochettino’s side are now only hanging onto their spot in the top-half thanks to their goal difference.
On a night when Manchester United moved just three points adrift of breaking into the Champions League spots, we have taken a look at the key talking points from Old Trafford.
Ten Hag makes a statement to his critics
At the heart of a media storm over the past few days, it has been no secret that there has been mounting pressure returning on ten Hag’s shoulders.
However, although Manchester United might be seeking a real Champions League miracle in their bid to punch a Champions League knockout stage ticket, Wednesday’s guests will take plenty of positives away from an eye-catching performance here.
Remarkably now sat just three points adrift of defending champions and bitter local rivals Manchester City, the former Ajax boss has certainly eased some of the pressure on his position in the Old Trafford dugout.
With their sights firmly set on claiming another crucial top-four finish this season, ten Hag’s men have won four of their previous five Premier League appearances.
Breathing life back into their Champions League charge here securing back-to-back wins at Old Trafford for the first time since the end of October, United should be smelling a golden opportunity when Bournemouth arrive on Saturday afternoon.
Who can stop McTominay?
While Rasums Hojlund might still be waiting to open his Premier League account and Marcus Rashford enduring a public struggle, it has been McTominay who has been United’s most lethal marksman this season.
Although it might have been heavily suggested over the summer that United’s homegrown star could be heading for the Old Trafford exit, the Scotland international has quickly become a key part of ten Hag’s plans in Manchester.
Enjoying what was a record-breaking EURO 24 qualifying romp with Scotland this year after notching seven goals in his eight Group A appearances, McTominay has certainly been firing on all cylinders.
Producing a wonderful brace here and unfortunate not to have left with the match ball, the 26-year-old is enjoying by far his most productive spell since breaking into United’s first team ranks back in 2017.
Chelsea at their inconsistent worst once again
Although Chelsea might have made a crucial return to winning ways last weekend as they clinched a 3-2 victory against Brighton, the Blues certainly came crashing back down to earth here.
While Pochettino’s side might have hoped that they had turned a welcomed corner prior to November’s international break, the ex-Tottenham boss has seen his squad gain a reputation for their inconsistencies.
Marking their return from the fortnight break with a woeful 4-1 drumming at the hands of Newcastle, Chelsea now find just their goal difference keeping them in the top-half of the table.
With Pochettino clearly unimpressed at the final whistle and with a mounting headache over his side’s rather glaring issues at the back, Wednesday’s guests have won just one of their previous four top-flight appearances.
Desperately seeking some much-needed stability and without a clean sheet to their name since the start of October, Chelsea could face a tough challenge when they travel to Goodison Park this weekend.
Manchester United: Onana, Dalot, Maguire, Lindelof, Shaw, McTominay, Amrabat, Antony, Fernandes, Garnacho, Hojlund
Subs: Evans, Rashford, Reguilon
Chelsea: Sanchez, Cucurella, Diasi, Silva, Colwill, Caicedo, Fernandez, Mudryk, Palmer, Sterling, Jackson
Subs: James, Broja
Goals: Manchester United: McTominay (19’, 69’) – Chelsea: Palmer (45’)
Yellow Cards: Shaw, Garnacho, Dalot, Reguilon
Red Cards: N/A
Referee: Chris Kavanagh
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