Chelsea’s torrid form at Old Trafford continued as they fell to a big defeat which saw Manchester United secure a spot in the top four.
The Blues suffered their second defeat to a Manchester team in a row, losing 4-1 in Thursday nights fixture against Erik ten Hag’s team.
The game started with good pace, both teams looking to make an impact but it was the home side who gained an early lead on the sixth minute. Casemiro finding space in the box to convert a header from the Christian Eriksen free kick.
The away side had the larger of possession and created a handful of opportunities in the first half. Mykhailo Mudryk, Kai Havertz and Conor Gallagher with the clearest sights on goal for Chelsea but it was United who doubled their lead through Anthony Martial on the stroke of half time.
Throughout the second half, similar trends continued. The home side nearly had a third when Bruno Fernandes struck the cross bar from the edge of the box.
Frank Lampard’s team again looked threatening and managed shots on target, forcing David de Gea into action but failed to get themselves back into the game.
The result was sealed when Wesley Fofana gave away a penalty in the final 20 minutes and Fernandes got his goal, calming sending Kepa Arrizabalaga the wrong way to make it three.
Things went from bad to worse for Lampard’s team after another mistake from Fofana lead to the returning Marcus Rashford tapping in his 30th goal in all competitions this season.
The only bright spark of the second half came as Joao Felix scored a wonderful solo goal, driving the ball into the corner from the edge of the box.
A second defeat in a row means further anguish for Chelsea fans with just one game of the season remaining, at home to Newcastle.
Here are five things Absolute Chelsea learned from Thursday’s loss in Manchester.
1) Chelsea back line struggle in defence
Chelsea’s back four haven’t played together a lot and this was apparent throughout the game. United creating regular chances and breaking through the back line with ease. To break the deadlock, Casemiro found himself a free header and into the second half, mistakes meant United were given easy goals.
It does show that the west London side are reliant on 38-year-old Thiago Silva. Without the Brazilian leading the defensive line, Chelsea lose leadership and control. How much Silva will play next season remains unclear, with the pressure potentially falling on Wesley Fofana, Benoit Badiashile and Levi Colwill, should he remain once he returns, to take the Blues forward.
2) Familiar story in front of goal
In the first half, Chelsea saw 61 percent of possession and had seven shots, creating strong scoring opportunities but as fans became used to under Graham Potter, the lack of conviction in front of goal was apparent.
There were three clear chances for the attackers in the first 45 and each of them failing to hit the target. Mykhailo Mudryk and Kai Havertz missing glorious chances. This story is something fans are used to seeing throughout the season and reaffirms the need for a high quality striker signing over the summer break. The second half forced David de Gea into some saves and it was only for Joao Felix’s late consolation goal that gave Chelsea’s travelling supporters something to cheer about.
3) Younger players bring the only positives
Frank Lampard named a team including players that fans have been calling out to start in recent weeks. The Blues side had nine starters under the age of 25 and the first half was one of the better performances from Chelsea under the interim coach.
If Lampard can take any positives away from the defeat, it’s the performances of the likes of Noni Madueke, Lewis Hall and Carney Chukwuemeka who showed they have what it takes to be regular starters in the side, as long with the usual Enzo Fernandez. The main threats came through Madueke and Chukwuemeka who looked confident and composed at Old Trafford.
4) The Mason Mount saga
One thing is lingering over Chelsea as the season comes to a close, and that’s the contract situation with Mason Mount. It’s becoming clearer that the club need to find a resolution with the Blues academy graduate to over his Stamford Bridge future. Frank Lampard was asked about it pre-game once again.
With talks of close rivals looking to sign the English midfielder, there are obvious feelings that this would be another transfer sale decision that the club would regret. Close eyes will be on Mount in the final game of the season against Newcastle, to see if the 24 year old is saying his goodbyes to the fans.
5) The end of the season is needed… badly!
With just one game remaining in the season, everyone at the club will breath a big sigh of relief when the full time whistle goes at Stamford Bridge next weekend. Chelsea’s worst campaign in a long time has gone from bad to worse and the defeat to Manchester United was one of the lowest moments for Blues fans.
In the second half of the game, there was a clear lack of effort and belief from the players, conceding three goals and making costly mistakes. The faces on the players and coach showed that everyone is waiting for the season to end so the rebuilding can start ahead of the next campaign.