Football Features

Man Utd 2-1 Chelsea: Erik ten Hag gets his midfield spot on as Red Devils bounce back

By Harry Edwards

Published: 22:22, 6 December 2023

Manchester United bounced back from their weekend defeat to Newcastle United with a well-deserved 2-1 win over Chelsea on Wednesday night.

Man Utd started really strongly and were well-worth their lead through Scott McTominay inside 20 minutes, having also seen Bruno Fernandes’ penalty saved. But the game went into half time level with Cole Palmer equalising for the visitors.

McTominay got his second of the match midway through the second half and that would be enough for Man Utd to win the match, moving the Red Devils up to sixth. Chelsea, meanwhile, remain 10th but are already in danger of falling away.

Here’s how the players rated at Old Trafford:


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Man Utd

Andre Onana – 6 – Produced a good save to deny Jackson in the first half but was well-beaten by Palmer’s placed finish. That was pretty much all he had to do.

Diogo Dalot – 7 – Got forward a lot, enjoying the space afford to him by Chelsea’s left-hand side. Defended well to prevent the ball from reaching Sterling in a Chelsea first-half attack.

Victor Lindelof – 6 – Nine times out of 10, the way Lindelof defended against Palmer would have been good enough to stop an opportunity. The goal wasn’t his fault at all, he did all that could be asked of him. Taken off at half time.

Harry Maguire – 7 – Named Premier League Player of the Month for November earlier in the day and he looked pretty comfortable, albeit not having too much defending to do.

Luke Shaw – 7 – Set up Hojlund’s early chance with a great pass through the defence. Slightly more reserved than his full-back partner in the first half, but did well. Moved to centre-back for the second half and helped to make Man Utd’s defence solid.

Scott McTominay – 8 – Looked good in midfield and scored the opening goal with a nice touch and finish inside the box under pressure from Colwill. Could have put Man Utd 2-0 up but his head and then rebound were saved by Sanchez. Did get his second with a great run at the back post to head home. His performance brought comparisons to former Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard who was, of course, known for his goals.

Patrice Evra told Amazon Prime Sport: “Well done to Scott. He had so many chances because he’s at the right place, he’s always running into the box. That’s why he reminds me a little bit of Lampard.”

Sofyan Amrabat – 8 – Gave ball away early on but did well to close Mudryk’s shooting option. Other than that he looked in control in midfield and kept his Cole Palmer under wraps pretty well. This was a statement performance for those who had already called an end to his Man Utd career following Kobbie Mainoo’s full league debut.

Antony – 7 – In for Rashford, won the penalty after cutting into a crowd, reward for what was a bad decision. Had a lot of space to stretch his legs and looked to test Colwill and Silva with his pace, though the final product was just missing.

Bruno Fernandes – 7 – Passed up the chance to open the scoring from the spot with what was a shocking penalty. Had more touches than any other Man Utd player in the first half and created three chances, but it still felt like he could have done more. Kept a level head in the second half as Man Utd needed someone to keep them calm when frustration at missed chances might have set in. Did exactly what he had to as a captain.

Alejandro Garnacho – 7 – Up against Cucurella, Garnacho had his moments, leaving the Spaniard looking lost at times. Livened up even more in the second half, feeling like he can influence the game. And he did exactly that with a teasing ball to the far post, setting up McTominay. This was a good performance.

Rasmus Hojlund – 5 – Had a good shot to test Sanchez and another effort blocked in the first half. But in the end it was another Premier League game without a goal for the Dane, who barely got involved in the second half. Left the pitch with 19 touches.

Substitutes:

Sergio Reguilon (for Lindelof 45) – 7 – Helped tighten Man Utd’s defence and produced a few good moments to keep the sheet clean in the second half.

Marcus Rashford (for Hojlund 84) – N/A – A late sub.

Jonny Evans (for Garnacho 90) – N/A – A late sub.

Chelsea

Robert Sanchez – 6 – Produced a few good saves in the first half including the double-stop on McTominay and denying Hojlund early on. Read Fernandes well for the penalty but couldn’t do anything about either goal. He did put Chelsea under pressure quite a few times with his passing, gifting the ball directly to Man Utd high up the pitch.

Marc Cucurella – 3 – Did not look comfortable defensively up against Garnacho, and was taken off at half-time.

Axel Disasi – 4 – Played like he didn’t know where he was supposed to be on the pitch, despite having high passing numbers. Part of a defence that looked lost.

Thiago Silva – 6 – Produced a great double block on Hojlund and Antony in the first half, and had to chip in to help Colwill. Perhaps the only defender who could hold his head high.

Levi Colwill – 4 – Captained Chelsea for the first time but was overrun on his flank, not helped by his winger. Weak against McTominay for the second goal, falling to ground far too easily. Not a good performance.

Moises Caicedo – 3 – Absolutely lost in midfield, having no control and was outplayed by his Man Utd counterparts. Didn’t look worth £10m let alone £100m.

Enzo Fernandez – 3 – For Fernandez, see Caicedo. Conceded the penalty for catching Antony’s foot inside box with a silly tackle as part of what was a poor start. And that poor start lasted 90 minutes, with Chelsea having no presence in midfield.

Raheem Sterling – 3 – Should have been booked for a dive in the first half and didn’t help Jackson on a quick break with a slightly awkward pass when they were two-on-one with Onana. Did not help defensively. His barren run against against Man Utd continues.

Cole Palmer – 6 – Wasn’t in the game at all and then he equalised with a very nice slow finish across the goal, well-placed into the bottom corner. His first goal from open play for Chelsea, he earned praise from Ian Wright who tweeted: “Cole Palmer’s finish way beyond his years. That’s just pure football knowledge and feel of where he is and what the keepers doing ! Look at the pace that ball went in at. Brilliant.” But that was pretty much all he could do to influence the game, pocketed by Amrabat.

Mykhailo Mudryk – 4 – Really wasteful in the first half, hitting the post with Chelsea’s first effort and breaking up a counter with a poor pass. Pulled into space well to receive the ball before setting up Palmer’s equaliser, but even that pass looked a little overcooked before Palmer took it under control. Offered very little in the second half.

Nicolas Jackson – 3 – Gave the ball away near his own area in the move that led to Man Utd’s opener. Had a shot saved by Onana on the break, but he really should have taken it first time. Offered nothing in the second half.

Substitutes:

Reece James (for Cucurella 45) – 6 – Was Chelsea’s best attacking threat in the second half but did have a few nervy defensive moments.

Armando Broja (for Mudryk 77) – 5 – Hit the bar from close range as the clock struck 90 but otherwise wasn’t too involved.

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