Defending champions Chelsea eked out an impressive 1-0 win over Manchester United on Sunday night to keep themselves in the Premier League title race and there were plenty of talking points from the clash at Stamford Bridge.
The Statesman has picked the five most pressing ones for you:
David Luiz’s Chelsea future in doubt
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, in his pre-match interview with Sky Sports simply stated that he dropped David Luiz for Sunday’s clash because of ‘tactical reasons’.
Sure, after a disastrous midweek loss to Roma in the UEFA Champions League, somebody was going to be be made an example of but Conte’s explanation seemed a bit flimsy even to the casual observer.
It must be noted that not only did Conte remove Luiz from the starting XI, but also from the match day squad in entirety.
A manager doesn’t do that unless there is trouble brewing.
Andreas Christensen came in for the Brazilian and had a decent game to vindicate his manager’s decision to show faith in youth.
Cue to the post-match interview, also with Sky Sports, and Conte was suddenly far more revealing as he said, “I don’t know whether Luiz has a future or not. He has to train hard like the rest and then we will see”.
Are we going to witness another saga that has shades of Diego Costa?
Blues fans will hope the international break sees the simmering tempers cool down for Luiz remains an integral part of the Chelsea squad and he’s still got plenty of football left in him.
Did Alvaro Morata really foul Phil Jones?
Chelsea seemingly took the lead in the 6th minute when United defender Phil Jones put the ball into his own net after pressure from striker Alvaro Morata.
However, referee Anthony Taylor felt that the Spaniard has shoved the Englishman in the back and hence, the goal was deemed to be illegal.
While replays suggested Morata did put his hand on Jones, the contact was minimal and had the incident happened anywhere else on the pitch, it’s likely no free-kick would have been awarded for United.
The English top-flight has moved away from the bruising style that used to be employed in the 80s and the 90s, but the officials decisions to over-protect players, especially inside the box, does infuriate at times.
United didn’t park the bus…
After a bore draw against Liverpool, United were slated for their lack of endeavour and rightly so.
A team of their calibre (and gargantuan wage bill) shouldn’t employ overtly-defensive tactics each time they play a direct rival and perhaps due to Manchester City’s triumph over Arsenal earlier on Sunday, the Red Devils actually made a strong start at Stamford Bridge.
Marcus Rashford and Romelu Lukaku had genuine goalscoring opportunities and while Chelsea eventually wrested the initiative, the Red Devils showed some verve.
Of course, Chelsea still won the possession battle and had the majority of the chances but keep in mind United were playing away from home at a venue where they haven’t enjoyed much success in the past.
While it was all for nought, their mostly-positive approach did make the tie an interesting one and it was a far cry from the snoozefest at Anfield not so long ago.
And Chelsea make them pay via their No.9
Both Chelsea and United couldn’t afford a draw, especially with City opening up an eight-point lead at the top of the Premier League table with a routine win over Arsenal.
So, with United showing some endeavour, they were bound to have some cracks in midfield and defence and Chelsea took advantage of these gaps when Morata headed home what turned out to be the winner in the 55th minute.
Conceding a goal at Stamford Bridge is not the worst result, but had Morata and co. been more clinical, the margin of the defeat could have been much greater.
United’s defence has won rave reviews after racking up clean sheets one after the other, but with the Red Devils effectively chasing City from now on out, will they still be able to maintain their impressive defensive record?
The international break perhaps comes at the ideal time for Jose Mourinho’s men as they can now regroup and perhaps come up with a system that allows them flexibility in attack without sacrificing their defensive solidity.
Title-race over in November?
An eight-point lead in November?
Well, Pep Guardiola’s barnstorming Manchester City have all the makings of a special side and they deserve their place at the top of the summit.
So with just 11 games played, have City effectively run away with the league title already?
Six-pointers with derby rivals Manchester United and the vibrant Tottenham Hotspur still have to be played, so there’s hope for the rest of the chasing pack, but at this point, it’s difficult to see anyone hauling the Citizens back.
United midfielder Ander Herrera, in his post-match interview with Sky Sports, had a spiky response when asked whether he thought City are running away with the league title: “I never heard of anyone winning the league title in November. Eight points is eight points. In the course of the long season we have, it isn’t much. We will see.”
Only time will tell whether the Sky Blues will suffer a collapse for the ages or continue their blistering form to another Premier League title.