Chelsea and Tottenham now favourites in the hunt for Champions League qualification next season

David de Gea’s howler gave Chelsea the advantage in the race for the top four and UEFA Champions League football next season after a 1-1 draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford.

In a tense match between two nervous teams looking for that vital top 4 spot, United started out the brightest and took the lead through Juan Mata’s goal against his former club in the 11th minute with a close-range finish after a fine team move.

The hosts were on top for the majority of the first-half but Chelsea got a much-needed equaliser just before half-time (43) after a costly howler from the Spanish number one goalkeeper, spilling Antonio Rudiger’s 30-yard attempt for fellow Spaniard Marcos Alonso to level.

Marcos Alonso celebrating the crucial equaliser (Photo Source – @ChelseaFC)

Chelsea came out in the second half on the ascendancy and looked stronger than United throughout.

And Maurizio Sarri’s side should have ended up winning the game after Gonzalo Higuaín was denied a dramatic injury-time winner by De Gea.

Even though Chelsea came away from Old Trafford with a crucial point, they did suffer worrying injuries to Rudiger and Willian, whilst David Luiz struggled in the last twenty minutes with a knock.

The result means that with two games to play, Chelsea sit fourth, two points clear of Arsenal in fifth and three clear of United in sixth, with Watford at Home before going to Leicester City on the final day of the season.

Match Statistics

Possession (%) – Man Utd 52%, Chelsea 48%
Shots – Man Utd 7, Chelsea 16
Shots on Target – Man Utd 5, Chelsea 3
Corners – Man Utd 6, Chelsea 6
Fouls – Man Utd 9, Chelsea 14
Offsides – Man Utd 5, Chelsea 5
Yellow/Red Cards – Man Utd 3/0, Chelsea 2/0

(Bonus Stat) 50 – Kepa Arrizabalaga made his 50th appearance for Chelsea today.

Post-Match Thoughts

• Awful first-half, improved second-half.
• Equaliser woke us up, but not enough quality – lack of finishing – in the end to finish Utd off.
• Defending did improve after HT, but that’s not hard compared to the first-half.
• The officiating was an embarrassment.

Chelsea Player/Manager Ratings

Starting XI
Kepa – 7, His distribution at times was a bit dodgy but his composure in the box and handling throughout was a great benefit to the team.
Azpilicueta – 5, Had a decent second-half with his offensive overlapping and urge to help going forward. But his first-half was absolutely dire. Definitely not the same player anymore.
Rudiger – 5, Very poor in the first half. Was showing minor signs of improvement in the second until the recurrence of his injury from the Liverpool game. Potentially a season-ending injury.
David Luiz – 5, He does not deserve the potential contract extension, regardless of the possible transfer ban. Like a deer in headlights at times.
Alonso – 6, His much-needed equaliser saved his performance overall.
Kanté – 6, Clearly showed he was not 100% fit but did enough to show why he is a valuable asset to this team.
Jorginho – 7, Started off slowly but gave a hard-working display as his defensive attributes were needed more than this ball distribution today.
Kovačić – 6, Showed good work-rate and looked decent off the ball. However, the season-long trend of offering nothing going forward continued. Booked.
Willian – 5, Typical Willian performance. All that needs to be said to be honest. Booked.
Higuaín – 5, Barely any service in the first-half, but his overall finishing today was poor.
Hazard – 7, MOTM. Once again… the player that gave us hope to getting something out of today’s game.

Substitutions
Christensen (66′ for Rudiger) – 6
Loftus-Cheek (75′ for Kovačić) – 5
Pedro (84′ for Willian) – 7 (Just for the goal-line clearance alone!)

Manager
Maurizio Sarri – 7, Picked the best possible team he could choose from due to injuries/illness/etc and thankfully the players did enough in the end to justify it. Seriously cannot be blamed for today, surely?

Terry Sazio

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