‘Late drama’ is both literal and metaphorical when it comes to summarizing the electric game Manchester United and Chelsea were involved in at Stamford Bridge. The final scoreline stood 2-2, with both sides holding extensive leads for periods of the game.
Chelsea’s came after Antonio Rudiger headed them ahead in the first half, while United’s confident run with Martial’s brace was cut short when Barkley shushed the Red Devils in the last minute of added time.
Here are the biggest talking points in a game that will go down as one of the most exciting ones this season, especially due to what went down at the end-
1. Sarri’s Style Is Impeccable
The Sarri effect is there for all to see. Chelsea has gone from a fumbling side that was overly reliant on its attackers to a passing haven.
Their first-half possession and passing was incredible to say the least, the numbers adding up and proving a marked difference from what was on show during Conte’s era. The Sarri ball was on display throughout the game, with Jorginho and Kante, in particular, dominating the field.
With this draw, the Blues have now taken their start-of-the-season unbeaten game streak to nine games strong. They’ve achieved this figure only twice in the past, both under Jose Mourinho, and on both occasions, the Premier League title was theirs for the taking.
2. Selection Dilemma
While the game can be best described as a match of two halves, the contrast is what sets both sides apart. While the Reds secured their composure in the second half, stringing together cohesive and frankly remarkable offensive runs, their backroom woes still accompanied them.
Simply put, the substitution styles of both gaffers set the tone brilliantly. Sarri’s changes were predictable, using the familiar dynamic of Barkley-Kovacic and Morata-Giroud.
In contrast, it is Mourinho’s lack of trust over the highly-paid Sanchez that is worrying. During the game, the period where United had to bring on their substitutions was one of confusion, Martial unhappy about being subbed off and Sanchez uneasy about not being started.
3. Martial Back For Good?
With 3 goals in 2 games, that too with a cumulative playing time of just over 90 minutes in that spell, Martial has proved why United did a good thing by not selling him in the summer. Besides, his opener was also the first sustained effort that United had in the game.
The French forward was the side’s unquestioned top performer, and had defensive stability not been absolutely crucial, Mourinho would have certainly stuck on with him on the pitch rather than sub Pereira on.
However, this could all bode well for the Frenchman, who could certainly garner more starts in the future. Add to this Mourinho’s apparent discontentment with Sanchez, and the young lad seems poised for great things at Old Trafford for quite a while more.
WATCH: How Mourinho Reacted After Martial’s Goal
4. Comeback Foiled
Mourinho was a sorry sight even before the celebration incident happened. The gaffer was desperate for a victory, and their 2-1 lead would have shot them right back into the top places, the perfect region to re-engineer any hope left for a title challenge.
Instead, akin to the manner in which they foiled Newcastle United’s plans last week, Barkley’s impressive late goal held the Red Devils back.
The players’ celebration of Martial’s second goal says how disappointed they’ll be with the eventual result. Further, this will be a strong loss of momentum for the manager, as a victory would have been the perfect start to a week that next sees them up against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus.
5. Classless Chelsea
Already rampant in England is Chelsea’s reputation for not being the most hospitable of fans. Their class has also been brought under question on numerous occasions in the past, turning their back on players and managers.
But after Saturday’s encounter, it seems all but confirmed that their lack of a care towards class and respect runs in the club DNA itself.
The manner in which their second assistant coach Marco Ianni celebrated in front of Mourinho, setting off the eventual brawl, is particularly insensitive when one thinks of how Mourinho expressly declared before the game that he’d be constrained in his celebrations should United score and/or win.
Sure enough, both of Martial’s goals, and even Barkley’s eventual equalizer was dealt with a poker face by Mourinho. This renders what went down, and the fans response chant of “Fuck off, Mourinho” to be further uncalled for.