Jose Mourinho’s return to Stamford Bridge couldn’t have possibly gone any worse than it did on Sunday. Manchester United went down within 30 seconds and never recovered, with Chelsea building on their early lead as the game went on and running out 4-0 winners.
Pedro netted the opener off the simplest of attacks. From the right wing, he made a run between Daley Blind and Chris Smalling, which Marcos Alonso spotted. The Blues’ left wingback played an impressive ball over the top that Blind and Smalling couldn’t deal with, and their poor defending was made worse by David de Gea unnecessarily coming off his line. Pedro went around him and passed the ball into the back of the net.
United responded strongly and was on top for the next few minutes, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic nearly scoring from a header just before the 10-minute mark. But Chelsea took full control of the match in the 21st minute, when Gary Cahill scored on a corner. Eden Hazard’s ball in took a couple of deflections that Cahill anticipated well, leaving him unmarked when he finished from six yards.
Mourinho appeared to motivate his men well to start the second half, but when they couldn’t score early, they started getting desperate, and eventually they came unhinged at the back. Hazard sealed the three points in the 62nd minute when he picked up a pass from Branislav Ivanovic at the edge of the penalty box, then created some space for himself to place a right-footed shot past de Gea.
N’Golo Kante completed the embarrassment for the Red Devils in the 70th minute, juking Smalling out of his shoes before scoring off a nice flicked pass by Pedro.
Chelsea: Courtois, Cahill, Luiz, Azpilicueta, Alonso, Kante, Matic, Moses, Hazard (Willian 78′), Pedro (Chalobah 71′), Diego Costa (Batshuayi 78′)
Goals: Pedro (1′), Cahill (21′), Hazard (62′), Kante (70′)
Manchester United: De Gea, Blind, Smalling, Bailly (Rojo 52′), Valencia, Herrera, Fellaini (Mata 46′), Rashford, Pogba, Lingard (Martial 65′), Ibrahimovic
Someone give Chris Smalling a hug — This was a team embarrassment for United, without a doubt. No one played well, and no one is without blame. But one player was at least partially at fault for all four goals, and that was Smalling. And on the final two goals, he was juked by the eventual goal-scorer. Of everyone on the pitch for the Red Devils, he’s the one who could have his confidence most shaken by this.
N’Golo Kante is a monster — Besides his excellent goal, Kante was nearly flawless in possession, kept United from being effective on the break with his presence in ways that won’t show up on the box score, and he was pretty great on the box score when he was forced to make a play. Kante finished the match with five interceptions and five tackles won.
Jose Mourinho’s got a lot of thinking to do — So far this season, some of Mourinho’s decisions have been baffling. Why did Wayne Rooney get so many chances early on? Does he really think Marouane Fellaini is his best option in the center? Does he really think Daley Blind is his best left back? Does he not rate Anthony Martial? Where is Henrikh Mkhitaryan? It’s not just the results, it’s that it’s tough to justify his choices. And one year after his meltdown at Chelsea, he doesn’t get the same benefit of the doubt that he once did.