Jones is no match for Luiz in a midfield role
Both teams drafted centre-backs into midfield but while David Luiz has the skill and experience to make the transition, Phil Jones had a slightly harder afternoon. Although he did make Javier Hernandez’s consolation goal, he was a lonely bystander, in attack and defence.
Chelsea’s first goal started with Samuel Eto’o skipping away from Jones on the edge of the box, the second after Jones thoughtlessly gave away a free-kick by fouling Willian. In mitigation, this was Jones’s first game back after four weeks out, and away at Chelsea. The fact that United had to turn to him in central midfield is their real problem.
At 18, Januzaj is United’s best attacking player
Among all the mediocrity and predictably on show from United, Adnan Januzaj once again stood out, far superior to all of his older, more experienced team-mates. Almost everything good that United did came from the 18-year-old, drifting behind their lone striker Danny Welbeck.
Januzaj was brilliant at finding space, producing two perfect crosses from the left, the second of which Welbeck should have converted. He will need Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie to return to the team to have his creativity fully rewarded. For now he has to cope with the heavy weight of being Manchester United’s best attacking player.
Thrilling Willian is just the direct threat Mourinho likes
Willian might not be quite as graceful or subtle as Juan Mata, but he is making it increasingly clear why he is the right man for Jose Mourinho’s new Chelsea team. Willian does not control or dictate the game like Mata but – like Eden Hazard on the other wing – he is a thrilling counter-attacker, able to tear through defences.
On Sunday he was a menace, bursting forward whenever in possession, skipping past Jones and Rafael more than once. That type of direct threat can unsettle any opposition, and is how Mourinho wants to construct his side.
Chelsea 3 Manchester United 1 player ratings
Chelsea 3 Manchester United 1 player ratings
1/22 Petr Cech 6/10
Stopped efforts from Young and Welbeck but little to do as United struggled. Troubled more by his own footwork before Hernandez consolation
2/22 Branislav Ivanovic 6/10
Wasted chance after good work from Ramires on return from three weeks out. Untroubled defensively for long spells but lost Hernandez for goal
3/22 Gary Cahill 7/10
Calm head in opposing area allowed the centre-back to square for Eto’o second on stroke of half-time. Header led to Chelsea’s third as well
4/22 John Terry 6/10
The former England captain enjoyed one of quieter games against Manchester United as the champions failed to create until the game was over
5/22 Cesar Azpilicueta 6/10
Quick to sense danger as Welbeck prepared to shoot before break, pressurising him with tackle. Got forward when he could - which was often
6/22 Ramires 7/10
Brazilian enforcer was quick to snuff out danger from United midfield and provided platform for attacking team-mates to cause damage further upfield
7/22 David Luiz 6/10
First in the book after scything down Valencia before being chastised by his manager for positional inaccuracies. Held ground with authority
8/22 Willian 6/10
Surprise starter and gave the ball away in opening quarter before settling into rhythm. Caused United problems with his strong running
9/22 Oscar 6/10
Shot wide as Chelsea found their feet following a slow start. Wrongly chose to scissor-kick when could have headed in. Taken off for Mikel
10/22 Eden Hazard 7/10
Quiet beginning for the in-form Belgian playmaker but began to cut in from the left wing at will as Chelsea turned the screw and won at a canter
11/22 Samuel Eto'o 7/10
Speculative shot looped in for opener before making the most of poor United defending to double his Premier League tally in a single afternoon
12/22 David De Gea 5/10
Could do little with Eto’o’s first but the Spaniard should be disappointed with his efforts for the Cameroon forward’s second and third strikes
13/22 Rafael 5/10
Not enjoying best season and struggled to cope with pace and intensity. Completely switched off for Eto’o’s second and lucky to stay on after Cahill challenge
14/22 Jonny Evans 5/10
Cut out Hazard cross in opening quarter but unable to offer much resistence thereafter. Will never be an able replacement for Rio Ferdinand
15/22 Nemanja Vidic 5/10
Left dawdling as he played everyone onside for Eto’o’s second. Poor afternoon capped as mindless lunge on Hazard rightfully saw him dismissed
16/22 Patrice Evra 6/10
Found the side netting with early foray forward but effect on game waned. Given the runaround by Chelsea’s incisive passing and movement
17/22 Phil Jones 5/10
First appearance for a month and it showed. Slow to close down Eto’o for Chelsea’s opener before a typically robust challenge on Luiz
18/22 Michael Carrick 6/10
Unwittingly forced Eto’o shot up over De Gea. Stuck to task well but not the personality United needed against a Chelsea side right in their groove
19/22 Antonio Valencia 6/10
Eager to make an impression in the opening minutes but strong challenges from Luiz and Ramires appeared to scare him out of the game
20/22 Adnan Januzaj 7/10
Multi-nationalist caused problems for home defence with his tricky footwork and wingplay and was United’s best chance of creating anything of note
21/22 Ashley Young 6/10
Returned from shoulder injury and caused problems early on. Needless booking for pulling back Ramires after ceding possession. Quiet after break
22/22 Danny Welbeck 6/10
Came into match on form and linked up well with Young but just does not offer the threat of Rooney or Van Persie. Slow to get shot away in first half
Vidic couldn’t keep up with Eto’o – in 2009 or now
The last time Nemanja Vidic and Samuel Eto’o met was nearly five years ago, in Rome. That night Eto’o skipped past Vidic to put Barcelona 1-0 up in the Champions League final. Last night was not much more enjoyable for Vidic, one of his worst games in years.
He could not keep up with Eto’o or Hazard and the collective defending – his responsibility as captain – was dismal, Eto’o free to score the second and third. The tackle on Hazard for which Vidic was sent off was a picture of tiredness and frustration. Poor as he was, though, his being suspended is worse for United.
United under Moyes lack Fergie’s comeback power
Almost exactly two years ago, Chelsea went 3-0 up early in the second half at Stamford Bridge, only for Manchester United to surge back into the game and draw 3-3. Eight of the players who started for United that day started on Sunday, but the big change has obviously been off the pitch.
United, in the post-Ferguson era, do not have the same reserves of courage and belief that helped them to come from behind as well as they used to do.
Even when Javier Hernandez scored last night, it only ever felt like a futile consolation.