Manchester United are within three points of fourth place after a crucial 2-0 win over rivals Chelsea on Monday. In a first half of little quality, United's Anthony Martial provided a rare moment of magic, heading home superbly on the stroke of half-time to hand the away side a 1-0 lead.
Chelsea came out strongly in the second half and had the ball in the net courtesy of Kurt Zouma, only for VAR to rule it out due to a push. That decision proved to be a crucial one, as just 10 minutes later Harry Maguire rose highest to head home from a corner and seal a vitally important win in the race for the top four.
As a defensive unit, United look like a side well-equipped to deal with most dangerous attacking units. Although Michy Batshuayi had a couple of opportunities, the away side were excellent at turning over possession while dominating the aerial duels. Additionally, Eric Bailly's triumphant return to the team will please Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to no end.
In the absence of Marcus Rashford, United often looked blunted going forward. With the travelling side reduced to sporadic counters, Daniel James and Anthony Martial were isolated for large spells. Thankfully for United, when Martial got a sniff at goal, he was clinical. That said, on another occasion, they could have easily left Stamford Bridge pointless and goalless.
Manager rating out of 10
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, 7 -- With few chances throughout the first half, it appeared that the United boss was too defensive in his tactical game plan. However, Martial's goal proved to be crucial, as it partly justified Solskjaer's decision to sit in deep and wait for Chelsea to make a mistake. Despite some nervy early moments, Bailly's inclusion proved to be an excellent selection call.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK David De Gea, 6 -- The Spanish stopper had little of note to deal with in the first period, as both sides struggled to create clear chances. The second half tested his handing ability, which didn't faze the 29-year-old much.
DF Eric Bailly, 8 -- The speedy defender recovered well from some early blunders to play a crucial role in United's victory. He made a handful of vital tackles and interceptions to stake his claim for a place in the side on a regular basis.
DF Harry Maguire, 9 -- Could have been dismissed in the first half for a brainless kick-out at Batshuayi after spilling off the pitch during a 50:50 challenge for the ball. He survived a VAR review and went on to star for United in the second half, rounding out a dominant display with a towering header to score his side's second goal of the game.
DF Luke Shaw, 7 -- Despite making his name as an attacking wing-back, Shaw appears to be thriving as part of a central back three. He can tackle well and boasts the ability to play out of defence, something he again demonstrated tonight.
MF Aaron Wan-Bissaka, 8 -- After half-an-hour, the former Palace man looked alarmingly off the pace. However, much like Bailly, he improved as the game wore on and ended the first half with a crucial assist, whipping in a sensational cross for Martial to guide home.
MF Fred, 7 -- This was a much improved display from the eternally frustrating midfielder. He was superb centrally in turning over possession, with the only real negative being his end product when in dangerous attacking areas.
MF Nemanja Matic, 6 -- A mixed display from the former Chelsea man, who was often wasteful in possession. That said, his work rate never wavered.
MF Brandon Williams, 6 -- A slightly underwhelming game for the Manchester-born left-back, who looked ill-at-ease to stop Willian in his tracks. Going forward, it was a similarly tough evening, with most of Williams' crosses missing their intended targets.
FW Bruno Fernandes, 7 -- United's big-money January signing was arguably their most creative player in the first half, combining well with the likes of Fred, despite the fractured nature of the game. He went on to clatter the post in the second half with an audacious free kick attempt.
FW Daniel James, 6 -- Cut a frustrated figure throughout, having to rely on scraps with little in the way of support. He was unsurprisingly replaced in the second half having failed to impact the game.
FW Anthony Martial, 8 -- Scored the vital opening goal against the run of play, beating Andres Christensen to the ball and picking out the far corner of the net with a divine guided header. Despite being isolated up front, the Frenchman didn't stop trying to manufacture scoring chances.
MF Andreas Pereira, NR -- Came on with 10 minutes remaining to replace the ineffective James.
FW Odion Ighalo, NR -- Given his debut in second-half stoppage time in place of Martial.
MF Diogo Dalot, NR -- Also saw out the final two minutes in place of Fernandes.