Ander Herrera

Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images

WATCH LIVE: Manchester United vs. Newcastle United

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Paul Pogba returns for Manchester United, who welcomes Newcastle United to Old Trafford on Saturday (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Zlatan Ibrahimovic makes the bench for the Red Devils, which also has Ander Herrera and Jesse Lingard as options.

Rafa Benitez will look to best his old nemesis with Dwight Gayle and Joselu up top.

LINEUPS

Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Lindelof, Smalling, Young, Matic, Pogba, Mata, Rashford, Martial, Lukaku. Subs: Romero, Rojo, Shaw, Fellaini, Herrera, Lingard, Ibrahimovic.

Newcastle United: Elliot; Yedlin, Lejeune, Clark, Manquillo; Ritchie, Hayden, Shelvey, Murphy; Gayle, Joselu. Subs: Darlow, Gamez, Mbemba, Diame, Aarons, Perez, Mitrovic.

Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United: Blues superb in win

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  • Chelsea out-attempts Utd 18-10
  • Morata heads home winner
  • Jones o.g. called back for foul

Alvaro Morata led Chelsea to a controlling 1-0 win over Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

It was Morata’s eighth Chelsea goal, and the fifth to come courtesy of a Cesar Azpiliecueta assist.

Chelsea stays fourth with 22 points, one behind Spurs and United and nine behind Man City.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Chelsea believed it had a 1-0 lead, but only for a moment, when Alvaro Morata shoved Phil Jones into a cross for what would’ve been an own goal. Jones went down rather easily, but focus is magnified inside the box.

At the other end, Marcus Rashford mistimed his leap to meet a fine cross from Ashley Young, popping the ball over the frame.

Blue-haired Tiemoue Bakayoko missed a solid chance when Davide Zappacosta‘s cross eluded three players to find him at the back post. He took another chance moments later, deflected out for a corner kick.

Then…

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

A testy first half continued into the second half, as Ander Herrera stamped on Eden Hazard‘s foot after the Belgian cut past him.

De Gea caught a Hazard rip that had vicious pace but improper aim.

That’s when Morata put Chelsea ahead running between Eric Bailly and Chris Smalling to head a beautiful Azpilicueta cross past a helpless De Gea.

Morata took a superfluous touch after Cesc Fabregas dispossessed sub Marouane Fellaini, missing a chance to try for a brace in the 65th.

Bakayoko stripped Fellaini and hit a right footed effort wide of the goal in the 75th minute. De Gea stopped Hazard moments later.

Thibaut Courtois made a fantastic save on Fellaini in the 90th minute, getting horizontal to slap away his header.

Three things we learned from Chelsea v Man United

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LONDON — Chelsea beat Manchester United 1-0 at Stamford Bridge on Sunday as the Blues breathed new life into their Premier League campaign.

[ MORE: Rivalry renewed – Conte v Mourinho ]

Alvaro Morata’s second half header was enough to beat Jose Mourinho’s men with United starting the game well but then pinned back by Chelsea after the opening 30 minutes.

The win sees Chelsea move just one point behind second-place United heading into the international break, while Manchester City’s lead at the top of the table has now been increased to eight points.

Here’s what we learned from a lively encounter in west London.


MORATA A MENACE

Even though he was adjudged to have fouled Phil Jones early on as the United center back shanked a clearance into his own net to score a spectacular own goal, Alvaro Morata had set the tone early.

The Spaniard was a menace for United’s defense all afternoon.

After his comments during the week to the Italian media which seemed to suggest he wasn’t enjoying life in London, Morata needed a big display. He delivered.

Morata’s towering header from Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross — the fifth time he and his countryman have linked up this season for a goal and an assist — won the game for Chelsea to lift some of the growing gloom around Antonio Conte‘s side following their 3-0 shellacking at AS Roma on Tuesday in the Champions League.

Morata had missed chances at Roma and at Bournemouth in recent weeks but despite his wastefulness he has eight goals in 15 games for Chelsea. Not a bad ratio for a striker still adjusting to life in the PL.

More impressive than his goal was Morata’s ability to bully United’s defense. In the first half he charged into Jones with a good old fashioned shoulder barge and sent the bustling United center back to the ground.

At times this season Morata’s inability to mix it up in the Premier League has been questioned. As a direct replacement for Diego Costa (a man who “mixed it up” for a living) Morata was said to be soft. On Sunday he was not with the only blot on his copybook getting it all wrong as he raced in on goal in stoppage time when he only had David De Gea to beat.


UNITED TOO CONCERNED WITH CHELSEA

Eden Hazard was a marked man on Sunday with Phil Jones, Ander Herrera and Eric Bailly rotating the man-marking job on Chelsea’s playmaker.

Despite early promise where Romelu Lukaku had a smart turn and shot saved and then Marcus Rashford nodded just over, United were never in the game after the opening 30 minutes. Don’t let the scoreline fool you.

Mourinho was ushering Bailly to step high on Hazard when United had the ball in Chelsea’s half from the very first whistle.

Once again, in a big game, United’s approach was too defensive and this time they didn’t get the result they wanted.

After a 0-0 draw at Liverpool and a 1-0 win against Tottenham Hotspur, Mourinho’s defensive masterclass didn’t work against Chelsea.

Maybe if he focused more on getting the ball to Lukaku and Rashford and involving Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the game they’d have forced the issue more than they did. Lukaku was a spectator for most of this game and will no doubt receive plenty of criticism for once again not delivering in a big game against a top six side, but he had little to no service.

Then again, this was a Mourinho team set up to play away from home in a defensive formation with Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia at wing back, three center backs and two holding midfielders. What else did we expect?


KANTE CONTINUES TO MAKE CHELSEA TICK

The last month has been a long one for Chelsea. That’s because they’ve been without N'Golo Kante.

In the six games Chelsea were without Kante in October, they only kept one clean sheet.

Kante, the reigning PFA Player of the Year, returned from a hamstring injury on Sunday and dominated midfield. The French international was everywhere, snapping at the heels of Lukaku and Rashford whenever they dropped back and stepping into defensive gaps when Gary Cahill or Azpilicueta surged forward.

He also kept Nemanja Matic (who has been a pivotal figure for United since he transfer from Chelsea in the summer) quiet as the diminutive Frenchman dominated in midfield.

We all know how important Kante is but his first lengthy injury spell of the last two seasons since he arrived in the PL proved it.

Chelsea are a completely different team with Kante in midfield and their defensive solidity is down to him. No one player makes a team but one player can make a heck of a difference. See: Kante, N’Golo.

Three things we learned from Man United v. Tottenham

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Manchester United beat Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 on Saturday as Jose Mourinho’s men silenced plenty of their critics.

[ RECAP: United beat Spurs 1-0 ]

Mauricio Pochettino and Spurs missed Harry Kane horribly but still had chances to win the game in the rain in Manchester.

Here’s what we learned from a tight, tense encounter at Old Trafford.


LUKAKU PUTS BIG GAME RECORD BEHIND HIM

Romelu Lukaku has now scored just 15 goals in 59 appearances against the so-called “big six” in the Premier League and he was well-shackled by Spurs defense on Saturday, but he did make a big difference. In the end.

There were moans and groans around Old Trafford on a few occasions where Lukaku failed to control the ball or made the wrong run or didn’t envisage a ball from his teammates. There were also a few boos when Marcus Rashford was taken off in the second half as he looked much more likely to hurt Tottenham and get on the scoresheet than his strike partner as Mourinho went with two up top.

It took until the 73rd minute for Lukaku to get a real sight of goal as he beared down on Jan Verongthen and drilled a shot across goal which Hugo Lloris palmed away. He then went even closer late on as he sent Jesse Lingard‘s cross against the foot of the post with a towering header.

Finally, Lukaku had woken up. His flicked header to Martial for the game-winner proved he stuck with it despite not getting any luck in front of goal and for the second-game running in the PL he had an assist.

We make a lot about Lukaku’s lack of goals in the big games but remember, he played for Everton and West Brom in the PL for most of his appearances against the big boys. He will get more chances to score now he’s at United but he’s showing that he can deliver in key moments even if he’s not hitting the back of the net.


KANE’S ABSENCE BLUNTS SPURS

Harry Kane is the hottest striker on the planet right now, so of course Tottenham missed him.

Kane’s hamstring strain kept him out of the game at Old Trafford and the Premier League’s leading scorer doesn’t only offer goals but also a figurehead to Spurs’ attack.

After a sluggish start Spurs recovered well in the first half with Heung-Min Son and Dele Alli making runs in-behind but so often the ball was not sticking up top and that forced Mauricio Pochettino to bring on Fernando Llorente in the second half.

Kane may be fit enough to play against Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday and when he returns Tottenham’s attack will look totally different. Spurs coped well without their talisman for vast swathes of their defeat at United with Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen both having one big chance.

If Kane would’ve been fit enough to play, you have to wonder how different this game would’ve been as his presence on the pitch would surely have given Tottenham more belief that they could win the game.


3-5-2 WORKED FOR UNITED

During preseason I caught up with Man United’s Dutch defender Daley Blind and he told me that Mourinho had been working on the 3-5-2 formation a lot at their training camp in Los Angeles.

All of that work was for a moment like this.

With no Kane in the lineup for Spurs, Mourinho wanted to get on top of Heung-min Son and Dele Alli whenever he could and stop Spurs from playing out of the back with Lukaku and Rashford up top. It worked very well early on, but then Spurs figured it out and had a little more composure on the ball and United were outnumbered in midfield.

In the second half Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera were pressing high and snapping into tackles and stopped Tottenham from dictating the tempo.

Mourinho’s men may not play with this formation each and every week but with solid veterans Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young at full back, United looked like a solid outfit and Lingard and Martial made a huge difference off the bench.

Premier League Preview: Man Utd v. Spurs

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  • Man Utd leads all-time 87W-49D-50L
  • Kane out for Spurs
  • Homes have won five-straight in series

A match for sole possession of second place in the Premier League table pits Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday (Watch live at 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Both sides are coming off losses, Spurs in a stunning League Cup capitulation to West Ham and United at Huddersfield Town (The Red Devils did win midweek in the League Cup).

[ LIVE: Stream Premier League games ]

Adding insult to injury, or injury to injury, is a hamstring injury for Harry Kane. Spurs’ star striker had 13 goals in 12 matches between the Premier League and Champions League, and puts Fernando Llorente in focus. The ex-Swans striker is yet to score this season.

Spurs and United trail Man City by five points for the Premier League lead, with the table-toppers off to West Brom on Saturday. A loser of Saturday’s match at Old Trafford would sit third, as both clubs have four-point advantages on Chelsea and Arsenal.

What they’re saying

Man Utd’s Ander Herrera on the task at hand“Tottenham are a direct rival every season. In the last two or three years they have improved a lot and they are contenders for everything; the Champions League, the Premier League and for both cups. They are very organised, they play really good football and they have players who can score… even their fullbacks are very offensive. It will be a big statement if we beat them.”

Pochettino on Spurs without Kane“Last season in the period he was injured you can see the stats, win or lose with Harry, win or lose without Harry. I’m not happy, I’m disappointed, because Harry is our main striker, he’s one of the best players not just in Tottenham, in Europe, in the world. Always you are going to miss your best striker. I’m not silly or stupid to talk in a different way, but that is football.”

Prediction

Perhaps more important than Kane’s absence is how it changes Jose Mourinho’s plans to handle Spurs. Is the talisman’s absence enough to move Mourinho more offensive against a wildly talented attack with Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen? We think so, in some capacity, and we also think the missing Kane tilts the scales toward the Old Trafford set. United 2-0 through Romelu Lukaku.

Follow @NicholasMendola