Four things learned: Chelsea v. Man United

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LONDON — Chelsea secured a dramatic late 2-2 draw against Manchester United, as Ross Barkley scored a 96th minute equalizer at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Maurizio Sarri‘s unbeaten record in charge of the Blues remains intact, while Jose Mourinho’s United side performed well but will be disappointed to let in a late goal which cost them their first win at Chelsea since 2012.

Sarri’s men took the lead through Antonio Rudiger‘s header but United struck twice through Anthony Martial‘s in a much-improved second half display from the Red Devils. Barkley then equalized as wild scenes on the touch saw one of Chelsea’s assistants, Marco Ianni

Here’s what we learned from a dramatic encounter in the sun in west London.


MARTIAL ISSUES TIMELY REMINDER

Anthony Martial scored twice to remind everyone of what he’s truly capable of. With his contract set to expire this summer (although United have an option to extend it for a further year) and talks not progressing, his agent will be waiting by the phone intently over the next few days. Martial’s clinical finishes reminded us of the teenager who burst onto the scenes in 2015 after United signed him from AS Monaco. That season he scored 17 times and he now has four in his first nine games of this campaign in all competitions. Martial is still just 22 years old and just as impressive as his cool finishes was his tracking back. That earned him a pat on the back and a warm embrace from Mourinho when he worked back on the left flank in the second half.


DEFENSIVE ERRORS CONTINUE TO HAMPER CHELSEA

It is something Maurizio Sarri has stressed time and time again since he took charge in July, but Chelsea do not seem to be improving defensively. With limited time to work with his squad on defensive shape they have instead focused of possessing the ball and getting the best out of Eden Hazard. That has worked well all season but without Olivier Giroud as the targetman they seemed to lose a cutting edge to their attacking play on Saturday with Alvaro Morata shackled and bullied by Chris Smalling. But it was a sense of panic in the box which saw Chelsea come unstuck, as they failed to clear on numerous occasions for United’s first goal and were then completely caught on the counter for the second.

As much as David Luiz and Antonio Rudiger are comfortable on the ball, they need to stop being turned around so easily as United’s powerful midfield ran at them time and time again in the second half. If Sarri’s Chelsea are to be serious title contenders this season in the Premier League, they need to shore things up defensively.


MOURINHO FIGHTS BACK WITH MORE BANS LIKELY

As Barkley equalized in the 96th minute to keep Chelsea’s unbeaten run intact, a member of Chelsea’s coaching staff, Marco Ianni, celebrated in Mourinho’s face and that of the United bench.

What came next was an huge melee as Mourinho stood up for himself and his team. It would be a shock of Ianni isn’t banned for this.

As Mourinho came off the pitch he then responded to jeers from Chelsea’s fans by reminding them how many titles he had won in charge of the Blues. Classic Jose.


POGBA REMAINS INFURIATING

The way Pogba threw his arms in the air and stamped his feet after Antonio Rudiger scored the opener for Chelsea told the whole story. Pogba lost Rudiger from the corner and he looked to be blaming Victor Lindelof as David Luiz blocked his run slightly. Instead of putting his hand up and taking responsibility for a lapse in concentration Pogba launched a tantrum a toddler would be proud of. In the second half Pogba was again at his infuriating best as he hurdled clear of two Chelsea challenges and was running at the heart of their defense. He then tried a clever flick which went straight to a Chelsea defender when an easy through ball to Marcus Rashford was on. It is a moments like this when you realize why Pogba must enrage Mourinho so much. Yet as the game opened up late on he got on the ball more and did cause problems with his slaloming runs but his passes were off. This was a display full of flaws from Pogba as he proved how infuriating he can be.

Hazard: Mourinho the one manager I want to play for again

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Eden Hazard is taking Chelsea supporters on a rollercoaster ride this international break.

[ MORE: Monaco hires Henry ]

What began with the latest in a long line of public flirtations with Real Madrid led to a bit of relief when the Belgian admitted he wouldn’t be leaving Chelsea in January.

So how does the Premier League’s leading scorer follow it up? By praising Chelsea’s two-time former manager and saying he’d like to play for him again.

Hazard says he apologized to Jose Mourinho for a string of poor performances that helped get the Portuguese boss fired from his post at Stamford Bridge.

Before we go any further, this is not part of a hit piece where Hazard bashes Maurizio Sarri for only being unbeaten and not perfect at Chelsea.

From Sky Sports:

“I don’t regret many things in my career, but that I have not been able to work with Mourinho at Chelsea anymore is one of them. We had a team that could win more trophies. We just ended up in a negative cycle.

“I sent him a message to say I was sorry he had gone and that I was sorry. We’d enjoyed all that success together, but this time we hadn’t. I felt a little bit guilty because I’d been player of the year. I’d been one of the most decisive players, and then I performed less.”

Hazard later said Mourinho isn’t as “extremely defensive” of a manager as his critics describe, while quipping that he isn’t “as adventurous as Pep Guardiola.”

That, my friends, is understated.

He’s not heading to Manchester United, we think, though a Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial for Hazard and David Luiz swap would be hysterical (and tell the Alexis Sanchez for Henrikh Mkhitaryan swap it’s so last season).

Perhaps it’s more likely Mourinho and Florentino Perez reignite their love-hate relationship at Real Madrid, and the club makes Hazard its next Galactico.

It is interesting that some stars, most recently Hazard and his Belgian teammate Romelu Lukaku, have Mourinho’s back, and that Zlatan Ibrahimovic is being linked with another stint at Manchester United.

Maybe big personalities simply have more sympathy for other big personalities or maybe being outside the blender makes the smoothie look more fun.

Or perhaps there’s more appreciation for Mourinho as the pool of experience grows for these players. Either way, Hazard sure knows how to keep his name in the news (and we’re neither accusing him of being disingenuous nor dishonest).

Sturridge nabs point for Liverpool at Chelsea

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  • WATCH: Hazard puts Blues ahead
  • Reds have more possession, shots
  • Kovacic with assist
  • Sturridge scores 50th LFC goal

Daniel Sturridge‘s amazing 89th minute goal helped Liverpool rescue a point against Chelsea in a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Eden Hazard scored for Chelsea in the first half, and Liverpool had chances cleared off the line by both Antonio Rudiger and David Luiz, once in each half.

Liverpool joins Man City on a league-best 19 points, two better than Chelsea

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Chelsea had wealth of possession in the first 20 minutes aside from a Roberto Firmino half-chance that went out for a Liverpool corner.

The best chance of the early throes deservedly went to Chelsea, with Alisson Becker racing off his line to thwart Willian‘s left-footed plan.

The Blues’ well-earned lead came when Hazard met a terrific ball from Mateo Kovacic and beat Alisson with a low left-footed shot.

The play began with Hazard deep in the midfield, working a quick exchange and then flying down field to meet Kovacic’s invitation.

Amazing work from Mohamed Salah nearly leveled the score line in the 32nd minute, as he out-battled David Luiz and Kepa Arrizabalaga only to see his sharp-angled effort cleared off the goal line by Antonio Rudiger.

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The break ended and Chelsea came out of the gate with energy, Willian especially dangerous down the left.

N'Golo Kante spied Hazard with a magnificent cross field pass, but the Belgian’s hopeful cross did not yield a proper shot on goal.

Arrizabalaga made an outstanding slap save on Mane in the 58th minute, leading to a series of corner kicks.

A quick restart gave Hazard a 1v1 with Becker, but the Belgian’s nutmeg effort caught the Brazilian’s dragged foot and popped over the bar.

Klopp removed Salah for Xherdan Shaqiri, and the Swiss attacker left David Luiz behind before missing a far post sitter of sorts.

But it was another sub who would find Liverpool’s goal, as Sturridge dipped an effort from distance over Arrizabalaga.

Top Premier League storylines for Week 7

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There’s potential for a major Top Four shakeup and maybe even a change in perception of title contention when the Premier League brings Week 7 to the forefront this weekend.

[ STREAM: Watch every PL match live ]


Can Chelsea beat Liverpool again, go top of Premier League?
Chelsea vs. Liverpool — 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBC STREAM ]

The Premier League season will near its one-fifth point after this weekend, and three teams could sit atop the table following six match days.

Two of those teams meet at Stamford Bridge four days after Chelsea came back to beat Liverpool 2-1 at Anfield in the League Cup.

Jurgen Klopp is winless in four against the Blues after winning two of his first three matches against Chelsea as Liverpool boss. Following wins at Stamford Bridge in his first two league visits, Liverpool fell 1-0 last season.

Both teams kept key players out of the Starting XI on Wednesday, though as the intensity of the match ramped up both managers injected some: N'Golo Kante, Roberto Firmino, Eden Hazard, Mohamed Salah, David Luiz, Jordan Henderson.

Yeah, they cared.

So will Liverpool get right back on track at the Bridge following its first setback of the season, or will it be staring down consecutive losses to the same opponent in under a week?

The Reds passed their first two tests of the season, beating Spurs and PSG. The next was a failure versus the Blues, but revenge would keep the PL season firing forward.

Manuel Pellegrini hopes to get another one over on Man Utd
West Ham United vs. Manchester United — 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN STREAM ]

West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini has had his fair share of success against Manchester United dating back to his time as the manager of Manchester City, posting a 3W-1D-2L record against the Red Devils.

A win on Saturday could rank right up there amongst his favorite conquests, and maybe even be a momentous moment in the tenure of Jose Mourinho at United.

Pellegrini’s 0-4 start to life at West Ham was well-documented, but the Irons beat Everton before drawing Chelsea last week with very different tactical deployments. An 8-0 throttling of Macclesfield Town in the League Cup now yields to this match, which could further endear Pellegrini to the West Ham support.

And if he doesn’t win? We bet they’d agree with Pellegrini that a draw is the next best thing.

United is coming off a 10-man loss to Derby County at home in the League Cup and a wealthy of rough headlines involving Mourinho and Paul Pogba. It’s a “rise up” moment for the Red Devils under Mourinho. They’ve done it plenty of times. Will they bail him out again?

Hornets hope to reclaim footing as Arsenal aims to pass them
Arsenal vs. Watford — 10 a.m. ET Saturday on Gold STREAM ] 

The Top Four race could be pretty cluttered after the weekend, and Arsenal’s ability to leapfrog Watford and sits fifth or better is one to watch closely. Javi Gracia‘s Hornets keep scoring, but have just one result from their last three matches in all competitions.

Try a free preview of the NBC Sports Gold pass this weekend.

Can Spurs avoid letdown without Eriksen?
Huddersfield Town vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 10 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN STREAM ]

There will be no Christian Eriksen again for Spurs, but Erik Lamela and Dele Alli have been in-form and firing. A visit to the John Smith’s Stadium isn’t a cakewalk, but the Terriers have been struggling and Spurs will be expected to walk over their Bottom Three opponents.

Clarets try to keep building momentum against desperate Bluebirds
Cardiff City vs. Burnley — 11 a.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN STREAM ]

The Bluebirds may not know what to make of Burnley, who struggled in both the Europa League and Premier League before breaking out for a 4-0 win over Bournemouth last week. Burnley rolled out a second-choice squad for the midweek League Cup loss to Burton Albion, but Cardiff will still be viewing this as a chance to pick up its first win of the PL season.

West Ham, Chelsea scoreless in London

AP Photo/Matt Dunham
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  • Chelsea no longer perfect
  • Blues have most of the ball…
  • But dangerous chances fairly even

Lukasz Fabianski made some solid saves including a terrific stoppage time stop on Ross Barkley, as West Ham United and Chelsea staged a 0-0 draw that betrayed its scoreline at the London Stadium on Sunday.

The draw is Chelsea’s first setback of the season, and leaves them in second. The Blues are two points behind Liverpool and level with Man City.

West Ham remains 17th with four points.

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Manuel Pellegrini‘s decision to counter led to some wide open chances for West Ham when the Irons managed to collect the ball, even without the injured Marko Arnautovic.

Felipe Anderson and Andriy Yarmolenko found plenty of joy on the wings, and West Ham challenged young Chelsea backstop Kepa Arrizabalaga more than once. Michail Antonio was a change of pace from Arnautovic but certainly up for the role of center forward.

Maurizio Sarri would’ve been frustrated with the lack of danger given his tactical decision to rest Eden Hazard, Mateo Kovacic, and David Luiz at midweek for this very reason. Aside from an N'Golo Kante header, there was little to worry Lukasz Fabianski.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Alvaro Morata subbed into the game and brought immediate life to the Blues attack, and also raised the question of whether the finish-lacking chance-monger is just snake bit when Fabianski made a terrific 67th minute save with his face.

David Luiz hit a free kick to Fabianski at one end, and Yarmolenko couldn’t get on the end of Robert Snodgrass‘ inviting cross at the other.

Barkley curled a pretty effort toward goal in stoppage time, but Fabianski got low to slap the effort wide of the frame.