Chelsea went winless for the fourth Premier League game on the bounce as they suffered a 2-0 defeat to Manchester United under controversial circumstances on Monday night.
Anthony Martial and Harry Maguire scored the goals for United in the first and second half respectively but the latter should probably have been sent off after just 21 minutes for what seemed an apparent kick out at Michy Batshuayi.
On either side of Maguire’s goal, the Blues were able to find the net through Kurt Zouma and Olivier Giroud but both goals were chalked off by VAR for a foul and an offside respectively.
As a result, Frank Lampard’s side ended the game in a disappointing fashion and they are now facing the threat of dropping out of the top-four with just one point separating them from Tottenham Hotspur, whom they host in the upcoming weekend.
Meanwhile, United have boosted their Champions League prospects with the victory and they are currently a couple of points behind fifth-placed Spurs, who are assured of the final Champions League berth following Manchester City’s two-year European competition ban.
Three things we learned:
VAR remains the topic of controversy: The Video Assistant Referee has contributed to several controversial decisions this term and one of them came during the opening half where Maguire escaped without a booking for his kick out at Batshuayi. A similar offence on Antonio Rudiger by Heung-min Son led to the latter’s sending off through VAR in December and that has led to suggestions that there is a lack of consistency in the decision-making. Chelsea have been on the right end of most VAR decisions this season but Maguire’s sending off could have turned the game in their favour.
Michy Batshuayi fails to impress: Batshuayi was handed with his first league start of the season for Chelsea after Tammy Abraham was ruled out with an ankle concern. However, he failed to make the most of the opportunity and was guilty of squandering a couple of solid chances to find the net. Olivier Giroud came in his place in the 67th minute and the Frenchman produced a much better showing. He scored with a superb diving header in the 76th minute but the goal was unfortunately chalked off by VAR for a marginal offside.
Chelsea’s Champions League hopes under threat: The Blues fared impressively during the first 12 games under Lampard where they registered 26 points. However, they have since accumulated just 15 points from the next 14 matches and that has definitely put them under pressure in the Champions League pursuit. There is only a three-point difference between them and seventh-placed Manchester United and a defeat to Spurs this weekend could see them relinquish their fourth spot for the first time since September. Even worse, they could drop up to seventh in the standings, if the other results go against them.