In a frantic and well-contested clash, the Blues bounced back from a 3-0 defeat to Roma to maintain the nine point gap between themselves and Pep Guardiola’s side while also denting Jose Mourinho’s title ambitions.
Alvaro Morata’s brilliant second-half header was enough to secure all three points, with Antonio Conte’s decision to leave David Luiz out of the match-day squad vindicated by a clean sheet.
Ultimately, Manchester City can consider themselves the real winners from the result, as they extended their lead at the top of the table to eight points.
Tiemoue Bakayoko put in his best performance in a Chelsea shirt and he was a constant thorn in Manchester United’s side.
The £40million summer signing has been criticised by many since his switch from Monaco, but after the return of N’Golo Kante to Chelsea’s midfield, he seemed to really find his feet against Mourinho’s men.
His run for Morata’s goal was perfectly timed to drag Chris Smalling away and hand the Spaniard acres of space, while his display was generally action-packed.
If he improves his finishing, he’ll be a tough player for Premier League sides to stop.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan was a complete passenger throughout, offering little going forward and proving to be a liability defensively.
When he’s unable to get on the ball in the final third, it’s hard to see exactly what the Armenian offers to Mourinho’s side.
Unsurprisingly, Mourinho hooked him off just after the hour mark.
What surprised us?
Although reports had claimed David Luiz was set to be left out by Conte, it was still something of a shock to see him outside the match day squad.
With Antonio Rudiger also benched after an underwhelming performance in Rome and young Ethan Ampadu taking his place among the substitutes, Conte was clearly sending a message to his underperforming stars before a ball had even been kicked.
Whether Luiz can find his way back into the starting XI anytime soon, remains to be seen….
What didn’t surprise us?
While the major talking point before the game was Luiz’s absence, Kante’s return was just as important.
The Frenchman showed no signs of a lack of game time and dominated the midfield in the opening half an hour.
His return also freed up countryman Tiemoue Bakayoko, who was allowed to press further up the pitch and move into more advanced positions on the attack, which caused United problems trying to track his late surges.
It was Bakayoko’s run that allowed Morata to enjoy acres of space for Chelsea’s opener as the midfielder dragged Chris Smalling out of position.
Did the managers behave themselves?
Conte, as always spent the whole of the first half up on his feet, with Mourinho only rising to challenge certain decisions or issue instructions to his team.
The Italian tactician was given a talking to by Anthony Taylor just before the half-time whistle, as the former Juventus boss protested furiously at the referee’s decision to not give a yellow card to Antonio Valencia for a challenge on Eden Hazard.
Mourinho was in the fourth official’s ear as Marcos Alonso avoided a booking for a late challenge on Eric Bailly – just moments after Phil Jones and Ander Herrera had been booked for challenges on Hazard.
But on the whole, there was no real incident of note, although Conte will go home the happier man.