The numbers support the view that Chelsea being reduced to nine men severely altered the direction of Sunday’s game.
Until the sending off of Fernando Torres three-quarters of the way through the contest, it was the Blues that had been running the show, fighting back from the early setback of going two goals down to draw level and run the game.
However after the sending off it was a question of chasing the ball as United assumed control and dominated possession.
Chelsea took 16 shots to Manchester United’s 15 across the 90 minutes, and won 8-5 in terms of attempts on target. However, only one of these came after Torres’s red card, whereas United took eight from that point on and only seven beforehand.
With six attempts, Robin van Persie had more than any other, and repeated his feat of coming to SW6 and leaving with at least one goal and all three points, as he did after hitting a hat-trick for Arsenal a year ago this weekend. The Dutchman also drew four fouls, more than any other player, as Chelsea struggled to get to grips with his movement, touch and strength.
It is rare these days that Chelsea take less than half the possession, but on Sunday it was 48.7 per cent. However, our passing statistics drop off following the Torres red, while United’s improve dramatically.
Overall we completed 82 per cent of our passes, United 86. But before the second red, we had completed 299/358, or 83.5 per cent, which dropped to 73.4 per cent (47/64) in the final 23 minutes.
With space in which to play, United’s passing in that late period hit 94.9 per cent, with 184/194 finding their man, as opposed to the 220/273 (80.6 per cent) before Torres’s dismissal.
John Mikel Obi was our best passer, completing 47 of 54 passes, while Juan Mata found his man 16 of 19 times in the final third.
Ramires did not misplace a pass in the first half, whereas United’s central midfielders, Michael Carrick and Tom Cleverley, had only 74 per cent and 65 per cent success rates in that same period.
The in-form Mata also created five goalscoring chances for his team-mates, more than anyone else on the pitch, but none of them were taken. His seventh goal of the season was struck in a hot streak of seven games.
Statistics show Ramires won five out of six tackles on Sunday, but committed five fouls. Jonny Evans, the numbers tell us, won six out of six tackles and did not commit a foul.
That last statistic is key. Had Evans been rightly penalised for bringing Torres down with 23 minutes remaining, this article would most likely look very different indeed.