Below are five things learned from the Chelsea performance:
This was the moment Samuel Eto'o seized the Chelsea striker role
Not only did the Cameroonian score a hat trick in the game, proving he still possesses the goal scoring prowess he had previously exhibited, but rival Fernando Torres was ruled out for weeks according to Mourinho, meaning that Etoo is certain to be the preferred option for the Blues. Now that he is up to the pace of the Premier League, expect to see some truly impressive performances from the former Barcelona striker.
Willian once again underlined his appropriateness for Mourinho
Though the absence of Juan Mata continues to frustrate some Chelsea fans, Willian proved in this match that he possesses both the attacking threat alongside a fierce ability to chase loose balls and lost causes. The Brazilian has a tenacity lacking in Mata's game, and it is very much possible that he is already a more important player for Mourinho's Chelsea system than Oscar, who can be replaced by the Spaniard.
Does David Luiz lack the reliability needed of a defensive midfielder?
During the first half Mourinho was seen screaming at David Luiz to sit back in his defensive role, as United and Adnan Januzaj were having too much space in front of the Chelsea back four. David Luiz responded with a yellow card for an alleged elbow, as well as another couple of rough challenges that may have resulted in second bookings. With Nemanja Matic coming on for his second debut late on, the Portuguese may feel the Serb is a more disciplined and reliable option to play in front of his defence.
How far off Mourinho's title winning side is this present group?
After Chelsea won their fifth game in a row, beating United without having to hit top form, they continue to find themselves part of a trio of excellent Premier League pacesetters. But how close is this Chelsea team to Mourinho's title winners of old? Well they are lacking the form of a Frank Lampard in his pomp, as well as the defensive grit of old (in Mourinho's first season they condeded just 15 in 38 games - 5 less that they have already), but share similar striker problems as Didier Drogba failed to fire in his first season. In Eden Hazard they have a player arguably more complete than Arjen Robben was at that point in his career. In short, the Blues are some way off that title winning team, but every result like the United one brings them closer and closer.
Can Chelsea catch Arsenal?
Now just two points behind Arsenal and one behind Manchester City, Chelsea possess marginally better form than their London rivals, as well as the winning mentality currently absent in the Gunners squad. Catching them may hinge on results between the top few clubs, but with Chelsea set to host Arsenal in March, and having now played United twice, they may well just sneak ahead. Arsenal on the other hand are yet to travel to White Hart Lane as well as Stamford Bridge, Anfield and Goodison Park. Such fixtures may set them back and make the title a two horse race between the Blues of Manchester and London.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald