Five observations from Manchester United's draw with Chelsea

Fellaini United

Robin van Persie's late late leveller put a marker down for how far United have come since Van Gaal took over.

Marouane Fellaini may have finally proved himself

Despite being the fall guy for much of last season alongside his former Everton boss David Moyes, Fellaini built on his first goal for the club at West Brom last week by putting in a commanding performance in the heart of the midfield against Chelsea. Constantly breaking up play, as well as keeping Cesc Fabregas's influence on the game down to a minimum, the Belgian had arguably his best game for the club since he moved to Old Trafford. What's more, he provided a much needed physicality in the middle of the park against Nemanja Matic and later John Obi Mikel. All of a sudden looks well worth a place in the starting line up.

The team is becoming more settled 

Aside from a couple of enforced changes, this United side was much the same as started against West Brom last week. With Herrera out injured, Fellaini took his place once more, while Smalling replaced Jones, but other than that the team was the same. Of course, that is likely to change in the coming weeks as the likes of Rooney and Falcao come back into the picture, but what Van Gaal and United needed, after using so many players this season, was some stability in the team selection. This is especially important for the likes of Fellaini, Luke Shaw and Marcus Rojo, who have all suffered from difficult starts to their United career for one reason or another. 

Januzaj showed he's worth a starting place

The talented young forward looked to be struggling for game time until the recent match at West Brom, failing to start in all of his side's other fixtures. With his second 90 minutes in a town under Van Gaal, the Belgian may now feel like he has broken into the Dutchman's first team plans. Showed plenty of neat touches and looked dangerous whenever he got on the ball, that second wide spot isn't a foregone conclusion, and the 19-year-old outshone Mata in the race for it.

His late goal could be the making of Van Persie's season

Robin van Persie missed out on the fanfare that accompanied United's other strikers earlier this season. With Wayne Rooney being chosen as captain, and Falcao's headline grabbing arrival, the Dutchman failed to get off the mark until the 5-3 loss to Leicester. The nature of his last minute goal, however scrappy it was, ensures it is the former Arsenal star who will be making up the newspaper inches in the fallout from the game, and the way Van Persie celebrated showed just how much it meant to him.

Van Gaal proved that United are top four challengers, at the very least

The only other side to take a point off Jose Mourinho's Premier League pacesetters has been Manchester City, as good an indication as any that Van Gaal has already got United performing at a much higher level than earlier on in the season. They have now gone four games without defeat, and have negotiated arguably their toughest home fixture without adding to their two losses in the league, a figure only Chelsea and Arsenal can better. United have a couple of tough fixtures to come in the coming weeks, not least the Manchester derby on Sunday, but if they continue to show a determination to take at least a point from their games, Champions League football should be a real possibility.

 

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