David de Gea: 8
Let's talk about that save, shall we? In particular, let's talk about David de Gea's left hand, which shoots up and to the left as he advances towards the ball. That's ... odd, right? Odd enough that, unless De Gea's developing some kind of weird nervous tic, it must have been deliberate. Does it perhaps make that side of the goal look, to the attacker, less appealing than the other side? Does it then make it more likely that the shot will go to that other side, giving De Gea the advantage of knowing what's about to happen and so a crucial split second extra time to make the dive? If he meant it, it worked; if he didn't mean it, then guessing did. Top save, either way.
Obviously Chelsea scored from the resulting corner, because being a goalkeeper sucks.
Given a yellow card after 12 minutes for pulling Eden Hazard back by both shoulders, the whole world knew what was coming next. Rafael's stupid first booking was in the bank; his stupid second booking was only a matter of time. That he didn't get sent off is, in its own way, far more impressive than any of the decent defending and enthusiastic overlapping that followed. We knew he could do all that stuff. We didn't know that he could avoid being a complete buffoon.
Incidentally, Rafael was marking Didier Drogba at the corner because Chelsea have loads of really tall players — John Terry, Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill, Didier Drogba and even Nemanja Matic — and United don't. Chris Smalling can't mark everybody.
Chris Smalling: 7
Speaking of whom, this was Chris Smalling's best game in a United shirt for a very, very long time. Though he started a little shakily — and could have conceded a penalty after choke-slamming Ivanovic to the ground — he grew into the game, and while the absence of Diego Costa came as a blessing, by the end of the game he was playing with poise an assurance. Significantly more reliable than his partner, Smalling even managed to look, at times, like a footballer, moving the ball across the backline with some measure of reliability. With Phil Jones once again injured and out for an unspecified length of time, Smalling will have the opportunity to build on this performance over the next few weeks. For everybody's sake, he needs to.
Marcos Rojo: 5
Not least for Marcos Rojo's sake. Physically, Rojo is everything a centre-back should be: tall and strong, lithe and quick. He also seems to be pretty good at football into the bargain. But against West Bromwich Albion last Monday night and against Chelsea yesterday, he's looked worryingly vulnerable to a sudden brainfade, displaying a fine collection of misjudged headers and sliced clearances. Fortunately, Chelsea were unable to capitalise, but Sergio Aguero is coming up next.
Luke Shaw: 7
Tidy enough at the back, encouraging going forward, this was Shaw's best United performance so far. His link up work with Adnan Januzaj during the first half suggests that he's a full-back who prefers to play with an out-and-out winger ahead of him
Daley Blind: 6
Tidy enough in possession, but did little to address the lingering suspicion that he can be bullied by a midfield of above-average dynamism or power. Having Fellaini alongside him helped, but played his part in United's absent twenty minutes at the start of the second half. Still, he's a classy passer of the ball and he links well with the back four, dropping in to become the third option for David de Gea as the centre-halves spread and the full-backs advance. Like many of United's team at the moment, looks much better in possession then out of it.
Angel di María: 7
Unusually quiet by his own high standards, which is perhaps down to a number of circumstantial factors — particularly his being played wider than he has previously, and Chelsea doing very well to cut off his supply lines — as to any underperformance on his part. Still, his crossing remains powerfully erotic, and he positively hums with danger whenever he gets the ball at this feet. Won and sent in the free-kick that led to the equaliser.
Juan Mata: 5
Oh, Juan. Three games to make a case for his selection ahead of Wayne Rooney, and he's not really impressed in any of them. As ever, the occasional neat touch and clever pass failed to disguise a performance that was at best diffident. Admittedly, being up against the Premier League's best defensive midfielder won't have helped, but once again Mata looked the most disposable of United's attacking options. Which is, presumably, why he was the player taken off as United chased the game. Again. Oh, Juan.
Marouane Fellaini: 12,473
Hands up who saw that coming? Put your hand down, you big fibber. Marouane Fellaini outplayed Cesc Fabregas and it didn't happen in a daydream being had by Marouane Fellaini while he was sitting on the bench. Decent with the ball, excellent without, Fellaini had his best game for United and, following his goalscoring cameo against West Brom, might just be working out how to be a Manchester United player. Like Rafael, he also managed to get through the game without winning himself the inevitable second booking. Related: didn't elbow anybody in the face. Next up, Yaya Toure.
Adnan Januzaj: 7
Was appalling against West Brom; was excellent, particularly in the first half, against Chelsea. Maybe he just can't take the smaller teams seriously. Or maybe footballing form is a complex beast that resists such simplistic understanding. Either way, United's new No. 11 linked up encouragingly with Luke Shaw on the left, made life uncomfortable for Ivanovic, and generally flitted around in the ethereal manner expected of him. Might well have played himself into a start against City.
Robin van Persie: 7
Had a very good game, and found one pretty good finish when it mattered. The listlessness of his recent outings was gone, as too was the unremitting focus on shooting from all angles. Up against a keeper less overwhelming than Thibaut Courtois he could perhaps have nicked a goal during the first half, but for once he made an impression that wasn't entirely contingent on his finishing. Then he took his shirt off and his manager called him a big silly.
James Wilson (on for Mata 67'): 6
Didn't get much in the way of a sniff of goal, but looked entirely unbothered by the magnitude of the occasion and the quality of the opposition. Buzzed around energetically and linked up neatly with his colleagues. Won't be the last we see of him this season, particularly as Van Gaal's changed his shirt number to include a number 9. Presumably he gets the 39 shirt after he scores his tenth goal.