The Manchester United Chelsea game at Stamford Bridge yesterday was meant to be a dramatic encounter between the top two sides in the league at the moments and it was just that.
But what was meant to be a theatrical spectacle between two teams that had scored 40 goals between them, started as a monologue in front of 41,644 people as Sir Alex’s Ferguson’s side were the only side saying anything. United finding the net twice in the first twelve minutes confirmed that the game would have goals but with United’s defensive frailties Chelsea would always have a chance.
Slowly the home side began to remember their lines and by the 53rd minute Juan Mata and Ramires had brought them level, setting the stage for a ‘villain’ to steal the headlines.
There was inevitably uproar as Mark Clattenburg showed red cards to both Ivanovic and Torres as well as allowing an offside goal from Javier Hernandez to stand, with these decisions swinging a game that was perhaps getting away from United in our favour. But there was more to the game than this.
Here are 5 things we learned from yesterday’s game:
Sir Alex Ferguson has real options
Many had expected United to go with the narrower diamond formation in an attempt to contain Chelsea in the middle of the park but instead the United reverted to the 4-4-2, employing Valencia and Young on the wings. It was an unexpected move and one that paid off as Valencia ran Cole ragged (as usual0 setting up RVP’s second whilst it was Young that was brought down by Ivanovic, leading to the Serb defender to see red.
Mark Lawrenson called it a ‘masterstroke’ and ‘bold’ as United decided to fight fire with fire, rather than try and contain Chelsea and reaped the rewards.
The beautiful thing is United now have a number of effective formations to call on which will leave managers guessing right up until they see the teamsheet as to how to deal with Sir Alex’s side.
David De Gea needs to be Manchester United’s #1
The Spanish goalkeeper seems to enjoy playing against Chelsea and yesterday was an important figure in our win as he made a number of important saves to keep Chelsea at bay as they attempted to get back into the game.
He is sometimes unorthodox and still has other areas of his game to work on but he is a good young goalkeeper that will become brilliant. His shot stopping makes for some great highlight reel stuff and if the rest of his game gets to this level, we will be set for years to come considering he is just 21.
A very un-Manchester United characteristic
Having hailed David De Gea, it’s only right we look at why.
Normally when Manchester United go 2-0 up against anyone it signals the end of a game, but in recent times we have allowed teams a way back in and against a side as strong as Chelsea this is tantamount to suicide.
Our defence continues to lack a settled feel about it and it is worrying that Chelsea seemed to set off panic alarms with almost every attack.
In our current state teams know they have a chance against thus will have a go, so the sooner we shape up at the back the easier these games will be not only for the team but for our hearts as well!
Mark Clattenburg has been at the center of a storm ever since he showed Fernando Torres a red (Ivanovic’s was a sending off no matter what way you look at it) and rightly so. Many have rightly claimed his decisions turned the game in United’s favour and whilst I’m not complaining, poor officiating is poor officiating and it always seems to rear it head when United play Chelsea.
Drogba’s offside goal against us in April 2010? The freekick that lead to John Terry’s winner in November 2009? The penalty given against Carrick in May 2008? Luiz’s persistently committing fouls yet remaining on the pitch in April 2011? The soft penalty that won the game for them in that same game? Torres nearly decapitating Cleverley yesterday?
Yes as you can tell I am FAR from sympathetic to Chelsea’s complaints, and in fact I am quite pleased we won in the manner that we did as it is normally us that is getting short shrift when we face Chelsea.
Chelsea’s fans remain as classy as ever
Like those at Anfield, Chelsea’s fans haven’t quite grasped the concept of how things work. If you are racially abused you are the victim, so to hear them continually boo Rio Ferdinand was disappointing to say the least. Like in January, Ferdinand, who’s only crime was to stand up for his brother, was mercilessly hounded by those at Stamford Bridge but had the last laugh as United won the game.
His defiant pose after Hernandez’s winner saw a shower of missiles aimed at the pitch but Chelsea will have to make do with being second best as United held on to their lead, as well as scum.