First off, I would like to start by saying that, as a supporter of Man United, it will be tricky to avoid a bias in this article, however, I’ll try my best to be as neutral as I can be. Also, I realise that this post is coming out a few days after the event again, I normally post on Wednesdays/Thursdays and on Saturdays/Sundays (depending on the events of the weekend’s football action), because I like to keep to a schedule to maintain consistent posting, so I’m sorry it’s a bit late again, I was just away over last week so already had posts scheduled for the Wednesday and Saturday, and didn’t want to overload you. Anyway, on with the post.
Before Sunday, Man United hadn’t beaten Chelsea at home since 2012, where they won 3-1 (you’ll probably remember this match for Fernando Torres’ infamous howler where he missed an open net by a good 5 meters at least).
Chelsea had lost 1 in their last 5 games coming into Old Trafford, the Red Devils had been unbeaten in the league since their 4-0 humiliation at Stamford Bridge in October. That’s 21 games.
Chelsea had won 24 (most in the league, lost 4 and drawn 3 (least in the league) before Saturday, United had won 15 (least in top 7), drawn 12 (joint most in the league with ‘Boro) and lost 3 (joint least in the league with Spurs).
The match was built up to be one of the most competitive games of the season, with the league’s top winners and a side unbeaten in the league since October squaring up. One had to give.
Chelsea started looking OK, not much special but not much wrong either, however, that all changed in the seventh minute. The blues were building up an attack when a Nemanja Matic attempted pass hit the arm of Ander Herrera (more on that later), who then controlled the ball, and threaded an exquisite pass through to the quick youngster Marcus Rashford, who showed excellent class to finish the attack with a strike into Asmir Begovic’s far corner.
But should it have been disallowed? As I said, I’ll try my hardest not to be biased in this article, but I genuinely think that the referee got it right. Anyone who watches Ander Herrera regularly will know that when he’s defending, he has a rather unorthodox body positioning. He bends his knees, keeps a straight back, keeps his arms straight just above his waist and leans into the attacker. This was the position he was in when Nemanja Matic was running towards him, and I realise his arms weren’t in a position that a defender would have them, but this was perfectly natural for the Spaniard, who tries to move his arm away at the last second, so for me, good decision ref!
United were commanding since the first goal. They kept tight to Chelsea’s quick attackers, and they fired up Diego Costa so that he was much more ineffective. Ths is what United tried to do when the sides met in The FA Cup Quater Finals, where they tried to use Phil Jones in midfield to keep Eden Hazard out of the game, but when Herrera was sent off, it meant that the Englishman had to do twice as much work, and keep one of the world’s best players in his back pocket, a simply impossible task.
Ander Herrera was particularly good at his job. He kept tight to Eden Hazard, but not too tight, in the sweet spot where the attacker can feel your breath down their neck, but not so tight that if Hazard pulls off one of his trademark flicks to get around him, he has the slight headstart, meaning he can gain a little bit of acceleration and momentum to keep up with the Belgian without being completely caught flat-footed and left for dead. This meant that Hazard was almost invisible during the game, and had no impact going forwards. Hence, Chelsea didn’t have a shot on target all match.
.Then, just after half-time, it was the Spaniard who struck to truly sink Chelsea. Excellent work from captain Ashley Young on the left-hand side only ran into traffic, so he cleverly laid it off to the midfielder. You were thinking “touch it inside, put in a cross curving in towards goal”, and when he struck it goalwards into the sea of blue, you were thinking “wasted chance!”, but, to my amazement, it deflected off David Luis and looped past the Bosnian ‘Keeper and into the back of the net.
For me, after that, there was no doubt that United would come away with the three points. Chelsea showed no chance of coming back into the game, and United were just excellent at keeping the blues under wraps.
Post Match Stats:
The Londoners didn’t have a single attempt on target all match for the first time since 2007.
Mourinho has now recorded a win against all 34 Premier League sides he has faced.
United have now gone 22 matches unbeaten in the league, breaking their own record for longest unbeaten streak within a single season where they have lost.
Can Chelsea Bounce back?
Of Course. They’re Chelsea, the second best team in the league (after Spurs) currently, and have one of the world’s best managers, so if anyone will know how to see out the league title, it’s them. However, I think that if there were the same amount of games in a Championship season (46), Spurs would just snatch the title off Chelsea at the last second, but, for me, there’s just not enough games left in the season for Spurs to catch them.
So, can Chelsea regain themselves and win the title as we have constantly expected, or will this result slip them up and let Spurs win their first league title since 1960? Please post your opinion in the comments down below, I’ll reply to them all, please like the post if you enjoyed it and if you want to read more and be alerted when I post new content then please subscribe to the site, you can use either your WordPress account or your e-mail address. There will be new content out at the weekend as per usual, so stay tuned!