“A game which both side didn’t want to lose” was the rightful description of this game by Chelsea’s Frank Lampard as the two EPL Giants exchanged possession but, still struggled to breakdown the other’s defense and break the dreadlocks. Jose Mourinho opted to start Andre Schurrle upfront and later on brought in Fernando Torres in the 2nd half. Also Juan Mata’s less than stellar performance against Aston Villa in midweek didn’t help as he remained on the bench through out the 90 mins.
Manchester United (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Jones, Ferdinand, Vidic (c), Evra; Carrick, Cleverley; Valencia (Young 66) Rooney, Welbeck (Giggs 77); Van Persie.
Unused substitutes: Lindegaard, Smalling, Buttner, Anderson, Kagawa.
Chelsea FC (4-2-3-1): Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry (c), Cole; Ramires, Lampard; De Bruyne (Torres 59), Oscar, Hazard (Azpilicueta 90+3); Schurrle (Mikel 86).
Unused substitutes: Schwarzer, Essien, Mata, Lukaku.
Booked De Bruyne 31, Torres 79
Possession: Man Utd 55% – 45% Chelsea FC Total Shots: Man Utd 12 – 8 Chelsea FC
Off sides: Man Utd 3 -1 Chelsea FC Shots on target: Man Utd 3 – 4 Chelsea FC
Corners: Man Utd 4 – 1 Chelsea FC Shot Accuracy: Man Utd 30% – 57% Chelsea FC
Even though as you looked at the stats, some one who didn’t watch the game might assume that United had a better control of the game but, that was not the case. Jose Mourinho pointed out on his post match interview on Sky Sports that there were ‘6 or 7 situations were with the spaces we had, our players could have done better in terms of their ability and speed.’ He is of course referring to the 3 attacking players Oscar, Hazard and De Bruyne (Schurlle later on after Torres came on for KdB).
Jose’s tactics were that Ramires and specifically Lampard were supposed to cross long through balls in to Schurrle were he could beat Ferdinand or Vidic with his speed and pace to finish in to the back of the net. And it was not that easy for the German winger as it seemed. Lampard or any of the attacking midfielders didn’t manage to find Schurrle in the box but, he provided a lot of pace and energy by playing his heart out on the pitch. If players covering distance was measured through out the pitch, no one could have come close to Schurrle’s work rate out of the 22 players that played at Old Trafford.
A lot of the times in the 1st half, John Terry managed to make key interceptions of Van Persie and Rooney as the captain picked up the Barclays man of the match award after the game. Rooney was also providing a lot of key passes to attacking players and wingers as he was the best player of the match for Man Utd.
One moment particularly angered Jose Mourinho and a lot of Chelsea fans as De bruyne was booked by Atkinson just for getting in the way of Van Persie. It was clear to see and both players collided and ended up on the floor. As we have been accustomed to a lot of times during the Fergie years at United, the Ref gave a bloodied De Bruyne a yellow and signaled for a free kick for United.
In the second half, Danny Welbeck curled an ambitious effort over before lifing a more delicate attempt just wide from Rooney’s short pass. Both sides had desperate penalty appeals, United when Tom Cleverley’s shot struck Frank Lampard on the arm, Chelsea after Cole hit the deck under a perceived shirt-pull from Jones.
The introduction of Torres on the hour mark failed to change much, so Rooney’s lung-bursting run back to a corner flag to rob Ramires brought a standing ovation. It took Rooney some time to get forward after that but when he did, he brought a full length save out of Cech. That’s how it was for most of the game as Cech easily dealt with each of United’s shots on targets most of them coming from Wayne Rooney.
A game that was closely contested in every aspect finally ended 0-0 as Chelsea pick up a deserved point from the game for our defensive brilliance with how we dealt with a fearsome United attacking front. Cahill and Terry’s partnership looked solid once again as Van Persie was overshadowed for most of the game by a trademark, fearless leadership by Terry.
We now look forward to the Bayern Munich game in Prague on Friday for the UEFA Super Cup. Till then, please read, comment and share to spread our coverage of this clash of two EPL giants! KTBFFH