Sunday, January 11, 2009

Fergie shuffles pack but Reds still thrash Chelsea...

Many United fans will no doubt have been dismayed on hearing the team news ahead of the visit of Chelsea. United had to make do without Rio Ferdinand again, due to another back spasm, as if that was bad enough there was no Michael Carrick or Paul Scholes in midfield, but after his midweek performance at Pride Park the latter came as no surprise.

The midfield trio consisted of Fletcher - who is usually selected whenever United face Chelsea - Ryan Giggs and Ji Sung Park. The Reds midfield threesome combined well on the day, but on paper before the game kicked-off it simply did not look right with no obvious ball-player in the engine room.

Fergie had by the looks of it, decided that what he needed for the challenge of Chelsea was fresh legs in midfield. As things turned out, it was a gamble that paid-off handsomely with Giggs and Park running their hearts out for the Champions, so much so that Park came close to winning my man-of-the-match vote. Yes, there were times during this game when the South Korean gifted possession back to Chelsea cheaply, as he so often does, but then on other first-half occasion he linked up well with Ronaldo, Park would have scored if it hadn't been for John Terry's sliding block on the edge of the Chelsea six-yard box.

Park's performance epitomised the spirit United needed today, it was a case of bollock bursting none stop effort from start to finish and he wasn't the only one in the Red shirt to give his all, with Giggs and Fletcher getting about Chelsea whenever required.

As is often the case when United meet Chelsea, it was a midfield battle in the first-half, it was also a fairly even contest with neither side creating much in the way of clear cut goal scoring chances.

However, once again card-happy Howard Webb had a poor game when refereeing this fixture. Webb denied United a cast-iron first-half penalty when Carvalho clearly man-handled Ronaldo to the ground inside the Chelsea 18-yard-box. Bizarrely, Webb then booked Ronaldo and the Chelsea defender and gave the visitors a free-kick, this after he'd had the benefit of a clear view of the foul. Webb needs to be shown a video-clip of the incident and he really should be offering a explanation for what was an truly rank-bad awful decision.

There was yet more controversy to follow, as just before half-time the Champions took a quick corner on the right and Ronaldo nodded home a Giggs cross beyond the reach of Cech - only for the goal to be disallowed because Rooney had not told the officials he was taking a quick short corner. Fergie later disputed that the officials needed to be told, which only added to the confusion. As things turned out, United scored from the retaken corner when man-of-the-match Vidic scored with a towering header at the far post to give Fergie's team a well deserved half-time lead.

It came as no surprise when at half-time Scolari sent on Anelka who replaced the totally ineffective Deco. It changed nothing, as United took an even stronger grip on the game as the second period progressed. It came as no surprise when the Champions doubled their advantage after good work by Ronaldo, who was having another fairly quiet game. In the 63 minute, the Portuguese winger cleverly flicked the ball to another man-of-the-match candidate Patrice Evra. The Frenchman's superb cross found Wayne Rooney, who finished in the best possible way when slamming home the ball from in between the legs of Ashley Cole - it really doesn't get any sweeter than that.

From that point onwards it looked as though United might get three or even four and a rout was beginning to look on the cards. On 87 minutes, Ronaldo won the Red Devils a free-kick on the left, deep inside the Chelsea half after he was hacked down twice by substitute Belletie. From the resulting free-kick Vidic blocked-off the challenge's of John Terry and then Di Santo which allowed Berbatov room to run to the near post unchallenged and then smash home the killer third goal.

Anyone who saw this performance, perhaps other than a diehard Chelsea fan will likely tell you that this defeat could be telling and possibly even crushing for Scolari's team and their title hopes.

The defeat changes little in terms of league positions at this stage of the season, all is still to play for both United and Chelsea, but the manner of the defeat will worry followers of Chelsea as there was no response or fight-back and most damning of all, the visitors had no shots on target but I'd put much of that down to United's back four who were magnificent today.

Make no mistake though, Chelsea's hack friends in the press will be after Scolari's blood following this thrashing by the Champions. Jose Mourinho was sat in the Old Trafford stands and you do wonder what he made of it all, no doubting we shall hear all about that over the coming days following this dusting by the Champions.

The result will have on-looking Liverpool fans worried and they have every right to be concerned given that the Champions are starting to look ominous and this after Fergie had made some surprise changes to his team.

Rafa Benitez, had prior to the game, tried to influence the referee when suggesting that United and Fergie get away with murder, well the tables have been well and truly turned and the pressure is now very much on the Spaniard and his title chasing pretenders.

2 comments:

  1. Yup we did crash Chelsea. The race still has some way to go but this win today might give us the boost we needed to keep mounting a serious challenge. Remember our FA cup win over Arsenal 4-0 last year? That win was pivotal in our win of the premier league. After that game United kept winning while Arsenal lost some important games. RAFA were you watching?

    Oliver
    http://utdtillidie.blogspot.com

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  2. I'm really delighted with Man Utd's win. What concern me most is Mr. Webb's decision yesterday, seems to me he's smoking weed. Anyway, this win over Chelsea should shut Rafa's mouth up.

    Liverpool vs Stoke (0-0)

    Lol big time.

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