Sometimes the big games can be either a great game, or a great let down, but with the first 5 minutes of the game resembling the last 5 minutes of a game, you knew that it wasn’t going to be a let down. Both United and Chelsea started straight from the kick off showing their intentions on winning the game, and trying to win the game early. Torres has a scrappy shot go in, but the referee had blown for a fouled in the area, which you have seen been give, but also seen not give. Some consistency is wanted in refereeing decision, but ref’s are only human, so everyone will see the same incident different. If the goal stood after two minutes then the game could have been different. Malouda then had a great chance, but though he kept his shot low, it was straight at Van der Sar, and Torres looked bright spearheading a lot of the Chelsea attacks. Essien was controlling the Chelsea midfield and with both teams playing a conventional 4-4-2 there was more space in the centre of the park. United wanted to control some of Chelsea’s attacks that come down the left hand side and from Ashley Cole by having Darren Fletcher playing on the right hand side to effectively marking out of the game, which worked to some degree, but Cole is always going to get forward. United could have had a call for a penalty, when the ball had struck Terry’s arm, but he did have it as close to his body as he could, and if it was given, it could also been seen as harsh, so i think the right call was made there. with the first 25 minutes gome, Chelsea had 4 corners where United didn’t have won, but for the more of the ball, and more attacking opportunities Chelsea were unable to make anything stick. United had a free kick or two, but were also unable to turn the chance into a goal. United started to get more of a foothold in the game, and it was United who broke the deadlock when Rooney, who wasnt closed down, show the shooting opportunity and unleashed a fearsome low shot which scream in. It was an unstoppable shot, as Cech is a keeper than can stop the greatest of shot, but this one was just that little bit too quick, it was the speed and accuracy of the shot that made it so unstoppable. Rooney had little niggles here and there proir to the goal, and was making the referee know about it, and a fired up Rooney is always dangerous. Chelsea soon had a chance to equalise, but some how didn’t. They were award a free kick for the foul on Torres by Evra. Honestly it just looked like they ran into each other, but it went Chelsea’s way. Lampard fired it into the box across goal where it ricocheted around, but didn’t go in. Van der Sar made the initial save pushing it out but it was all blue shirts that were closing in, and the ball hit Ivanovic on the tight and then he tried to kick it in, but Van der Sat who was on the deck reached up and flicked it away onto Vidic’s chest leaving it for O’Shea to clear away. Chelsea regained possession, but when it was worked into a shooting chance it was a rather lame effort from Lampard and Van der Sar easily saved it. Chelsea were so close to having scored it was just the fingertips of Van der Sar that kept United in the lead. And with that, raised the questions of who is going to fill his gloves when he retires at the end if the season. Chelsea had a free kick right at the end of the first half which Ashley Cole took, but put over, not troubling Van der Sar in anyway. The ironic jeers of shoot rang out from the United fans, not just for the missed shot, but who what has come to light this week in regards to Ashley Cole.
With the first half over, came the first moment to reflect, as the game was an end to end affair. Nani was a real threat for United, where you could see by Essien’s shirt how hard he had been working. Smalling was partnering Vidic, but you didn’t really notice him, and that is always a good sign, as normally defenders only really get noticed when they make a mistake, but he did what he needed to do well. David Luis was having a good game for Chelsea too, on more than one occasion he brought the ball out of defense to start some of Chelsea’s attacks, while also doing a good defensive job. Rooney’s goal was the difference of the two teams, but that just brings up the case of whether he should have been playing, because of what had happened at the weekend, which he has had no action against for the elbow he threw. The first half was a great game, but could the second half be filled with as much drama and excitement, yes!
The first real chance if the second half fell to Chelsea and Frank Lampard. It came from a free kick that Lampard took, but it was not as effective the one earlier, but it got through the wall, but safely in the arms of Van der Sar. Evra had pushed up and travelled well with the ball before laying it off for Rooney, but his curling shot was going wide and didn’t trouble Cech in the end. Ivanovic did well with dealing with Nani, who quick feet didn’t get the better of Ivanovic that often. But it was Nani and Rooney who were there best attacking options. But in contrast Chelsea as a team looked more dangerous and on the 53rd minute got the equalizer they were searching for and it came from the defender David Luis. It started when Lampard’s corner to the near post didn’t connect with anybody and bounced out of the box was chased down by Fernando Torres and laid it off for Malouda who cross was then headed clear. Essien collected the ball and delivered a cross which was won and by Ivanovic, the ball bounced to an unmarked David Luis who Volleyed it home brilliantly with his right foot. The technique was perfect and it was fitting that he score with the way he had played so far in the game. The shot left Van der Sar absolutely no chance, he didn’t have the time to start to dive, all he could do was watch it fizz past him. Terry gave the ball away twice with some really sloppy defending which lead to a United attacked. Rooney got the ball and put Hernandez through, David Luis then did seem to body check Hernandez with his shoulder, but nothing was given and play continued but nothing came from it and Chelsea regained possession when Cech picked up the loose through ball by Nani. Replays showed that there seemed to be a bit of intent by Luis with how he had planted his foot so far forward and moved into Hernandez. David Luis was then in the thick of the action again when he was on the attack on the right side, when he passed to Essien who lost control, Luis chased down the ball to Scholes, who held on to it well before he was tackled by Torres. For a central defender Luis gets forward as much as possible. He did soon get booked though, when he went through the back of Wayne Rooney. Didier Drogba came on for Anelka, who in truth hadn’t contributed that much to the game. United didn’t seem to be able to turn what possession they had into any real goal scoring threats, where as Chelsea seemed more like they were going to be getting a goal. and that was show when after 60 minutes the stats for Chelsea stood at 14 shots to United 4, Chelsea having 6 on target to United’s 1. It wasnt long after that till Rooney ran onto Nani’s through ball, but Rooney who ran into the box, and had the time to get a shot away, was unable to find the target and it went well wide, a great chance for UNited to take the lead but didn’t. Chelsea midfield seemed to do better with the ball, with Essien, Ramires and Lampard doing well to keep possession but move forward with it. Ramires and Essien seem to have built a good understand, as when one was forward the other was back covering and they working very effectively together.Sine coming on Drogba wasnt involved all that much, but he did put through Torres, but he was unable to hold off his run, and was caught offside. Sir Alex Ferguson decided to bring on Bertbatov and Giggs for Hernandez and Scholes to try to turn the game into their favour, and Carlo Ancelotti took off Malouda and brough on Zhirkov. Drogba was getting more involved in the game by now, and from Torres nod down, took the ball and ran at the United defense. He manged to get a shot off, but it was deflected and went out for a corner. But than wasnt the end of the move for Drogba who showed his leader abilities, and started to egg on the crowd, waving his arms up and down, getting the home fans to make noise and get behind the team. which worked to great effect. Nothing came from the resulting corner, but from the goal kick, United just gave possession back to Chelsea so within seconds were back up in United’s half on the attack. Chelsea got a free kick, but this time Lampard left it to Drogba, but he was unable to hit the target. United started to go on the attack, and Rooney had a shot but it was to straight, there was enough power on it for Cech to beat it away, rather than catch it, but it was too straight. Only minutes later, Luis tripped Rooney, but no free kick was given and Luis was lucky, because if it had been given he surely would have been off for a second yellow. United was on the attack again, but the cross was poor and caught by Cech, who rolled it out to Lampard who drove into the centre of United half before he passed it to Drogba. Lampard overlapped and Drogba back heeled to Lampard who laid it off for Zhirkov in the box. The ball didn’t reach Zhirkov as it hit Smalling’s foot, but he was unable to clear or control it, and as it bounced off him, it hit Zhirkov and went back through Smalling’s legs and Zhrirkov went over Smalling’s foot. Smalling did his best not to continue his leg moving forward, but even though he stopped , it was enough for Zhrikov to go over, and a penalty was given. It was left for Lampard to take, and he drilled it right down the middle. Van der Sar did his best to try and reach for it, but he was already going to his right and didn’t have a chance. David Luis came off for Jose Bosingwa. Luis on a yellow card and who really could have been booked earlier, and could have seen red was undoubtably taken off for that reason alone, as he had been amazing all game besides for that. Fabio came on for United replacing Evra. With the second goal, Chelsea then seemed to want a third as they went on to attack as soon as they could. Cole who had been kept quiet all game stormed forward but nothing but a corner came from it. The header was cleared but it fell to Zhrikov who unleashed one hell of a shot, but Vidic’s quick reactions put it on to the post for another corner. Chelsea started playing with some real confidence and Ramires went down the right side and crossed in for Essien which resulted in yet another corner for Chelsea. United cleared the corner, and Berbatov got his first real touch of the ball since coming on, who then passed it on. Giggs received the ball and delivered a great outside of the ball across to Berbatov, but his cross was blocked by Zhrikov and went out for United second corner of the game. comparing that to Chelsea’s 9 or 10. Manchester United were unable to make anything of the resulting corner. Both team went back and fourth but no real chances came untill the referee assistant held up the board to indicate 4 extra minutes. Chelsea got the ball and went to run it down and resulted in fouls. Vidic then was booked for his foul on Ramires and that saw him receive his second yellow and see red. That red card means Vidic will be out of the Liverpool game, which is not what Ferguson would have wanted.Chelsea just ran down the clock, Torres had a chance, but he pulled it back, but nothing came from it. Not a lot of people thought Chelsea would win, feeling a draw or United win was a much more likely result, but in the end it was the London side that grabbed all three points and have tripped up United in their pursuit of the Premiership Title. A great end to end game, and with that win, Chelsea move above Tottenham to 4th. This win for Chelsea has re-opened the title race in a whole different way now. If Arsenal beat Sunderland, that will put them 1 point behind United, and with Manchester United facing Liverpool without Vidic and maybe Ferdinand, if they lose, Arsenal could take top spot. The title race has just heated up.