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Man United 1-2 CHELSEA: Week Off Pays Dividends In Title Battle


I was sick with nerves from the minute I woke yesterday and that wasn’t helped to hear Didier Drogba was on the bench again. In fact, with Ashley Cole and Michael Essien sitting there fully clothed, you couldn’t help but think our best players were part of the crowd. There was a start for Joe Cole though – and what a lively start it turned out to be.

Definitely looking like the team who’d had a week off, it was a confident start from our players, keeping our midfield tight and giving United no room to manoeuvre. A couple of poor attempted clearances gave Joe Cole a half-chance to latch onto but it came to nothing before back down the other end, Cech was doing his best to unnerve us with his clearances.

On 19 minutes though, Fletcher offered Malouda the invitation to run into the box before he’d realised what he’d done. By that time though, he’d cut it back for Joe Cole to put a cheeky little back flick into the net. Touch of class from the player rumoured to be heading to Old Trafford in the summer – just to prove he’s definitely a Chelsea man at heart.

Deco could, and probably should have picked out the goalscorer again but his final ball was poor. And then came the first controversial decision of the day as Zhirkov left out a leg to see Park hit the floor in the box. Mind you, despite the inevitable nail-biting, the fact that not a single question was asked by the United defence, probably made it easier for Dean not to respond. Just to even things up though, Dean made sure he missed Neville blatantly step across Anelka in the area with no attempt to play the ball whatsoever, to make it 1-all in terms of decisions.

We were having a ridiculous amount of possession but inevitably failed to capitalise on it, with all our probing not really getting us anywhere. And as if to demonstrate that, the marauding Malouda went off on a run that saw him skipping past several United challenges and somehow managing to stay upright – which is no mean feat when it’s Paul Scholes throwing the tackles in.

Just short of half-time, some lovely Berbatov skill in the box saw Lampard come in and deal with it, taking the ball – unlike Neville who’d just been booked for taking the man before the ball because he couldn’t cope with getting the runaround. Terry didn’t do much better, giving away an unnecessary free-kick right on half-time for a foul on Berbatov on the edge of the area. Fortunately though, Ferreira got a head to it to keep our lead going into the break.

Start of the second half saw Ferreira involved again, with a dizzy run towards goal although he couldn’t get his foot on it properly for a shot thanks to Evra bearing down on him and a great opportunity to extend our lead went begging. As to be expected though, Fergie must have had the hairdryer out during the break and around the hour mark whatever he’d said seemed to sink in because they upped their game.

Zhirkov was called on for a bit of defensive work before Giggs tried to curl a free-kick in for Berbatov. The flag would’ve gone up if he’d got on the end of it anyway but we didn’t have to wait to find out as it curled past the United frontman. A bit of poor defending on our part let Fletcher stroll too far forward next although fortunately Park sent a wild one over but we were starting to groan a bit under the strain as United started to grab the opportunity and the ascendency.

Evra was causing the sort of problems Malouda had in the first half and with us no longer dictating the tempo like we had in the first half we were having to soak up pressure with some desperate defending at times. Little wonder Ancelotti decided to bring Drogba on at this point then because it wasn’t looking like one goal was going to be enough anymore. Fergie’s response was to bring on Nani and Macheda and Nani’s first involvement was to get himself a free-kick on the edge of the area. The result was a booking for Joe Cole, who tried to hold up the proceedings, and United screaming for handball but bearing in mind it’d hit Drogba on the shoulder it was clear there was a lot of straw clutching going on.

Joe Cole made way for Kalou and as it went into the last quarter of an hour, you could feel a goal coming. Strangely enough though, despite all the pressure coming from the home side, is was our super sub of the day who made it 2-0. Picking up Kalou’s pass, Didier Drogba drilled it past Van der Sar in the 79th minute. Ok, so it was easily offside but fuck it, I said before the game I’d take the goals any way they came against United, so I felt no shame bouncing around like a manic on amphetamines in celebration.

Not that I wasn’t brought back down to earth of course, because it was United’s substitutes linking up for the next goal, with Cech only managing to push Nani’s cross out as far as Macheda and failing to get to it a second time. This time it was the Chelsea captain jumping up and down screaming handball and as it turns out, he had every right to do so.

More nail-biting followed as we clung on for dear life, no doubt chewing down to our elbows with Berbatov volleying from the penalty spot. Fortunately, it wasn’t too difficult for Petr Cech but the agony wasn’t over yet as the ref added 4 minutes. The last two of these saw even Van der Sar in our area but somehow, we made it to the whistle with the lead and the points to take away.

Overall then, it goes without saying everyone will be talking about Drogba’s goal but that does us a disservice because his wasn’t the only goal that shouldn’t have stood and over the ninety minutes I think we were the better side. In fact, as gutting as it was to go out of the Champions League, we’ve probably been the better side since then because our response has been top drawer. As for United, it’s clear they don’t like playing after their European nights and if that trend continues, we really could be in with a shout.


MAN UNITED: Van der Sar, Neville, Ferdinand,Vidic, Evra, Valencia, Fletcher (Gibson, 86), Giggs, Scholes (Nani, 71), Park Ji-Sung (Macheda, 71), Berbatov.

CHELSEA: Cech, Ferreira, Alex, Terry, Zhirkov, J Cole (Kalou, 73), Deco (Ballack, 82), Lampard, Mikel, Malouda, Anelka (Drogba, 69).


MAN UNITED: Macheda, 81

CHELSEA: J Cole 19, Drogba, 78



Blue is the colour is an honest insight to the World of Chelsea FC. Not always pretty, sometimes rather cynical, but always realistic.


April 2010
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