Chelsea 1-0 Man United: Ugly Match Exposes United’s Frailties
This was one of those Premier League matches that had a draw written all over it that was crying out for just one decent attempt to puncture the dull game. And it finally came three-quarters into the match where John Terry headed the ball into the corner of the net.
Yet again, Sir Alex Ferguson put out a defensive minded team that played very cautiously with Wayne Rooney often up front on his own. Ferguson did the same against Liverpool at Anfield recently, and you have to wonder whether Ferguson believes deep down that his side are not capable of winning games when they’re up against superior opposition. Not sure why, but Ferguson waited until the 85th minute before bringing on Michael Owen to give Rooney a striking partner up top, but it was far too late in the game to make a difference.
In this frustrating match, I lost count of the number of bad passes, skewed shots, mid-air collisions and niggly tackles. It seemed everyone on the pitch was rusty Sunday. It reminded me a lot of the 2008 Champions League Final between those two sides which I thought was a painful final to watch until the penalty kicks added a saving grace. This was pretty close, but not as bad. But there was plenty of bad blood on display in the constant bickering and fouls committed by both teams.
As soon as the game kicked off, it seemed that Manchester United were going for a 0-0 draw. When Chelsea attacked, United had as many as eight players back to defend. Maybe Ferguson senses that Chelsea were the superior team so rather than suffer a psychological defeat, he wanted to go for the draw instead and keep the gap near the top of the table close. Too much to risk by going on the attack. But the plan backfired when Terry nodded the ball into the back of the net.
After Chelsea scored the solitary goal, I was expecting Manchester United to step up their performance and pile the pressure on Chelsea. While they did push forward more often, Chelsea did well to keep United at bay and to limit their chances to a few innocent attempts. This is definitely not a Man United team that seems capable of winning the Premier League trophy this season.
Based on the performance by both teams at Stamford Bridge today, I would much prefer to see a team like Arsenal who play positive football lift the trophy this season. Thank god none of my NFL fans watched this game today. I would have been embarrassed by the football on display. Nevertheless, Chelsea now have a massive psychological edge over United and must be favored to win the title if they keep going at this rate.