Manchester United v Chelsea: Open Thread

Feel free to post your observations about the biggest match of the season throughout the game today. A few observations before the game has kicked off:

  • Didier Drogba is on the bench. Could Chelsea be more powerful today without him? If they played like they did against Aston Villa, the answer is yes.
  • Alexi Lalas is in Tommy Smyth’s chair today. It seems weird to see Lalas there, even if it’s just temporarily. I thought Lalas hated the English Premier League or thought it was overrated?
  • Scholes is starting instead of Carrick, which is a surprise move.
  • ESPN2 seems to be handing over the audio to the game commentators later and later. Remember the good old days earlier this season when they would hand it over as the players were in the tunnel?
  • Big game today for Peter Drury to commentate. He usually doesn’t get the big games like this.

Here’s the live blog of the match:

3rd minute: It’s been all Chelsea so far. Alex’s header from the corner should have at least been on target. Good start by the Blues.

4th minute: Dimitar Berbatov can run! He can run!

8th minute: Lively game so far. Seems very promising. Manchester United seems a bit slow so far and unable to keep possession.

9th minute: Decent header by Berbatov, wide of the post. In terms of chances so far, it’s equal. One by Alex. One by Berbatov.

12th minute: Scuffed shot by Joe Cole into the arms of van der Sar. Nemanja Vidic looks a bit shaky in the back for United so far today.

13th minute: Good pressure by Si-Jung causes Petr Cech to miskick his clearance.

14th minute: Good inter-play between Giggs and Evra on the left wing. Evra gets past a couple of Chelsea players but his shot at goal is easy for Cech to stop.

17th minute: I wonder if the Glazers ever thought about changing the colors of the stewards jackets? They look a bit too close to the green and gold brigade colors to me!

18th minute: Manchester United fans booing John Terry as he runs forward. Those same fans will be cheering him in a couple of months when England plays in the World Cup.

20th minute: GOAL! Brilliant run by Malouda going past three United players on the left wing, and  a clever back heel by Joe Cole into the corner of the net.

22nd minute: A well deserved lead for Chelsea so far. The Blues have monopolized the possession and have looked more dangerous moving forward. Manchester United players look like they’re still in Munich. Giggs has been practically invisible thus far. They’re definitely missing Rooney who would start the attack in midfield and dart forward.

24th minute: Chelsea counter attack. Deco’s pass is too far out of the reach for Cole or Anelka to get it. Ends up being a corner to Chelsea.

25th minute: So far, Chelsea has been wasting their corners other than the first one.

26th minute: Penalty claim when Park goes down in the box. Pretty weak claim. Good decision by referee. What I’m noticing is that Chelsea is doing a fantastic job at crowding their box whenever Manchester United makes a run through the middle. It’s so crowded that United is having a tough time holding on to the ball there and doing anything constructive with it.

30th minute: Anelka got barged off the ball by Gary Neville. They had to be a penalty.

32nd minute: By this point in the game, there looks like a lot of tired legs for United.

33rd minute: Watching the replay of the Neville-Anelka incident, that definitely should have been a penalty. Poor decision by Mike Dean. In the meantime, why are some of the supporters chanting “USA, USA, USA”?

34th minute: Valencia is having a horrible game so far today. He keeps on losing the ball and is holding on to the ball for too long. He’s lost possession several times.

38th minute: Evra makes a dangerous cross across the box and Alex knocks it out for a corner. Corner is blocked well by Chelsea defenders and cleared. Again, why are the supporters singing “USA, USA, USA”? It’s definitely sarcastic. But I don’t get it.

42nd minute: At this point, you’ve got to be wondering what changes Sir Alex Ferguson will make at half-time. Berbatov has been ineffective but he hasn’t seen much of the ball. Scholes and Valencia are having poor games. The team is missing a playmaker today especially with Giggs on the left wing. Maybe it’d be better to bring Nani on for Giggs, and bring Carrick on for Scholes?

43th minute: Berbatov goes down in the box, but it’s a fair tackle from Frank Lampard in my opinion.

46th minute: Foul by Terry on Berbatov. Giggs gets ready to take a free kick from outside the box.

47th minute: Free kick cleared by Chelsea, and the Blues go on the counter attack again. It ends up getting snuffed out by Manchester United. But you have to say that Chelsea looked like the better team in the first half and look very dangerous on the counter attack. Sir Alex Ferguson has got a lot of thinking and screaming to do at half time.

Half-time: Nice to see Derek Rae giving a report alongside the touchline at Old Trafford.

46th minute: No changes from Manchester United?

47th minute: I’m still half asleep after being up most of the night with a cold, but it sounds as if it was the Chelsea fans chanting “USA, USA, USA” to piss off the United supporters because of the Glazers.

48th minute: Ferreira goes on a brilliant run but his shot goes past the far back post.

52nd minute: Nice shot by Evra, taking it first time on his left foot, but it goes wide of the post.

54th minute: Another bad pass by Scholes. And a foul throw by Chelsea. You don’t see that too often.

55th minute: United are keeping possession much better and passing the ball well. Park runs forward and gets chopped down for a United free kick in dangerous territory outside the box.

56th minute: Wasted free kick again by Giggs. This time Berbatov slips but he was offside anyway.

58th minute: Park gets a chance in front of goal, but it goes high wide and handsome. Still, it’s United’s best chance this game. But when you think of it, has Cech been forced to make a difficult save yet?

60th minute: By far it’s Man United’s best spell of the match as Berbatov’s header goes wide and United had a few chances right before that.

61st minute: Zhirkov is doing a tremendous job in his left back position of stopping Valencia from getting his trademark crosses into the box. Valencia has to turn back and hit the cross with his left foot instead of right.

66th minute: Fergie has definitely instructed his side to make better use of Valencia and have him play closer to the touchline. Scholes just sent another cross-field pass to him. Valencia crossed the ball into the box and Berbatov’s header was wide again. If they keep trying that, it’s bound to work sooner or later.

67th minute: United is playing much better this half. They’re spreading the players out wider and keeping possession. Vidic seems to be playing higher up the pitch and joining in the midfield now and again. But wait, Drogba looks like he’s coming on for Anelka. Bad news for United fans.

72nd minute: Macheda coming on for Park. Nani on for Scholes. Fergie, you should have made these changes at half-time, not now.

73rd minute: Manchester United players claim a Chelsea player handled the ball in the box. No way. Even if it was handball, Dean wouldn’t have seen it. Not sure about the assistant referee.

74th minute: Kalou on for Cole. Good substitution. Nani, meanwhile, has already made a couple of decent contributions.

76th minute: Dangerous cross by Zhirkov across the box for Chelsea and just out of the reach of Drogba.

78th minute: Kalou has a shot on goal, which is a good idea, but the shot is way too high. Manchester United has to be careful now because as they push forward for the equalizer, Chelsea is ready to break on the counter.

79th minute: GOAL! Drogba scores but he’s miles offside. Expect Fergie to be spitting blood at that one. I can’t believe that assistant referee Simon Beck didn’t notice that one. Man United 0-2 Chelsea. That second shouldn’t have been a goal, but it’s a fair reflection on the game so far.

81st minute: GOAL! Macheda gets a bit lucky but the ball goes into the back of the net after he deflects off him. Man United 1-2 Chelsea. This should be an amazing final 10 minutes.

84th minute: Why do the TWI/IMG cameras keep on showing Wayne Rooney? Do we have to see him again and again throughout the game? Focus your bloody cameras on what’s happening on the pitch, not off it!

86th minute: Darron Gibson comes on for Fletcher. United players will be hoping for a Gibson special. He definitely has a strong shot on him.

87th minute: On the close-up replay of Macheda’s goal, I watched it in slow-motion and I still can’t say 100% whether Macheda touched the ball with his hand. It could have been but the TV footage is inconclusive. Pretty tough to see from the angle they showed.

89th minute: Arsenal supporters must be hoping that Man United scores an equalizer to keep their title hopes alive.

91st minute: Berbatov with a brilliant chance in front of goal but he knocks it into the turf and into the arms of Cech. No pressure Berba, but you should have scored that one.

92nd minute: Another Giggs free kick. And another free kick that results in nothing. Poor game by Giggs by his standards.

94th minute: If the score remains the same, it’s a well deserved victory for Chelsea based on the 90 minutes in the game. BUT, Chelsea’s second goal shouldn’t have counted, so United supporters will feel aggrieved, rightfully so.

95th minute: Mike Dean blows for full-time. Manchester United 1-2 Chelsea. Chelsea is the victors and this will definitely help their push for a Premier League title. Good performance by them. For Manchester United, I think they were guilty of another poor performance but I was a bit puzzled by Ferguson’s insistence to keep Scholes on the pitch for so long as well as not bringing Nani on until later in the second half.

Post-match: Great use again of Derek Rae who reflects on the mood among the Chelsea and United players on their way through the tunnel. Meanwhile, Lalas puts his neck on the line and says that Arsenal’s Premier League title race is over due to injury to Fabregas. Personally, I think it’s far from over. Arsenal has the easiest run of the Big Four. And if Nasri can as influential as has the ability to be, then Arsenal is still in the race.

Post your comments below.

36 thoughts on “Manchester United v Chelsea: Open Thread”

  1. Lalas had an opinion about the Premier League that whether you agree or not agree with was based on his observations. That should not prohibit him from commentating on a match or a league. After all, it’s sharp edged opinions and thoughtful analysis that studio guests/commentators are supposed to provide, not propaganda for the Premier League.

    For those who do not remember, Lalas referred to the Premier League as “inferior” in 2007. He was claiming it was inferior to La Liga and Serie A, where he played. He also stated that you could drop a helicopter of MLS players into England and not know the difference. Both opinions have validity and are worth discussion whether you agree with them or not.

    1. It’s invalid and stupid.

      MLS teams have trouble beating teams from El Salvador at full strength. They certainly can’t compete with the majority of the Premier League.

  2. Lalas like him or not gives a thoughtful comments. Is he pro-MLS, Yes, and he should be. I am a EPL fan, but it is almost dangerous for anyone to say a bad word about it to some people or certain media. Lalas had the courage to do it and he won’t be forgiven by some.

  3. I’m OK with Lalas having the opinions he has about the Premier League vs MLS, but it’s extremely rare when he makes a decent contribution to a telecast in my opinion. What he says is often very obvious and I don’t feel he adds much other than enthusiasm.

    The Gaffer

    1. couldn’t agree more, gaffer. too often I heard generalized cliche-“analysis.” for example, Berba’s miss shot that bounced…

      Question: if this is Rooney, is the ball in the back of the net?

      Lalas: if you’re Berbatov you’ve got to step up, that’s why they pay you the big bucks.

      Mustough (sp?): looks like Berbatov hit the ball too late. in training, him and rooney both put that away (laughs).

  4. Lalas just flat out talks too much. The problem for me is that if you haven’t included him all season long, he lacks credibility within the broadcast when he just randomly appears for this big game.

    Secondly, I just don’t know what he actually provides as far as analysis is concerned, and whenever he tries to do so, I roll my eyes thinking that I wish I was getting better analysis from someone who I trust.

    I know Kartik will say he has his opinions and so on…but if I change the channel for the entire halftime to listen to music because it’s much better than what I’m getting on TV, isn’t that a problem for a network?

  5. Not a big Lalas fan. He often displays a certain arrogance & know it all attitude that I hate. Almost like “I played in Serie A, you should kiss my boots.”

  6. Lalas’s astute comments about Man U’s front line playing too deep aside. He is usually about as useful in the studio as he was in the front office. Plus, the man was a novelty player as far as I’m concerned.

  7. Why “dumb” down the EPL with an American accent? We all know Brits are the only ones who know anything about the beautiful game? Since the UK has taken over the announcing at all the World Cup matches, the Americans should take over the EPL broadcasts lol.

  8. Like many football commentators in the US, his opinions and observations lack depth and nuance – especially as they relate to the EPL and other national teams. I agree that he is qualified re: MLS. It is irritating to have the beautiful production quality of early games on ESPN2, then cut to the studio to listen to the banalities of an ex-player unqualified for the task. ESPN can do better, and they should cut ties with the guys that are more caricatures than reporters and move in a more professional direction.

    1. It sounded like it was Martin Tyler. Earlier in the ESPN broadcast I could swear I heard his voice in the background. I can find out for sure later Seren, but I don’t want to take my eyes off the game too much right now.

      The Gaffer

    1. No one hated on anything ESPN did. We brought up the inclusion of Lalas. Everything else they did was excellent. Learn to read sometime soon please.

      1. MB, I agree. ESPN’s production today was exceptional and they show why they have the best production value of a Premier League game in the States. And HD helps a lot.

        I’m not a big fan of Lalas. He’s too cocky for me, but otherwise a great day for ESPN and hopefully the match won over some new fans to the sport in the US.

        The Gaffer

        1. “….hopefully the match won over some new fans to the sport in the US.”

          Well, one can always hope, but for the casual viewer I don’t think it was a particularly good example of the beautiful game at its best. Other than the fact that it was a big match I didn’t think there was much in it.

          1. True Oval, but it’s wasn’t too bad. It definitely was one that held the viewer’s attention. Cole’s back flick was a beauty. Other than that, there wasn’t many flashy skills on display, but the game was played at a good pace.

            The Gaffer

  9. Deserved victory for Chelsea even if their second goal was dubious. United were very poor in the first half and were, as a result, always playing from behind.

    I personally welcome the media awarding the title to Chelsea right now. They’ve got a couple of banana skins left and it’s easy to see them dropping points during the run-in. So give them the title now. The Reds will be waiting for them to slip up.

    As for Lalas…the Gaffer nailed it. And it has nothing to do with nationality. He’s just not very insightful. Or interesting, for that matter.

  10. Can’t play in “away game mode” for 60 minutes at home. In the end, we should have come at them with more instead of sitting back as long as we did.

    Seventh loss. Not good…

    That said, a less-than-stellar performance and it still took a shocking blunder from the Lino in order for Chelsea to take the points. Chelsea do not convince me. Plenty still to play for.

  11. Maybe Arsenal should file a complaint with the EPL against Manchester for fielding a “weakened” team ahead of an important European tie. Oops, I forgot, that rule is only for “the lesser teams.”
    I love Giggs to death but with Valencia on the pitch, maybe Nani would’ve been a better option to start. Hind sight of course.

    1. Arsenal should just be counting their lucky stars that because they whine so much they somehow got a random RED CARD called on Karl Henry today and five extra minutes with which to beat a hard-working Wolves side in the final minute to keep them in the race. They were so poor today, they whine and bitch whenever anyone gets tackled now so much that for some reason a player without such a card ever got one without warning for nothing.

  12. Chelasea were worthy winners today because they played extremely well in the first half and United didn’t look like they were going to get anything from the game. The second half saw a better performance from United but overall I thought Chelsea were deserving winners. Not surprisingly they looked fresher. I still think the officiating in the EPL is very poor. Anelka deserved a penalty for being pushed over by Gary Neville and Drogba’s goal was clearly offside.

    This result and Arsenal’s win makes the title race even more interesting. I still think each of these teams will drop points so it is going to be an exciting finish. Both the title race and the battle for 4th could well be decided only on the last day. You couldn’t ask for anything more. This has been one of the closest title races in a while with 3 teams in the mix.

    1. The officiating in the EPL isnt poor Mike Dean is one of the worst referees in the world it is amazing he still has a job.

      He took the match apart by denying three certain penalties and the third official gave a goal that was obviously offside.

      Either way Manchester United were simply crap today. They used the mistakes of the Chelsea defense to set up lobs, throughballs and crosses but out of 5 good chances there was a proper finish at the back of one goal. It’s got to be worrying for Sir Alex Ferguson they are playing like a first division team its mind boggling whats gone wrong.

      1. Talkin crap yet again Tyson. Have you forgot that Macheda clearly pushed UTD’s goal in with his arm or do you just have a selective memory? and what are these certain penalties Dean missed? Surly not when Lampard clearly clears the ball from Berberflop or when Park throws him self theatrically to the floor, but there was one that was a certainty but it wasn’t for the Reds. UTD were beaten fair and square by the better team end of, have some grace man!

  13. First of all Peter Drury gets many big matches per year on ITV as well as the world feed so I don’t think it’s a rarity.

    Secondly the officials were diabolical. Second goal shouldn’t have counted and technically the 3rd one shouldn’t have either.

    Now one more defeat for Manchester United and it’s over. This midfield needs a major revamp. I did however predict Macheda would score in this game. 😉

  14. “This midfield needs a major revamp.”

    Couldn’t agree more. There was just nothing happening there today.

    Man Utd weak or just Chelsea strong?

    1. Yeah, your right, they would put it up for about 2 minutes every 15 minutes.I think they are listening now….

  15. While I agree that Lalas can be irritating, surely he was a huge improvement on the odious Tommy Smyth who knows even less about the game than Alexi. Smyth’s every comment is obvious and cliched and its a relief to know that he has been banished to ESPN radio for the World Cup.

  16. I thought Lalas did a fine job. He is as insightful as any of the other commentators.. Soccer and all sports are a cliche…not rocket science…soccer. Truly, how deeeeep can analyze a bad tackle…pass…etc.?

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