A cagey game saw Chelsea win 1-0, with a goal scored against the run of play from Eden Hazard in the 38th minute. Some say John Terry fouled Radamel Falcao in the run up to the goal, maybe he did but to be fair to the referee, it wasn’t blatant. It’s goals like this which show a team who’s going to win the league. Chelsea didn’t play well and were there for the taking should United had posed any decent threat upfront. After the Chelsea goal, I couldn’t envisage a Manchester United equaliser. John Terry and Gary Cahill, never looked seriously threatened by United’s forward line. Prior to that, United’s best chance came from a Luke Shaw cross, which fed Wayne Rooney sixteen yards from goal in the 3rd minute. Rooney calmly sidefooted the ball high into the stanchion of the side netting. The ripple of the net deceived the travelling reds in the Shed End and David de Gea, into thinking United had scored.
It was no great surprise United lost this match. Chelsea have had the look of champions all season and while United have played very well recently, the injury list acquired during last Sunday’s win against Manchester City forced Louis van Gaal into making significant changes. Due to Michael Carrick’s injury, Wayne Rooney had to drop deeper and Radamel Falcao had to step into Rooney’s position. Daley Blind was also ruled out on Friday. According to van Gaal, Blind’s injury came from Vincent Kompany’s uncharacteristic foul on him last week. This meant that Shaw came back into the United side for the first time since the FA Cup match against Arsenal in early March. Shaw had in my opinion, his best match in a United shirt, even if he was far from being match fit.
Playing for Atletico Madrid, Radamel Falcao destroys Chelsea in the European Super Cup final at the Stade Louis II in August 2012
The performance of Falcao was a sad and painful reminder that he just can’t cut it at the very top level anymore. John Terry may be no spring chicken but he had Falcao’s measure and United never really looked like scoring with the Colombian leading the line. Such was the desperation, that Ander Herrera was correctly booked by referee Mike Dean deep in injury time, for a dive that was an embarrassment to the United shirt when trying to win a penalty.
As good as John Terry was today though, we can always remember this
At the beginning of the season, United let in four at Milton Keynes, five against a feisty pub side from Leicester and dropped numerous other stupid points on the way. By February, people, some of them who should know a lot better, were questioning the positive effect that van Gaal’s stewardship was having on United. Around that time, we had the bizarre dossier incident involving Sam Allardyce. which strengthened the doubts then suddenly, against Arsenal in the FA cup, we got a glimpse of light in the tunnel, even if United did lose on the night. After the Arsenal game, United went on to beat Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and City (amongst others). With 70% possession and a bit more bite upfront, United could’ve won today. Ultimately, United lost to a team that are going to be worthy champions. Looking at today’s game, there’s plenty to look forward to next season, plenty of reasons to be cheerful.
Thought United done us proud today. Jose killed it towards the end, but he’s going for a title, you expect that. Next season is game on. — John Ludden (@JOHNLUDDS) April 18, 2015