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.
This was always going to be a hard game. Chelsea haven’t lost a league match since a fixed odds-ruining home defeat against Sunderland on April 19th. Since then, they’ve beaten Liverpool at Anfield, Arsenal at Stamford Bridge and they should’ve beaten City away as well were it not for a gutsy fightback and a Frank Lampard goal.
Today was the same scenario. When you go a goal behind against a side managed by Jose Mourinho, as United did today, it’s an uphill struggle. Mourinho’s teams defend a lead with an efficiency reminiscent of Bob Paisley’s Liverpool sides.
38 minutes: Angel di Maria floats a free kick into the Scorebaoard End penalty which…
…goes harmlessly straight into the arms of Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois
Just in case anybody was getting too carried away after last weeks performance and result, this will calm down all those who were suddenly expecting a charge and challenge for the league. Whatever improvements occur over the next few months, title challenging sides don’t blow a 3-1 lead when beating a feisty pub side like Leicester City, no matter how unlucky the circumstances.
How it came to all this can be dissected by all but ultimately, it’s Louis van Gaal who is trusted to sort this out. After a sublime first sixteen minutes United were cruising with momentum gained from last weeks win against QPR. 2-0 up with a header from Robin Van Persie on 13 minutes and a brilliant chip from Angel di Maria three minutes later, Leicester looked lost and United looked like running riot. A minute later and Leonardo Ulloa was allowed a free header from five yards out with Jonny Evans and Rafael stood either side of him. Things calmed down for the remaining two thirds of the first half.
Watching Luis Suarez run away from the Gwladys Street end of Goodison Park in celebration deep into injury time after winning the game for Liverpool, seconds later I got a good feeling about today. For some reason, the goal was disallowed by the linesman in front of the Bullens Road stand and a crestfallen Suarez had to get on with the last few seconds of the game. This wasn’t the last controversial decision made by an official today.