At times it wasn’t pretty, at times a bit frantic, but Chelsea walk away from Old Trafford with a point as the result ended 1-1 with Manchester United. It was far from our best performance, and we relied on a bit of luck with to get the result, but combined with Arsenal’s shocking 3-0 defeat earlier we can consider this a successful Sunday.
Former Chelsea fan favourite Juan Mata opened up the scoring for Manchester United, before Marcos Alonso pounced on a mistake by David de Gea to level the game, as both sides share the spoils. This result pretty much ends Manchester United’s top four hopes, as Chelsea look in control of the situation now.
Don’t hold your breath though.
First Half – Outfought in every department
The first half performance was typical of what we have been seeing from Chelsea all season. We allowed Manchester United so much space, time on the ball, and when we had the possession, there was no bite, as United snuffed out everything we tried to do.
Eden Hazard looked our only threat as Gonzalo Higuain was a disinterested statue. Manchester United have been dreadful for a couple of months now, but it doesn’t shock me that we made them look far better than what they are in the first half. Romelu Lukaku did his first ever intricate pass in a United shirt to as he played a part in Juan Mata’s goal for United inside the first 11 minutes, and we rode our luck not to go 2-0 down as the hosts had a good tempo.
As the game geared towards the half time interval, we were starting to look more dangerous, and we equalised when Anthony Rudiger’s long distance shot troubled De Gea who spilled it into Marcos Alonso’s path who converted. That goal deflated Manchester United, and gave us the confidence we needed to gather momentum in the match.
Second Half – Settle for a Point
Chelsea were far better in the 2nd half, and they managed to keep Manchester United at bay relatively easily. Aside from Marcos Rojo’s header which Pedro cleared off the line, I don’t recall Manchester United creating too many chances or piling on any type of pressure. We looked far more solid and had the chance to threaten more with the ball, but we lacked any final ball to get the three points.
Our greatest chance was in the final minute of the game, when Higuain was put through but unable to dink the keeper, as we settled for a point we just about deserved. Other key moments in the 2nd half saw Anthony Rudiger, who came back from an injury, go off due to another injury which puts him in doubt for the Europa League match next week. United should have been reduced to 10 players as Marcos Rojo blatantly went into a challenge with his studs up on Willian, but got away with just a yellow card.
Injuries from both sides, and a more compact performance from us, made the 2nd half perhaps less entertaining for the neutral, but we must be delighted that we walk away from a top 6 ground with at least a point. A top four place is certainly in our hands now.
Next, we travel to Germany to face Eintracht Frankfurt in the first leg of our Europa League semi-final as we aim to reach a 3rd European final in seven years. Unlike my feelings after the Burnley game, I don’t believe that our only hope for Champions League football is to win Europa League now.
Thankfully, we are in touching distance of guaranteeing a top four spot in the league, due to Arsenal’s meltdown. Our next league game is Watford next Sunday. Let’s not mess this up now.
Come on Chelsea!