Man.utd closed to within a point of the leaders with their first victory at Stamford Bridge in a decade. This season the BPL continues to surprise to the upside and this game more than lived up to its much anticipated billing, at least until it became a “no contest” due to a refereeing performance for the ages.
Mark Clattenberg required a police escort down the King’s Road as rumors surfaced that due to getting in trouble again with a Malaysian gambling syndicate , he had a Double or Nothing bet with them that not only would Man Utd win but that Chelsea would have more players on the bench than on the field at full time. Two harsh sending offs and the winning goal being scored from an offside position meant that the Manchester coach headed back up the M1/M6 with all three points when half way thru the 2nd half Sir Alex would have been happy to hang on for one.
Man.Utd , having set out an attacking stall , sprinted into a deserved 2 nothing lead within 13 minutes thru a David Luis own goal and a whopper of a first time strike by Van Persie . United were rampant and it felt like a third Manchester goal was more likely than Chelsea being able to reduce the current deficit. The Blues appeared slow out the traps seemingly not having recovered from their Ukrainian spanking in midweek and on the bounce defeats looked odds on. A displeased JT was looking on from the stands , as the Cahill / Luis partnership at the centre of Chelsea’s defense felt shaky for the first time this season. Man.U were making the most of an unusually vulnerable left hand side with a Rooney/Valencia combination looking likely to set up a score at every turn as they toyed with Ashley Cole for most of the first half.
But as we have seen this season Chelsea would not lie down without a fight and began to get their passing rhythm back toward the latter stages of the first half. Regaining control of the midfield Mikel ,Oscar and Ramires soon had Manchester on the retreat protecting the 2 nil scoreline . Although now dominating Chelsea still couldn’t create the finishing touch required to get on the scoresheet. De Gea had an excellent game making a couple of world class saves , generally with his feet , keeping his team in the comfort zone. Torres continues to disappoint with a first (make that second and third too) touch that would looked more at home in the Bedford Van League , or whatever it used to be called. With 10 minutes to go till half-time Chelsea really turned the heat up laying siege to the United goal. They got their just reward when Mata managed to curl an unstoppable free kick past a wall looked like it had 30 people in it. The teams headed into the half time break both feeling like they had played well so far.
Chelsea now lifted by the home crowd , who had recovered from their earlier state of shock , started the second half as they had finished the first. By the 53rd minute they were level when after some skilful to and fro-ing in front of the United back line, Ramires finished off a great move with a downward header that gave De Gea no chance. At this point with so much of the game to go , “I’ll take a draw” was nowhere to be heard from Mathew Harding Stand faithful. Enter Mr. Klattenberg with a Pre- Christmas Panto warm up performance ……. Certainly there was contact from Ivanovich on Young and it would have , in all likelihood , led to a goal scoring opportunity ….but it did appear that Ivan the terrible was trying to get out the way. Referees need to understand they are responsible for keeping control but more importantly encourage a spectacle to occur . Mr .Clattenberg managed to spoil the game without taking any advantage of his creative license , this seems to be becoming a regular occurrence in games of this magnitude. It wasn’t long before the villain of the piece sent Torres off for a second bookable offence , diving , even though the replays showed contact …… no excuses really considering the Ref was about three feet from the number 9 when this happened. Ironically RMD was left berating the 4th official (not be outdone) because he had been trying to substitute Torres for Sturridge for the previous couple of minutes!….. It was now only a question of “when” would United put the game to bed. The icing on the cake came when Hernandez got the winner by returning to the play from inside Chelsea’s net …. Undeniably offside.
This result tightens the Top of the table and keeps the neutrals happy ….Chelsea will feel hard done by , but going 2 down early at home rarely ends well. Manchester Fans will continue to feel that their team is missing something special , yet they keep getting the results…… mmmm ..ingredients for many a Championship winning side.
Off to hunker down from Hurricane Sandy ……