Chelsea maintained their unbeaten start to this season with another solid performance against one of the top teams. The battle of Master vs Mentor ended with honors shared., as Van Gall and Mourinho caught up on old times. Never a bad result when visiting Old Trafford, although the manner of the earned point certainly left a sour taste in Jose’s mouth.
United equalized 3 minutes into injury time, with almost the last kick of the game, Late goals have been something sorely missing since the end of the Fergie era.
Although there is always a sliver lining, and West Ham having done us a favor over City yesterday, meant even with a draw, it saw us extend our lead over our main Premiership rivals to 6 points.
Chelsea have given up possible away wins at The Ethiad and Old Trafford in the dying embers of both games. This seasons Premiership title race could already have that “one Horse” look about it if we had managed to gather those extra 4 points.
But we all know, nothing comes easy in the EPL, and we all need to prepare for a long season that will to go to the last rounds.
Both teams played well in a physical but fair game. Phil Dowd handed out 10 cards, 9 of them yellow…….and 1 Red. The card count didn’t do justice to the spirit in which the game was played. Most of the bookings were for “professional” fouls, as both sides deeply respected their opponent’s ability to punish you on the break.
The red was given to Ivanovich for a second bookable offence. The Serb had a brain fart as he tripped Di Maria in a position that didn’t appear overthreatening down Chelsea’s right hand side with a minute of the game to play. The normally reliable Ivanovich would usually marshal an attacker into the corner from such a position. Today he became the villain of the piece.
Di Maria stepped up to take the free-kick. The whole Man Utd team crowded into the box as this was likely the last chance to get something from the game. Fellaini rose well to meet the cross. Courtois not for the first time today, made a super save from point-blank range. Although Chelsea’s luck ran out and the ball fell at the feet of Robin Van Perse, who made no mistake as he smashed it home.
RVP, celebrated as if he had just won the world cup final. It was a telling moment that a home draw against Chelsea meant that much to him and the other 70,000 wearing Red in Old Trafford. Mourinho turned in disgust as there is nothing he hates more in life than late goals….especially if the are scored against us!
The man of the match award, must go to Didier Drogba. The 36 year old Ivorian was removed from his formaldehyde capsule as injuries to Costa and Remy forced Mourinho into thrusting the old warhorse into the limelight. Drogba’s previous cameos this season had indicated there was not much left in the tank, and his role was more for dressing room experience than anything else. He proved everyone wrong today. commentators and Chelsea Fans alike may have to wait a little longer to write his footballing obituary. His hold up play and one touch football with the likes of Hazard and Oscar was superb. He looked a deserving member of the league’s top team.
Drogba’s goal in the 53rd minute was vintage. It had an eerily familiar feel to it. It was almost a carbon copy of the Champions League equalizer he scored in Munich on that famous night a few years ago. Peeling off the near post he rose above the rest to direct a rocket of a header goalbound, It whistled past Van Persie at the near post, pulling a handful of the Dutchman’s grey hairs out in its wake.
There were a number of great performances today on both sides. Matic continues to grow in stature as the hardest working holding midfielder around. John Terry has found the Fountain of Youth somewhere in the Cobham woods and Willian who seems never to have an off day, unsung for the most part.
United continue to improve, although defensively they still look fragile. De Gea keeps them in most games and that alone a Championship side will not make. Di Maria, Van Persie and Januzaj all looked sharp today, but for some reason Juan Mata is not being made the most of. The former Chelsea favourite seems to have lost the ability to play the defense splitting passes which were his signature at Stamford Bridge. He has caught Ray Wilkinsitis and perpendicular balls appear to be his new calling……. Hopefully this is just a short-term confidence related thing as it is sad to see a player of his creativity reduced to playing such negative football.
Taking a point from visits to the Top 4 teams will give a solid foundation to any Title aspiring team. So lets look at the positives and get 3 points from away games at the likes of Burnley and QPR instead.