I often have a rant against the press and today is no different. Reading the rags this morning would have you believe that Chelsea were on the rack and had it not been for Luiz avoiding a red card we would have never won the match.
Infuriatingly they seem to be jumping on the coat-tails of Alex Ferguson and in full agreement with his post-match outrage at a poor refereeing performance. Although in history, and yesterday included, he has been the benefactor of so many shoddy decisions.
The red faced one, whether angry or indifferent (happy doesn’t come into his small spectrum of emotions), needs to focus more on the fact that for a full 45 minutes of football his team were fought out of a game – something no other team has really achieved this season.
Chelsea were fantastic in the second half, and not too bad for glimpses of the first. Not at one point in the game were we on the rack, Rooney’s goal came at their most dominant period of play and they did well to capitalise on that. Rooney’s goal was very well taken too, but defensively we were a bit weak for it.
Asides from that period I don’t think anybody could honestly say that Man United were dominant – as has been suggested within the game and within the press.
Something that isn’t being touched upon enough for me is the substitutions made by Ancelotti that injected some much needed freshness into the game, injuries and lack of squad depth have previously limited his options in this respect.
So the signings of Luiz and Torres for all their fanfare with regards to their technical ability as players should rather be looked upon as a major boon when being able to mix things up a bit.
Zhirkov came off the bench and threatened, it was a top quality substitution. We had got to a point in the game where a draw wasn’t inconceivable and in my heart-of-hearts wouldn’t have been a terrible result. The addition of Zhirkov shored up the defence if needed, but his energy and pace allowed us to actually become a more dangerous prospect up the other end of the pitch.
Having Drogba then come off the bench to cause more attacking threat and we all of a sudden have gone from a team with no Plan B (cliché copyrighted from Scolari era) to having a dangerous arsenal of game changers waiting in the wings.
The substitution of Luiz was also a spot on decision, pushing Ivanovic into his preferred position of centre back once again a possibility we wouldn’t have been able to exploit before January 31st.
Torres deserves a lot of praise for his ever increasing performances for us, yesterday he was a terror and you could see in the way United had three men marking him that he is a major threat.
He was the embodiment of the whole team yesterday; there was an added sense of passion. Infuriating that it may be when a whole team shows something they’ve been missing for months just in the big games – but the same can be said for us fans. We all perform differently when the magnitude of the game is so much higher.
Michael Essien also showed us that his form is just a blip, something we needed to see just to be reassured. He actually did his job just as he used to. Worrying signs from Lampard, who credit where due dispatched his penalty with aplomb, and Malouda seemingly carrying on where they left off. The threat from those two was instrumental in the double win last season, it unfortunately seems like they left that form in 2010.
However asides from those slight negatives, we have a lot to be excited about. This is certainly the sort of result that acts as a catalyst to a brighter end to the season. It allows us, the fans, and them, the players, to remember that the quality is there, the capability is there and thankfully the passion is still there.
It is that sort of result that should spur us on to greater things for this season, we still have the added fact that Torres is still to find his scoring boots. Surely that will happen sooner rather than later, and that in Luiz we have the Carvalho replacement that never came in the summer.
So let’s hope that the regained smiles we were given on Tuesday night can remain.
Keep The Blue Flag Flying High!
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