Manchester United 0-1 Chelsea: Credit Rafa on a big win for Chelsea!
What a massive result yesterday was at Old Trafford. It was a game Chelsea had to at least take a...
What a massive result yesterday was at Old Trafford. It was a game Chelsea had to at least take a point from and couldn't afford to lose if we were to realistically have a hope of Champions League qualification by finishing inside the top four.
I had said previous to the game that we needed big performances from our big players, it was games like these yesterday that define a season. After disappointment in so many competitions this term, with the addition of the bonus of the Europa League final, our priority has to be a top four finish to ensure the future of our football club.
We sit here less than 24 hours later, back in third above the Arsenal with a three point gap to Tottenham with a far superior goal difference of sixteen goals in fifth. This means that if we avoid defeat against Tottenham on Wednesday, a top four finish is more or less certain.
Back to the game yesterday and what a performance! You have to credit Rafa Benitez for the way he set the team up to counter United. No one expected Frank Lampard to start his second game in the space of a week but he did alongside Ramires who once again played a key role in another massive game.
David Luiz reverted back to central defence alongside Branislav Ivanovic with Cesar Azpilicueta at right back and Ashley Cole returning at left back. Ashley Cole looked to get caught a few times by Valencia at the beginning of the game but settled down soon afterwards. Azpilicueta had another solid game at right back and has been one of this seasons success stories for me.
Branislav Ivanovic had a great game and looked solid all day. He was there making important tackles, blocks and headers and it was also good to see him give David Luiz a bollocking in the second half for getting caught out of position.
As for David Luiz, what can you say. He is getting battered by the press for his reaction to the kick from Raphael and so what? I do agree however with the fact that he has this tendency to barge into people when he has a coming together with them and you can see why his opponent kicked him.
So he was on the floor smiling? Who cares! What do you not see is the fact that he was right in front of the United fans in that corner and we didn't see the reaction he was getting from them did we? It was more than likely he was getting a barrage of abuse so decided to mock them by smiling.
Referring to his football and performance it was good for the most part. Once or twice he was caught out of position but credit to the other defenders, they came round on the cover and sniffed out danger.
I thought Frank Lampard had a decent but quiet game. He had a half chance on the half volley under pressure but couldn't keep the ball down but spent most of the game picking his passes and helping out his defence!
Victor Moses did OK in the game, he blasted a chance he had in the first half high over the bar but played OK. Oscar was pretty much the same and also had a chance that forced the keeper into a good save pushing the ball against the post before he collected it at the second attempt.
Juan Mata was as usual influential in the game. Always probing and trying to create, he caused United problems all game and it was no surprise that he stepped up when we needed him to again.
For me Demba Ba always looked tired doesn't he. A couple of times he was in good positions but for a cross played in too high to him or for a complete air shot inside the box, never looked like causing Vidic and Evans too many problems.
Ramires had a good game once again. His stamina is unreal and even in injury time he his busting a gut to get up the pitch, chasing a ball down to try and put United under pressure. It was Ramires' tenacity that led to the Chelsea goal.
With Rooney in possession of the ball around 25 yards out and looking to come at the Chelsea defence, Ramires tracked back, and nicked the ball away from him just as Rooney was about to shoot. Rooney clipped the back of Ramires' leg and went down claiming a foul but replays showed the brilliant Brazilian had won the ball cleanly. With that, Chelsea were off on the counter attack!.
Now, before I get to the goal the build up pretty much summed up the whole game. Both teams gave the ball away to each other before Juan Mata clipped the ball into Ramires in space. That had been the story of the game and it wasn't a classic by any means.
Yes United were off their game and looked a shadow of themselves. Fergie rang the changes and you would have to argue being a supporter in North London that he didn't do them any favours at all but they did create a couple of decent chances that were not converted.
Robin Van Persie clipped a ball past the post from a great defence splitting pass from Ryan Giggs and then headed straight at Petr Cech from a Vidic cross in the first half. United could and should have done better when they managed to get in behind Chelsea in the second half but wasted possession to many times and their supporters had to have been frustrated.
Back to the goal and it was pleasing to see for obvious reasons. The fact we scored right at the death was a massive bonus and the "Magic Man Mata" stepped up once again! After the ball was given away by both sides, Mata clipped the ball through to Ramires in plenty of space and it looked like he was about to pull the trigger from 25 yards out. He didn't, he held onto the ball too long and was closed down.
Spotting that Ramires was moving with the ball away from goal and away from danger, Oscar moved inside from wide right and Ramires rolled the ball backwards to him, Oscar looking up and seeing that Juan Mata had joined Fernando Torres at the back post, played a pass into Mata. He took a touch and shot low down towards the far post for the ball to be deflected off of the inside of Phil Jones' leg and into the bottom corner to win it for Chelsea!
It was a massive result for the club and a great performance. Some will argue United were below par but that doesn't matter. You still need to go out there and win the game and we did exactly that when it was needed more than ever.
Before the FC Basel game I said last week that we had three cup finals in the space of a week. To his credit Rafa Benitez has delivered two wins from two and we now focus all our attention on Tottenham on Wednesday. He has set us up to achieve what has been asked of him and once again credit to him for the way he set Chelsea up as a team yesterday.
The question is, can he set the team up once again on Wednesday night to deliver the third and final result to ensure a top four finish? Only time will tell!
Carefree & KTBFFH!