Chelsea 1-1 Manchester United - Credit United but Chelsea create their own problems.
A late goal from Diego Costa produced a well earned point for Chelsea against a good Manchester U...
A late goal from Diego Costa produced a well earned point for Chelsea against a good Manchester United side this afternoon. However, I cannot help but feel that we continue to create problems for ourselves!
Guus Hiddink named the same starting eleven as he did against Watford in the week which raised plenty of eyebrows with Eden Hazard being left on the bench. As a result with Oscar playing wide left, we looked disjointed and lacked a natural balance to the side.
Manchester United started the game fantastically well and dominated for a good 20-25 minutes. The reason for that? Chelsea decided to sit ten yards deeper than they should be and this invited the visitors onto us. Why on earth we couldn't afford to step up ten yards higher and press United is beyond me and played into their hands.
Juan Mata was pulling the strings during that period and Chelsea at times were caught chasing shadows. But for Thibaut Courtois, Martial's shot that was heading for the top corner would have given United a well earned lead but the big Belgian made arguably the save of the season to deny him. At this point you would have to bet that United would score!
Think back to Arsenal away a couple of weeks ago and how we pushed up, pressed high and continued to win the ball back. By doing so, Cesc Fabregas was able to dictate the ball and our play the same way Juan Mata did here this afternoon. Both Mikel and Matic were far too deep and their became a huge gap between our midfield and Diego Costa.
What United did well here was that they saw how deep our starting positions were, pushed centre backs narrow onto Costa (one man marking and one on the cover) and this enabled BOTH their full backs to push forward on the overlap. As a result, our wide players had to try and have an influence on the game by tracking back with Oscar making two or three important tackles in the right back area.
It annoys the life out of me when you sit there watching the game play out, you can see what is happening meaning that everyone on the Chelsea bench can see what is happening but we do not react to it. Instead, we continue to play deep, to invite United onto us and concede possession. The good thing was that despite their possession and numerous corners in that first half, United could not capitalise and register on the scoreboard.
After that period of dominance from United, Chelsea got a grip of the game and started to pass the ball about. In fact, it was Chelsea's turn to dominate possession with United the team being forced backwards. Diego Costa's cross-shot went wide and Oscar's effort from close range flew over the bar before a Matic effort from a cross into the box was saved by the impressive De Gea.
So to the beginning of the second half and the exact same thing happens again! Chelsea sit ten yards too deep and United are encouraged to attack us.Guus makes his changes and Oscar comes off for Hazard and Chelsea look to take the game to United.
Then a horrible moment for Kurt Zouma. On halfway the ball is in the air and he jumps in front of two United players to win the header but as he lands, his right leg over extends and he is down and in agony - after five minutes he is stretchered off and Gary Cahill comes on.
If anything, Chelsea now dominate until the final whistle with glimpses of danger from United as Martial fires wide and Rooney's chip over Courtois flies over the bar. United are still a threat but Chelsea are now well in control as Hiddink makes his final change replacing Matic for Pedro.
Chelsea are moving the ball better and quicker. Time and time again we forced United backwards and win corners and free kicks but they come to nothing with it being down to good United defending or poor delivery but you get the sense a goal is coming.
David De Gea enhances his reputation even more making THREE excellent saves including ones to deny Costa and Fabregas with Costa also heading over the bar from close range. It's all Chelsea now as we press forward to get the goal we deserve and it comes as the Fabregas/Costa links provides us with what we crave once again.
Fabregas sees Costa and threads a pass through to open up the United defence. As the De Gea and a United defender come out to challenge Costa and block his first attempt, he is onto the rebound and slots the ball home into an empty net to make it 1-1 and as I say it's no more than we deserve!
Some will argue too little too late from Chelsea and I do understand it. We create our own problems and have done so here by inviting United onto us. Why do we continue to do it and then have to play catch up and why does Eden Hazard not start?
It was a good game and a well earned point but I see this as two points dropped and what little hope we clung onto for the top four now well and truly over!