Damn. Damn. Damn. This shouldn’t have ended this way. At 3-0 up, they had their tails behind their back and had no chance of coming back at the Bridge. No matter how much the media wants to call it a comeback, I wouldn’t call it so. It was not a ‘come-back’ by Man Utd, it was a ‘brought-back’ by Howard Webb. There’s no way Man Utd could have got anything in this match without the mercy of Howard Webb. As it always happens, they got lucky to the point of being scandalous. Back in Old Trafford, we dominated the game only to see two offside goals give them a big home lead. Now here, two non-penalties giving them the draw. They always get the loooooong rope from the referees. Actually, like with Barca, I’m tired of how they win with referee’s help. Same old.
Chelsea started with an attacking line-up. It showed that we were going to take the game to Man Utd and would be looking for nothing less than a win. I must say the quality of the game was disappointing. To call this a premier league classic only undermines premier league. Neither teams were able to make any meaningful attacks. Possession was lost very very cheaply. Not many clear cut chances. Horrible refereeing. The best moments of the game were Sturridge’s trickery for the first goal, Torres’ cross and Mata’s finish for the second goal, brilliant tackles by Ivanovic and Cahill and a very smart header from Hernandez.
Yet another game where Torres creates a beautiful goal rather than scoring one. He got one good chance which he fluffed by taking too many touches before losing the ball. His current confidence level is such that he needs to be 100% clear that his shot will make it, like he’s taking a penalty. He’s not in a frame of mind to take risks which one would do while in form. At least, his cross was one of the best we’ve seen from a Chelsea player this season. And Mata’s finish was sweet. Should be up there as one of the best Chelsea goals this season.
I thought Gary Cahill had a very good match. He was very aware of how the game moved and also of the movements of his colleagues. It’s not easy to get drafted in and debut at home against Man Utd and play with such ease. Well done. Malouda was in a very passive mode. He was involved in a few chances but if he’s playing this submissive role it takes all the bite off his contribution. I wanted him to play as aggressively as he plays plus good decision making and team work. He was very passive.
Petr Cech’s reputation for not being a penalty stopper didn’t improve. I don’t know what’s his penalty record. In all these years, I don’t remember seeing him stop a penalty. Yeah, there could have been one or two but you get the point. If I were AVB, I would have Cech practice penalty stopping hundreds of times before a Man Utd game because it’s certain that he’d have to face penalties. Our defending for the third goal was terrible. This small boy Hernandez has the reputation of being a poacher. He’s like Inzaghi. He’s a clever fox. You have all the defenders in the box and not one was marking him closely enough. That was terrible defending. We made light of referee’s work.
The one thing we did achieve clearly is to negate Man Utd’s wing attack. We covered the flanks well enough to stop Man Utd from attacking through the wings. Thanks to Malouda in particular. Later in the second half, Romeu came in to have his worst Chelsea game to date. Just don’t know what happened to him there but I’m sure he wants to forget this game for his contribution or the lack of it.
This is a game Chelsea should have won comfortably. I wasn’t fully sure even at 3-0 as I knew Man Utd would get a life line or two or three or four or five from the referees. If anyone says Howard Webb is the best referee in England, I’m gonna scream. Expect Fergie and the Man Utd fans to hail this as a great comeback. Expect media to talk about this being one of Man Utd’s legendary combacks and a possible hair dryer treatment in the second half which changed everything. Yup, there could have been a hair dryer moment in the second half. Fergie smashing Howard Webb’s head with a hair dryer in the half time. Yes, it seems to have done the trick.
We are now possibly 5 points below Spurs and 2 points above Newcastle. Still a very dangerous zone. A win here could have made things lot better. I haven’t yet come to terms that I need to be following the results and progress of Newcastle United.
AVB has been drawing a lot of flak of late. Thoughts ranging from ‘he’s still the best guy to manage us’ to ‘he’s out of his mind’. He’s under pressure and it shows. You can call certain decisions as a result of naivety. I’d call them as a result of pressure. At 3-0, he wanted to protect the lead. He didn’t want to take anymore risks. Instead of bringing Romeu for Sturridge, if he had brought on pacy Lukaku for less-effective Malouda, we could have made a statement. We might have pegged them back. Instead we allowed them to have the ball and invited pressure. I don’t think this was a naive decision by AVB. May be he thinks he’s not in a position to take risks. Exactly like Torres. Doesn’t quite realise when he can take risks and how much.
Remember, if Webb had not signed for Man Utd, AVB could have registered a big win against Fergie at a crucial point of time. I feel for AVB. His misfortune keeps mounting. But patience won’t. He spent the whole January buying a central defender and buying players that won’t be used by us this season. Now that, is a problem. Ignoring that we have issues in attack is a problem. For all our defensive fragilities, we have not conceded too many goals. It is our own lack of goals that’s hurting us. So to not buy an attacking midfielder or wingers and to send Josh on loan smacks me.
I’m still confident that we would make it to the third spot. I expect Spurs to lose their way and us to find ours. We enter the period where big teams play like big teams. This is the period where Chelsea always puts in amazing run of games and the pretenders lose the plot. Let’s see how the next few weeks go. Before I leave, let me tell you that a sub-standard Liverpool team finished fifth but won the champions league against all odds. Miracles do happen. KTBFFH!