Chelsea’s win over Manchester United last night was, from a points perspective, the worst possible result for Arsenal fans. It means Chelsea are 5 points clear at the top with Arsenal tied on points with United in second although we of course have a game in hand. Assuming we win that we will be just two points from top with United a further three behind.
Although I was initially quite frustrated with the result (and unashamedly cheering for a United equaliser towards the end!) I have to say I’m not too concerned. Assuming we beat Sunderland in a fortnight’s time the match-up with Chelsea at The Emirates at the end of November is looming as a pivotal clash. Win that and we’ll essentially go top, lose it and there will be much work to do.
Chelsea & United Performances
Chelsea may have won the match through a John Terry header fairly late on but in truth I think they were a little fortunate to take all three points. Nicolas Anelka had a brilliant game and their defence was solid throughout but aside from the goal United made most of the best chances and played the better football.
As much as I hate to admit it I was particularly impressed with Wayne Rooney’s peformance, he has an uncanny ability to fine space for a shot and worked his socks off for the entire game. Antonio Valencia looked decent without ever really having a big impact on the game while for Chelsea the aforementioned Anelka and Michael Essien were the standouts.
Unsurprisingly for a game of this magnitude the referee played a huge part in the result.
While I don’t agree with Sir Alex Ferguson that the free-kick for Chelsea’s goal shouldn’t have been given the offside given against Rooney early on denied him a clear 1-on-1 and a huge opportunity to influence the outcome of the game. I also thought Valencia was pulled down unfairly by Terry later on the half although I think it would have been a very harsh penalty to award.
I thought the referee’s performance in the second half was a lot better and I have to say I’m a little bemused with Ferguson’s post-game rants. Didier Drogba rightly deserved a yellow card for charging into Jonny Evans even though the United man also should have been cautioned for sticking his boot into the Chelsea striker’s ribs.
Ferguson was furious with the awarding of the goal – claiming that Wes Brown was pulled down by Drogba – but for me that sort of thing happens all the time in the box and there wasn’t too much in it.
Despite United being the better side the toothless nature of their attack should encourage Arsenal fans. United seem to be relying too much on Rooney and although the midfield is full of hard workers the likes of Michael Carrick, Darren Fletcher and Anderson lack the creativity of Alex Song, Cesc Fabregas and Abou Diaby for example. They are still undoubtedly a good football team but a failure to score against both Liverpool and Chelsea will be worrying and it wouldn’t be surprising to see them finish out of the top two the season.
Meanwhile Chelsea look like the real deal. They may not have been as strong as United over the 90 minutes but in Anelka and Drogba they have two superb strikers and defensively the team is stacked with experience and quality. Personally I see them as Arsenal’s biggest threat to the title, although there is still certainly a long, long way to go.
Have your say on Chelsea v United by leaving a comment.