An incorrect match-defining decision was witnessed at Stamford Bridge on Sunday which likely had a huge impact on the result. Manchester United only won the game 3-2 but if Fernando Torres has been sent off for kicking Tom Cleverley in the chest in the first half, when Chelsea were still losing 2-1, who knows how many goals United would have won by…
Last night the two teams faced each other again. Whilst Chelsea resorted to playing the likes of Petr Cech, Juan Mata, David Luiz, John Obi Mikel, Oscar, Eden Hazard and Ramires, United played a team of second string players and youth. In fact, the only player to remain from Sunday’s first choice line up was Rafael Da Silva.
“We wanted to show that Sunday’s game was really heavily influenced by the officials,” Roberto Di Matteo said after the game.
How? By fielding almost your strongest team to scrape a 5-4 victory against United’s fringe players and kids? United took the lead three times against Chelsea, before bringing on the likes of Nick Powell (18), Ryan Tunnicliffe (19) and Federico Macheda (21). In response, Di Matteo brought on £75m worth of talent off the bench. Chelsea played 7 of their best available 11 players last night but still needed an inexperienced kid to give away an injury time penalty to win the game. Yeh, Di Matteo showed us alright.
He also said: ”We just want to be treated fairly by everybody. Nobody is talking about the handball in the second half when we should have had a penalty.”
Michael Keane was as guilty of giving away a penalty as David Luiz was on Sunday, and nobody is talking about that either. For it to be a penalty, the player has to be judged as “deliberately” blocking the ball with their hand, so for me, the officials made the right decision in both instances. Both Keane and Luiz handled the ball when their arm was not glued to their side but they didn’t move their hand towards the ball, they just didn’t get it out of the way quickly enough. Was Di Matteo complaining about that decision on Sunday though? It’s all very petty.
Regardless, whilst it’s always nice to go on a good cup run, particularly when you know we would have faced Leeds in the next round, the League Cup provided United with exactly what Ferguson wants from this competition. Scott Wootton and Michael Keane, who were both outstanding for 89 minutes, learnt more last night than they probably have all season in the Reserves. Daniel Sturridge didn’t get a kick until extra time which is a credit to our youngsters, who had a total of 190 minutes of first team football between them before last night. Powell put in a competent performance and forced a great save from Cech moments after coming on. Fancy being a teenager and getting to test yourself against such a strong side? It is invaluable experience for them.
The game also gave Anderson the chance to shine, with him assisting all three of our goals in normal time, which is an opportunity he hasn’t been afforded with the first team yet this season. Ryan Giggs also put in his best performance of the season and scored two goals, ensuring he has scored in all of the 23 seasons he’s been at United. Finally, Chicharito scored his 6th goal in 9 games against Chelsea, and his 5th goal from 11 games this season. He has been 4th in pecking order up front this season but is certainly giving Ferguson something to think about when choosing which strikers to start.
Now all these things are worth noting, but the biggest highlight is that whilst 7 players from our title rivals were slogging it out for up to two hours midweek, our starting XI for Arsenal at the weekend (with the exception of Rafael) had their feet up. Following a tough game last Sunday at Stamford Bridge, it’s a huge bonus that we’ve been able to rest up. Roll on Saturday…
Made in Manchester is available for just £5. It includes 30 articles from the country's best football writers about graduates from the Manchester United academy. Everyone who buys a copy enters a competition to win the new home shirt. All profit goes to Trafford Macmillan so please support this fantastic cause.