1. Before the game I would have happily settled for a draw, given that Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea are title favourites and United, with a brand new manager, have been predicted to finish 3rd at best by the press. But leaving the ground, I was disappointed we hadn’t nicked a goal, after being the better and more ambitious team for most of the game. That’s not to say United’s approach was gung-ho, but we started the game with three strikers, whilst Chelsea started with none. Whilst United replaced like for like, replacing our wide players with other wide players, Mourinho brought on Mikel for Schuurle and Azpilicueta for Hazard. Still, we lost this fixture last season and don’t have a great record against Chelsea, so a draw was a decent enough result.
2. The pre-match focus was all on Wayne Rooney, with Mourinho trying to put pressure on David Moyes to leave the striker out, having previously promised to put in another bid for the striker after the game. After receiving a positive reaction from the away fans at Swansea, you had to wonder whether the home fans would be so generous. If anything, he received an even better response at Old Trafford, which was puzzling. I’m not suggesting we should boo our own players, but that would have made more sense than chanting his name and singing his song. Even stranger was the reaction of Chelsea fans, who also chanted his name and cheered him. Rooney went on to be named Man of the Match, with the away support showing our striker far more love than they did their own, with Torres largely ignored. I’m always waiting for Torres to suddenly rediscover some of his top form against us, but yet again he was absolutely awful. The performances of both strikers give a clue as to why Rooney was so well received, with Chelsea desperate to have a forward as skilled as our striker and United fans keen to make sure we keep a quality player.
3. Antonio Valencia was much improved in the first half but lost his way a bit in the second. The crowd are far too quick to get on his back though and with him clearly desperate to replicate his 2011/2012 form, even going as far as returning to the #25 shirt, you’d like to think our fans could be more supportive of him. Let’s not forget that Valencia got rid of his agent a couple of years ago as testament to his loyalty to the club and his desire to stay. It was his replacement, Ashley Young, who delivered the best two crosses of the evening, with United inches away from getting on the end of his great deliveries. Obviously it’s too soon to start predicting he will look like a player who is good enough to play for United, but it was pleasing to see the improvement in him.
4. It would be fair to praise the defensive efforts of our back four but if truth is told, they didn’t have an awful lot to deal with. Chelsea posed very little threat on the attack. David de Gea had a couple of saves to make, but Oscar repeatedly directed his shots straight at the keeper.
5. Tom Cleverley had a good game in the centre of the park with him clearly keen to hold on to his starting place in light of rumours of Fellaini signing. He hasn’t progressed at the rate most fans would be hoping from him and he hardly set the world alight on Monday, but he did put in a good shift and is rewarding the faith Moyes has shown in him so far.
6. It wouldn’t be a proper Atkinson ruled game without a controversial decision going in Chelsea’s favour. In the second half, Lampard blocked the ball with his arm at head height, but the ref waved play on. He also failed to book Ashley Cole for a shameful dive in the penalty area. Same ol’ shit from Atkinson.
7. Danny Welbeck probably had the best couple of chances in the game but he fluffed them. After taking that chip so well against Swansea, it was disappointing to see the finishing we’d become familiar with last season making a return. Having lost his place up front to Rooney, he really could have done with getting a big goal to give Moyes something to think about when making his choice on who to start in attack at Anfield.
8. We collected just the one point from our games against Swansea and Chelsea last season, so it’s reassuring to pick up four points from the same fixtures this season. It’s also reassuring to see that our main rivals for the title don’t really look anything special. That may change if they land a top striker before the close of the transfer window and it’s still early days but this United team, particularly if they sign a player or two before Monday, might end up surprising a few people this season. Fingers crossed.
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