1. It’s not often we’ll beat Chelsea 3-1 and still feel like we did at the final whistle. Don’t get me wrong, I’m delighted with the result and don’t want to come across as too much of a brat, but it wasn’t an enjoyable second half. After thrashing them in the first half we seemed to lose the plot in the second. Fortunately, when we were on top, we scored three goals, compared to just the one goal they managed when looking the better side. On a different day, it could have been a different result, but you can never complain too much about picking up three points against your title rivals.
2. We started the game so well. The Chelsea backline had no idea where Chris Smalling was when he flew on to the end of Ashley Young’s freekick to put us 1-0 up. Replays showed he was marginally offside but not a single Chelsea defender appealed for it. They were nowhere near him. Four of our five at the back were 23-years-old or younger and I can only imagine how much confidence they’re gaining week on week.
3. Phil Jones, the youngest of the lot, was solid defensively, yet again, and added to our attack, yet again. That burst forward for our third goal was spot on and you can hardly believe the lad is only 19. He’s a kid and already showing you could trust him to play pretty much anywhere.
4. Fernando Torres has become a comical feature of United vs Chelsea games over the past two seasons and he didn’t disappoint yesterday. It’s as if he replaces his football boots with clown shoes in anticipation for our matches. Overhead kicks miles wide, losing the ball with ease and misplaced passes. That’s why, after a dismal first half, I was fairly gutted to see him score a great goal seconds after the restart. This wasn’t in the script. Fortunately, he more than made up for it with two later misses. One was more forgiveable, as he blasted the ball over the bar under pressure from a few yards out. The other was one of the funniest things I’ve seen though, although I must add, I didn’t see it in the ground. Unable to bear watching Torres score again, I looked away once he rounded de Gea, only to hear a massive cheer a few minutes later. Incredible.
5. That wasn’t the only time we got to celebrate a non-goal though, when in the first half, de Gea responded brilliantly to the chants of “dodgy keeper” from the Chelsea fans. That sick feeling you get in your tummy, just before the opposition put the ball in the back of the net, was washed away when de Gea somehow managed to get on the end of a Ramires diving header. Another week, another good shift from our DdG.
6. Every week I feel more and more embarrassed for being so nonchalant over the Ashley Young signing. He is top quality and works so hard for the team. With a central midfield still massively lacking, the ability we have on both wings is our saving grace. Along with Nani, we’re pretty much unstoppable from wide positions and it’s so exciting to watch. Our Portuguese winger left Ashley Cole on his arse, as Ronaldo did many years before, and was a constant threat down that right wing. His finish for the goal was superb. Valencia will be wondering where he fits in now, although he did do well at right back. He is just ridiculously strong and shrugs off challenges with ease. Picking two from the three of them is a lovely problem to have though, although I’d leave Nani out of our Elland Road squad, as I’d quite like him to stay in one piece.
7. It’s hardly fair for me to laugh at Torres without mentioning Rooney’s penalty miss. Given the benefit of the replay it looks a lot better than first viewing but at the time I felt sick watching the ball fly out towards the corner flag. His head wasn’t in the game from that point on. He had the perfect opportunity to make amends late on when one on one with Cech, but opted to try and play in Berbatov, but his pass was sloppy and took the Bulgarian wide, giving Cole the opportunity to get back on the line.
8. It was nice seeing Berba back on the pitch and I was surprised he didn’t come on earlier, given how Chicharito had struggled to make his mark on the game. In 11 minutes, he made 14 passes, completing all of them, compared to the 17 Chicharito attempted, completing 15, in the previous 79 minutes. We needed someone who could help keep possession and obviously with hindsight, could have avoided that injury on our Mexican. The abuse he got from the away end when he was on the deck and then hobbling off the pitch was pathetic. I’m not expecting opposition fans to find him as adorable as we do but chants calling to “let him die” after he had been snapped by that vicious little cunt were unbelievable. It was also disappointing to hear Andre Villas-Boas try to defend the potential leg breaking challenge by claiming it possibly came from the frustration at the linesman missing earlier offside decisions. He probably wants to be his own man and not be compared to Jose Mourinho, but after classless remarks like that, it’s hard to separate them.
9. When the fixtures came out I looked at these first few games and wondered whether we would be some way behind come October. Spurs, Arsenal, Chelsea and Bolton away all had the potential to take points off us so I am thrilled we’ve come through unscathed so far. Sir Alex Ferguson has never started a season with United like this before and it really does bode well for the season ahead. Can you imagine being told before the season started we’d be on five wins out of five against those teams with no Vidic or Rio? It’s a great achievement. Long may it continue…