Old habits die hard, and Manchester United could pay a heavier price than the defeat against Chelsea tonight, as the Red Devils, despite a very good first half, had to bow out in front of the Blues’ spirit, and also lost Vidic to a red card in the final minutes, which weakens the defense some more as they prepare to face Liverpool at Anfield Road on Sunday. Tonight’s defeat also puts Arsenal back in the challenge to win the title, as they trail by only 4 points, and have a game in hand, and any mistake from Manchester United will see them climb to the first place, and believe me the Gunners will be hard to bring down if they do get to the 1st spot, and not forgetting that United will have to visit them as well soon.
The match started with great pace, and Chelsea were the ones to threaten early on, as Malouda had a shot on target, but easily gathered by Van Der Sar. United broke at the other end, and Nani saw his shot bounce off Terry, nearly resulting in a handball from the latter. The match looked lively as again Chelsea had a chance thru Essien, while at the other end Evra’s cross was narrowly missed by Rooney. United slowly took control of the midfield possession, and eventually, Rooney found the back of the net on the 29th minute, as he collected Nani’s pass, then unleashed a 25 yards shot past Cech. However United were given a first scare on the 39th minute as they dropped back (old habits :P), and Ivanovic saw his shot miraculously saved by the contribution of Van Der Sar and Vidic to hold on to the 1-goal lead for United.
The second half however was all Chelsea’s. The Blues pinned United back as they looked for the equalizer, and it eventually came thru David Luiz on the 53rd minute, following some defensive mix-up by United, and Luiz took full opportunity of Evra’s misplacement to crash home the equalizer, although this time Van Der Sar could have done better if he had moved some paces to his left to block the angle. Rooney then wasted a chance at the other end, as he tried to curve the ball towards goal, instead of trying a pass to Chicharito and Fletcher, both with spaces in the box. But the game took a twist of fate, as United looked to hold on for the draw, only for Smalling to bring down Zhirkov in the box, and Lampard dispatched neatly the resulting penalty to give the Blues the lead on the 78th minute, a lead which was kept till full-time, while Vidic was sent off for a second yellow after hauling down Ramires, thus the Serb will miss the game against Liverpool on Sunday, and his stupidity might have well sunk United for good, as the defense is not that solid so far, and without him it will be more weakened.
Once again I think Sir Alex does not have a plan B, as despite sending on Giggs, Berbatov and Fabio, United still did not manage to threaten Chelsea in the second half, and kept the same shape on the field, and I think, personal opinion here, that he should step down at the end of the season, as he’s failing to attract big names to the club, sticking with the US dudes while the fans want them out, and also there’s no real change in his game plan when United are under pressure, just like today, where Chelsea upped the tempo, and instead of countering that, United just dropped further back and in the end conceded again to lose the match. The loss of today will have Arsene Wenger rubbing his hands in glee, as his team lies only 4 points behind now, with a game in hand, and United will surely lose points in the coming games, Liverpool will be a very tough one, and another defeat it seems is looming for the Red Devils, and if Arsenal take full opportunities of their remaining games, they could be the ones ending champions of the Premier League.