Best Team Performance – Manchester United (Vs Chelsea)
Mark Clattenburg this, Mark Clattenburg that – fine, but what the Chelsea complaints have masked, is that this was a huge win and a very decent performance from Manchester United.
Straight from the kick-off, it was clear that United were in London to play, and their intent on the ball was in stark contrast to the way they’ve started recent games. Tottenham at home, Stoke at home, Braga at home? Alex Ferguson had obviously made it clear that a slow start was no acceptable yesterday, and his side responded.
Chelsea may point accusatory fingers at the officiating crew, but giving up a two-goal deficit inside twenty minutes was arguably more of an obstacle.
Robin van Persie was everything that he was purchased to be – deadly. If the chances that the Dutchman put away had fallen to Danny Welbeck, for example, then United don’t take the lead. He’s so important to this team. Previously in these games, all the focus used to be on Wayne Rooney, but the addition of the Dutchman takes away the option for sides to double-up on Rooney and crowd him out of games – van Persie is just as much of a threat, and the two of them in the same side create a ‘pick your poison’ scenario for opponents. Either pick up Rooney in deep midfield and give van Persie a single marker, or vice versa.
It’s very easy, when turmoil exists in a game as it did yesterday, for a side to get swayed from their game-plan. The howls of outrage, the baying of the crowd – United shut that out and put the game away without panicking. People seem to have forgotten, that the reason the home side were down to ten men in the first place was because they had been opened up ruthlessly and Branislav Ivanovic had been forced into hauling down Ashley Young. Red cards don’t asterisk games, they just decide them.
We had seen earlier in the day what giving-up a two goal lead can do to a side, as Everton temporarily run riot over a disorientated Liverpool – the away side were deservedly lauded for stabilising and leaving with a point. United deserve the same applause. Once Ramires equalised, it seemed inevitable that Chelsea would go on and win the game; but United settled, stopped the bleeding, and then constructed the move which sprung Young and changed the game.
The referee may well have provided the assist for this one, but don’t be fooled into thinking Chelsea got short-changed – defensive errors, lapses in concentration, and an inability to convert chances. Sides with those post-game notes aren’t usually winners.
Team of the week
Best Goal – Ivan Ramis (Vs West Ham)
Talk to a golfer, and he’ll tell you that hitting pure shot feels effortless and that he can barely feel the contact with the ball.
Ivan Ramis will have had a similar sensation when he struck his 8th minute opener against West Ham.
Because the ball comes to Ramis directly from a corner, it takes an age to arrive – making his technique more impressive. If this had been instinctual, then it’s still a great goal, but it’s slightly less impressive. We all collectively raved about that goal Paul Scholes scored against Bradford many years ago, and this belongs in that category. The timing is absolutely perfect, and – excuse the cliche – but it’s in from the moment it leaves Ramis’ foot. Unstoppable.
Additionally, there’s an extra degree of difficult because of the players clustered in front of him, who possibly obstruct his view and act as a distraction – how many times do you see a player shape to shoot, but fluff the contact because he expects an interruption ahead of him. Not Ramis: concentration, technique, execution.
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