Manchester United 2-1 Chelsea Talking Points

MUFC celebrate their second goal

AUTHOR: – Stretford-end and Doron

Manchester United booked a place in the semi finals of the European Cup after a 2-1 victory over Chelsea (3-1 on aggregate) at Old Trafford on Tuesday evening. United will play the winners of the tie between Schalke and Internazionale, although it will take a small miracle for the Italian and current European Champions to overcome their first leg deficit. Javier Hernandez and JI-Sung Park scored either side of Didier Drogba to give United a well earned victory against ten men Chelsea. Here we discuss the Talking Points of the game and encourage both United and fans to leave their thoughts on an eventual and thoroughly enjoyable game.

Talking Points

Chelsea Formation & Drogba

Like a villain in a movie, Carlo Ancelotti with a raised eyebrow suggested that there would be a surprise in store in his Chelsea line up against Manchester United. One of the key surprises was the Drogba was on the bench, whilst Fernando Torres kept his place in the starting lineup. Maybe not such a surprise, considering that Roman Abramovich is quite clearly pulling the strings regarding who leads the line for Chelsea – if not, Ancelotti clearly isn’t the manager that his two European Cup successes suggest he is.

The main surprise from Ancelotti was his side lined up 4-3-2-1, with Anelka and Lampard supporting Torres and a midfield three of Ramires, Essien and Malouda. The energetic midfield three were key in all of Chelsea’s play that was good, with Ramires in particular working extremely hard in the first half. United’s midfield four became narrow, which of course meant that Chelsea’s fullbacks could push on and exploit the space left by Nani and Park. Without Wayne Rooney dropping deep, the central midfield areas was essentially 4 vs. 5, which is why at times Chelsea controlled the play. When playing against sides that use a 4-3-2-1 or a more adventurous 4-3-1-2, it is key to try and get the ball wide – however, it can be difficult when getting outnumbered in midfield. United’s first goal did indeed come from a wide area, with Giggs linking up with John O’Shea excellently before crossing for Hernandez to score. Chelsea had played well first half, but United had coped with everything that was thrown at them – however, could it have been a tad different had a certain Ivorian been playing ahead of Torres?

As expected, Torres was substituted at half time for Drogba, who I thought was excellent second half and looked dangerous throughout. Drogba isn’t the most likeable of characters, however there is no doubting his quality as a target man and forward. His ability to hold up the ball or to turn on a sixpence was clear to see, and he did cause United problems at times. His goal was well taken and he should feel aggrieved that he didn’t start the match. I for one am glad that Torres played instead.

The screenshot below highlights the average position taken up by Chelsea in the first half, which clearly demonstrates the 4-3-2-1 setup:

Chelsea 4-3-2-1 against Manchester United

JI Sung Park

Many often refer to the point that Ferguson ‘likes Park in these sort of games’ or ‘he works really hard’ – however, I have always been a big fan of JI Sung Park for his obvious work rate, tracking back to slow play down and his direct dribbling style. He has also popped up with some key goals in recent times, netting the winner against Arsenal earlier in the season and against Liverpool towards the end of the last campaign. Add in a brace against Wolves (including a very, very late strike) and it is clear to see that he is an extremely important player in Ferguson’s thinking. His main strengths are obviously focused on hindering the opposition’s main strengths – mainly attacking fullbacks, or as he did in Milan – stopping Andrea Pirlo from playing. However, his high energy levels allow him to wander in from wide areas and influence play all over the pitch, as highlighted in the diagram below:

Park Passing stats against Chelsea

As mentioned his high energy levels allow him to get behind the ball and stop counter attack, however he should also get praise for his reading of the game and his interceptions – which were mainly from Ashley Cole looking to play the ball inside:

Park Interceptions vs. Chelsea

A superb overall performance by the Korean, who is going to play a big part in deciding whether or not United win a trophy this season or not. He may not have the craft of Carrick, skill and flair of Nani but his high energy levels, determination and adherence to instructions from Ferguson is second to none.

Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs and an unsung hero

Two players stood out above the rest last night – Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs.

Rooney was once again deployed in a deeper role behind Chicharito and ahead of the midfield. On a night where Chelsea wouldn’t have been chasing the game, his instructions may have been to sit on their deepest midfielder however he was able to pick up pockets of space easily throughout the game.

He set the tempo for United’s performance early on with a rasping volley from 35 yards, conjuring something out of nothing. All game he was the focal point for United’s play, picking the ball up deep and regularly switching the play from one side of the pitch to the other with ease as demonstrated below:

Rooney passing vs. Chelsea

The only thing missing from Rooney’s game last night was a goal however he very nearly supplied one for Chicharito in the first half – his stunningly accurate cross was headed in by the Mexican but ruled out for offside. His performance was near enough perfect, the work rate, the energy, the tackling, the passing – he was unplayable. That was as good a performance as Wayne Rooney has given for United.

One less obvious but equally pleasing aspect of his performance was the smile. Rooney seemed happy. There was none of the ‘angry man’ antics but a player enjoying his football and playing well. No one celebrated either goal as passionately as he did; if he had previously fallen out of love with the game and the club, that’s very much in the past now.

If Rooney was unplayable, Giggs was untouchable.

There’s little to say about him that hasn’t already been said but he’s a freak. His performance in the centre of midfield added a calmness and balance to the United side. In reality, Giggs should have been overrun by a class Chelsea midfield of Ramires, Essien and Lampard but they, like many opponents previously, couldn’t get close to the master.

It’s an underrated part of the Welshman’s game but defensively, he is very sound. He tracked back and tackled as well as anyone last night and fed by Carrick, he was able to supply Rooney & Co all night long. Despite being 37, he covered more ground than anyone during the game, an incredible feat when surrounded by many younger players.

It was Giggs who made the telling difference over the course of the 180 minutes of the quarter final:

Giggs passing vs. Chelsea

The diagram above shows in yellow his two assists from the second quarter final – add to that the assist from the first game and Giggs set up every United goal. The assist for Park in particular was brilliant – Giggs had a split-second to get the ball out of his feet and play in a perfectly weighted pass for Park to swing the game back in United’s favour. It was reminiscent of the telling ball played to Owen in the 4-3 win over Man City last year.

The experience Giggs brings is irreplaceable, it was a masterful performance from him. However, he was partnered by one of the night’s unsung heroes.

Once again Michael Carrick put in an epic performance doing plenty of the ‘dirty’ work. In the absence of Hargreaves and the dip in Fletcher’s form, he’s had to play a defensive role this year and on countless occasions in that first half he was making key tackles, blocks and interceptions. Added to that is a new found confidence in his passing which is seeing him play the ball forward more often whilst retaining his accuracy. Giggs post-match singled out Carrick for praise saying his job became a whole lot easier as a result, Carrick’s contribution cannot go underestimated.

Match Conclusion

Manchester United fully deserved their 3-1 victory over Chelsea, despite a slight scare in the 77th minute, when Drogba equalized to level the match and give Chelsea hope of nicking the tie on away goals. Thankfully, Park popped up to get on to the end of another superb Giggsy pass and smash a left footed drive passed the helpless Cech. Wayne Rooney was superb, knocking cross field passes as we might do a 5 yard pass to a mate a Power League. Accuracy, precision and awareness to shift play from side to side was incredible – and something that United needed when playing against a narrow midfield.

Ryan Giggs continues to defy the odds and as the image shows in the blog, our number 11 had an influence all over the pitch and knocked both long and short passes when necessary – a complete midfield performance. It should be remembered that Giggs and Carrick where effectively up against an extremely energetic midfield three, who would stride passed them majority of midfielders in Europe. The dismissal of Ramires obviously made it a little easier, however there was still work to be done and Giggsy showed composure when finding Park for the crucial second goal.

United now travel to Wembley on Saturday to face Manchester City in the FA Cup semi finals, whilst Carlo Ancelotti’s Chelsea will hope to get this season over and done with as quickly as possible.

AUTHOR: – Stretford-end and Doron

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7 Comments on Manchester United 2-1 Chelsea Talking Points

  1. Brilliant team performance and very impressed with Rooney, Giggs and Park. I wonder if any of them will start against City though (obviously not Rooney) or will we see the likes of Berbatov, Anderson and Scholes come into the side?

  2. Quality read as always,

    I agree with the analysis I thought Rooney was out of this world and Park and Giggs brilliant.

    I am one of the few who love him in that CM position, I think if memory serves me right you watched him in that position in the semi final of the CC Stretford End in one of his early starts in that position?

    Fergie played him in that position for a long time and stated he couldn’t get up and down asw a wide player any more then the last two seasons he has played him usually behind the main striker or wide.

    I love Park I’ve heard Fergie say many times the coaching staff always want him to start and so do the players.

    Nani frustrated me, he plays too much for himself, I felt he could have crossed the ball first time but preferred instead to beat the player or at least try to. I would go with Valencia and Park or Giggs before Nani.

    Carrick’s form has improved a lot, interesting very few players who went to the world cup have shone all season in the prem.

    The atmosphere was fantastic, great football great game.

    I love the Rooney little Pea partnership I think we have the best finisher in the world and the best 2nd striker in the world.

    I predicted we would not win anything this season, do I look silly. And we really are starting to play great football.

    Moreover we are a team who work hard and can also produce magical moments.

  3. I don’t know that Carrick was “epic” by any stretch, but it was a good, solid performance from a player seemingly, FINALLY finding a way back to form.

    Regarding Torres, I think the best summation I’ve seen is that he’ll probably end up being to Ancelotti what Shevchenko was to Mourinho.

  4. In that position Rooney has been unplayable. The big thing is he seems to enjoy it. If we let him concentrate on the role of playmaker does this mean we do not have to go out out and blow millions on an attacking mid?

    To answer my own comment about Carrick, looks like he’s grown a set after all. His passing was much more positive which jhas been my biggest beef with him, was that because of the movement of Giggs & Rooney around him or will we see a revert to type when Scholes/Gibson/Fletcher come back.

    Park had the best game I’ve seen him have I’m not usually a fan but credit to him. In all everyone played their part although Evra slightly below his usual standard.

    On another note I think Nani answered why he is not nominated for the PFA award, waving imaginary cards at the ref is never going to win you votes. Granted the fouls were fouls, but Rio even had a word.

    Bring on the council house tenants. No Rooney but No Tevez, who will be effected more?

  5. I feel it’s only fair to say this out as it’s now a United player: Waving an imaginary card should be an automatic yellow card. It’s as much unsportsmanlike conduct as anything else. And what’s more, it’s FUCKING IRRITATING.

  6. Comment by Ian
    Totally agree mate. I can almost live with ‘clever’ play for example inviting a defender into a challenge, it’s up to a defender to stay on his feet and use his brain. But Diving and trying to get players booked or sent off really grates on me. You can understand anger at an OTT tackle or being denied a goal scoring opportunity but waving cards is the pits. I remember when I was younger watching world cups and the south americans doing it and it was comical and unusual to see. At that time I never thought I’d see it in a domestic fixture.

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