Talking Points: Chelsea 0-1 Manchester United

Rooney Scores

AUTHOR: – Stretford-end

Manchester United scored a vital away goal against Chelsea on Wednesday night to earn a 1-0 victory over the West Londoners. Wayne Rooney scored on the 24th minute, following a superb cross field ball from Michael Carrick and a excellent take and low cross from Ryan Giggs. It is United’s first victory over Chelsea (excluding Community Shield) since the 3-0 win at Old Trafford in January 2009. Here we discuss the talking points of a great United away victory in Europe.

Talking Points

Impressive Michael Carrick

Some see him as the best cultured English midfielder for years, others continue to scratch their heads in amazement that our number 16 gets into the side in the first place. Having said that, I thought Michael Carrick was excellent tonight, breaking up play just in front of the backline and distributing the ball intelligently. Yes, Carrick has not found the back of the net this season for United but his patience on the ball and ability to switch play is an extremely useful asset in United’s play.

His excellent cross field ball for Ryan Giggs, who still had a lot of work to do and plucked the ball out of the air with ease – cushioning it onto his legendary left foot, started the move that led to Rooney’s tidy finish – as he passed the ball in to the back of the net. As mentioned he continuously broke up play in the midfield (See Total Football screenshot below), whilst was very tidy on the ball, only misplacing five passes (also in screenshot below):

Michael Carrick Passes

Carrick Total Passes vs. Chelsea

Michael Carrick Interceptions

Carrick Interceptions

Xavi once remarked that Michael Carrick is a ‘complete player’ and with a performance like this under his belt, there is no reason as to why he cannot dominate more games like this.

Crazy Chelsea Substitution

I am eager to find out as to why the menacing Didier Drogba was withdrawn rather than the ineffective and theatrical Fernando Torres? Could any Chelsea fans reading this Talking Points blog explain the reasoning behind the substitution? I was quite happy to see the back of Drogba who was starting to cause some trouble down the right hand side with Evra and who had looked much livelier than his Spanish counterpart throughout the match.

Drogba tested an der Sar in the first half, whilst offering options both short and in behind – with Torres looking distinctly average and losing confidence throughout the game. Is this another Shevchenko/Ballack case?

Previous Quarter Final Ties

The last time United won an away quarter final 1st leg was back in 2007/08 – with a 2-0 victory over Roma. United went onto beat Roma 3-0 on aggregate, although Di Rossi missed a golden opportunity when he struck his penalty high into the Stretford End, early in the second half. To my knowledge, United have never won a first legged away tie 1-0. The last five quarter final first leg ties that United have played in have ended as follows:

2009/10 – Lost – Bayern Munich (2-1) : Lost the tie 4-4 (AG)
2008/09 – Drew – Porto (2-2) : Won the tie 3-2
2007/08 – Won – Roma (2-0) Won the tie 3-0
2006/07 – Lost – Roma (2-1) Won the tie 9-2
2002/03 – Lost – Real Madrid (3-1) Lost the tie 6-5

So we’ve only won one of the last five Champions League quarter final ties, but overall have progressed through to the semi final three times. Four of those ties were away from home, with the exception being the 2-2 draw with Porto in 2009. These stats mean little, considering there is still a vast amount of work to be done in the second leg – however, United have a fantastic lead – backed up by an impressive performance – and history bodes well for the Reds.

Wayne Rooney

After a crazy couple of days debate around the country on whether he deserved a two match ban for his swearing in front of a television camera, Wayne Rooney done his talking with his feet as he scored the only goal of the game. His neat finish indicates even more that United’s tailisman is returning to top form, right smack bang in the middle of squeaky bum season. Sir Alex Ferguson spoke after them match of the importance of Wayne Rooney at this time and how he could well be the difference between nothing and silverware this term:

“He’s now been more regular with his goalscoring which, in the last part of the season, is going to be important to us. That was important. We were pleased with that performance. Work-rate, desire, he was top quality [against Chelsea]. He took a great lot of abuse and late tackles on him, but he was excellent.”

Rio returns

It was the 1st of February that Rio last played for United. The fear was that his season was well and truly over. However, after a couple of weeks of training he returned to partner Vidic in the heart of the United defence. Whilst in many ways he hasn’t been overly missed as Smalling has risen superbly to the challenge of stepping-in, there was an air of authority and calmness that returned. It’s Rio’s ability to read the game that is somewhat irreplaceable – there were a few occasions where he was just perfectly positioned to get rid of the ball or win a tackle or make an interception.

Rio may be older and may be a bit slower but there is little doubt that he has quality about his game as well as experience. Speaking to ITV post-match, Rio declared himself fit for the run-in; a massive boost for the club with some important games coming up. The question now is whether he’ll need to be managed for the next couple of games so there is no reaction to his injury – don’t be surprised to see him miss out on a start vs. Fulham on Saturday. Vidic was full of praise post-match for Rio, speaking to MUTV he said:

“Rio had a great game. It’s very important in these matches to have experience in the team and we definitely had it tonight – the fact we kept a clean sheet showed we did some good things defensively.”

Match Conclusion

Although Chelsea hit the woodwork and saw a Frank Lampard effort cleared off the line, United were worthy winners and defended comfortably for large periods of the game. The goal was top quality, with Wayne Rooney netting his thirteenth of the season (in all competitions). Edwin van der Sar was against magnificent in terms of shot stopping and positioning, although his distribution wasn’t up to its usual standard.

Michael Carrick and Ryan Giggs provided the creativity in midfield, whilst also breaking up play deep in United’s half before distributing to the flanks for Antonio Valencia and Ji Sung Park to chase onto. Valencia’s return is a massive boost to United, especially as he showed how versatile a player he can be, putting in an excellent shift at right back in the absence of Rafael, who was substituted for Nani after a clash with Drogba. Chelsea couldn’t break United down and although there were a number of shouts at the end of the game for a penalty, following an Evra challenge on Ramires, I don’t think many Chelsea fans can argue with the scoreline.

United host Fulham on Saturday, before welcoming Chelsea to Old Trafford on Tuesday evening.

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15 Comments on Talking Points: Chelsea 0-1 Manchester United

  1. Rio for me, assured and keep Torres on check. Steadying the back four on his first return after a long time.

  2. Carrick has to be MOTM for me.

    Quick point on VDS distribution, with Rooney dropping deep and Hernandez competing with Terry & Ivanovic, the better option was probably out to the wings which we saw often, although Valencia, Park and later Nani weren’t strong enough in the air

  3. Hi, im a chelsea fan.


    on the game, chelsea didnt deserve to win; dominate possession, shots but no end product, no creativity and very very painfully predictable; man u also didnt deserve to win either, 2 times the ball were denied in crossline by evra and vandersar. draw would be a fairer scoreline. i dont give a shite about penalty argument cuz we only have ourself to blame.

    Drogba played 90 minutes vs stoke so probably the reason hes taken off. drogba drifting to the wing where he seems to have some joy against fullback with either kakuta/mceachran at the tip of diamond seems like a good option in the future. chelsea is going to 4-3-3 too little too late.

    On chelsea :

    wouldnt care much about this transitional chelsea side. torres is clearly for the future. all the while we’re waiting gerrard-esque (in the thru pass mold not brainless positional sense one) kakuta and mceachran to develop for another 1-2 years. (yes we dont have anyone capable of passing thru ball but everyone also just seems to forget two of them) one of those 2 in the tip of diamond with torres + another striker would be Lethal. diamond (if carlo stays) or standard 4-3-3 is our default system; emenalo said current narrow 4-4-2 is only transitional formation. maybe roman is impatient and spend during summer on some creative wide forwards. or we need to just wait for mceachran to develop. he is blues thru and thru since nine yr ol and will have massive role for us in the future for sure. maybe im a bit optimistic but hopefully things will be great for us Blues.

  4. Rooney was magnificent today and i think he deserves MOTM. But what about Carrick? This is the best i have seen of him for 2 seasons i guess. Was awesome yesterday. true class.

  5. Rooney, deservedly taking the plaudits, but as someone that usually comes on here to bash the enigma that is Michael Carrick can I just say he had a huge game last night. In the context that he was up against a powerful chelsea midfield he did not do the disappearing act we are so used to. If he can find that level of performance on a regular basis we need not look elsewhere while our young midfield trio develop.
    Great game from Rio too.

  6. Fair points from Chelsae fan. like Fergie did with Rooney, Carlo is trying to let Torres play himself back into form, its just not happening this season (so far). I think you would have to look hard to find a united player that didn’t put in a worthy shift, probably the first time this season where everyone on the pitch was willing to put their bodies on the line. Little Rafa throwing his little body in front of the huge Drogba for example. but personally for me Valencia was MOTM.Number of times he got back to defend the right back area when united lost possession was fabulous. and that was when he was playing on the wing. The blocks and interceptions he made when moved to the right-back position was unbelievable. I would think Rafa is glad he doesn’t have to compete with Valencia for the position in the long term.

  7. Drogba’s overall play was better but Torres twice got into better goalscoring positions than Drogba did all night.

    Carrick: Was excellent. Best he’s performed in years.

    Evra/penalty: Evra definitely should have gone. Was the foul just on the edge when contact’s first made? Maybe. Just. But most Chelsea fans I’ve seen have put it into perspective and taken it in commendably good grace. Better than many United fans have reacted to similarly bad decisions going the other way, it has to be said.

    Overall: Not very happy with the way we sat so deep in the second half when we proved in the first half that we could have won by more if we’d pushed for it. I know they didn’t create much, and what they did (“penalty” aside) we stopped, but that’s no excuse for just lying back and being seemingly happy to just try and soak up the damage. It won’t be good enough against teams in better form than Chelsea.

  8. Surely the FA now have an excuse to slap another ban on Rooney – when he scored he deliberately took the piss by mimicing Lampard’s goal celebration.

  9. Comment by Ian
    Just picking up on your comments about Chelsea fans taking the penalty shout better than we have previously, I think our arguement is that we have not had the rub of the green against Chelsea in the previous 3 matches.
    Also if Torres wasn’t throwing himself on the floor the ref might have give them something.

  10. 3times: Absolutely right, and I’ve no doubt that if we now have a few games against them where things go our way against Chelsea* United fans will become the gracious ones while Chelsea fans become increasingly tetchy. That’s not a comment on either set of fans in particular, just football fans in general.

    * Which is possible. These things do seem to happen in streaks in football…

  11. Comment by Ian
    I usually go by the rule that these things balance out over a season. It would just be nicer if they were not so key like the Drogba offside last year, it was the difference between winning the league and not.
    But then again you create your own luck of a sort, should we have have been in a position where it goes down to a head to head? cup competitions yes title race probably not.

  12. My man of the match is Van der Sar, with honorable mentions to Carrick and Valencia (outplayed Cole, Zhirkov and Malouda, looked threatening on the overlap when he switched to fullback). Given that Valencia possesses the sweetest cross in England (maybe all of Europe) and is an excellent defensive player, why not play him as a wing back with a right winger that cuts inside? Valencia and Nani on the same flank might overwhelm teams, or it might turn out to be like Brazil with Alves and Maicon (redundant). Either way, i like the wrinkle.
    We probably played better than Chelsea on the day, but it was not a vintage performance by any means. However, a midfield duo of Carrick and Giggs is too lightweight, and would have been overwhelmed by the Spanish sides (Ozil, Iniesta and Messi come to mind).

  13. 3times: Again, I can’t help but agree. The decisions between us and Chelsea recently, including the ones that have gone our way (most notably the Evra thing) have been or could be fucking enormous.

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