Chelsea 5-4 Manchester United: Anderson, atmosphere, youth and penalties

Manchester United draw level as Eden Hazard scores a penalty for Chelsea
Manchester United concede in the last minute as Eden Hazard scores a penalty for Chelsea

Authors: Stretford_End and Doron

Manchester United and Chelsea were again involved in another thrilling encounter, with the London club advancing to the next round of the League Cup. Chelsea came back three times to draw level in normal time, whilst taking the advantage in extra time after the introduction of Eden Hazard and Oscar. United fielded a mix of players, although at right back Rafael was the most experienced player in the United defence – with Wootton, Keane and Buttner making up the other three positions. Here we discuss the main talking points from the game and welcome comments from both sets of fans.

United’s shape, flexibility and squad depth

United lined up in a 4-3-3 formation with, a midfield trio of Fletcher, Anderson and Giggs – who captained the side. Hernandez was the lone frontman supported by Nani on the right an Welbeck on the left. Anderson’s bursts forward weren’t tracked by the labouring Romeu, whilst Ryan Giggs was box to box all night, providing cover with Fletcher and support for Hernandez – a truly exceptional performance, topped off with two goals.

United’s shift from a diamond against Braga to a 4-4-2 against Chelsea on Sunday highlights the flexibility of this United side to adapt game to game, as seen by Sir Alex Ferguson. For all the negativity around United’s central midfield from some United fans, both Ryan Giggs and Anderson, who I thought was MOTM, were exceptional all night. Anderson’s performance (covered in detail later in this blog) should put him inline for inclusion against Arsenal on Saturday lunchtime, which means competition for Carrick, Scholes and Cleverley for a starting berth.

Young centre back pairing

With neither Smalling nor Jones ready to return to competitive football just yet, Fergie wasn’t going to risk injury to Rio or Evans ahead of Arsenal’s visit on Saturday. He opted to pair Scott Wootton (21) and Michael Keane (19) together at the heart of United’s defence. Scott has recently been a substitute for the first team whilst Michael has been playing for the U21s.

Both centre backs did many things well. Unlike the Newcastle tie where they were faced with physicality, this time they came up against guile and trickery, particularly when Chelsea brought Oscar and Hazard on to join Mata. When high balls were played forward, both were good in the air and won most of their headers. Neither player is particularly quick and at times they were caught out on the turn – particularly Scott, but with the help of Fletcher, they coped admirably despite shipping five goals.

Scott may well be disappointed – he gave away a penalty and gifted Daniel Sturridge a goal. His lack of composure and concentration is something he can only work on but I stand by a long-held stance that he isn’t and never will be good enough for United. That’s nothing against him at all as few players are lucky enough to even play for the first team but at 21 he needs to go to a football league club to play regularly and start a new chapter in his career.

Michael though was superb. He showed some incredible maturity at times and his reading of situations was brilliant. On the ball he was outstanding – spending the 2010/11 at right back has clearly benefited him in that respect. He’s not 20 until the new year but the club must surely be looking at getting a good loan spell for him. He’s a good height and does still need to fill out a bit but should the centre back injuries continue, he must surely be ahead of Wootton at least now.

(It’s also worth noting that defending clearly doesn’t come naturally to Buttner. If you’ve called for him to be ahead of Evra then you need to give your head a good wobble.)

Anderson, you tease

Every now and again it looks as though United may have part of an answer to the old central midfield issue. Anderson has an impressive ability to put in a teasing performance from time to time that just gets you thinking.

Against Chelsea, he put in 65 minutes of football that hinted at his form in his first season. Full of energy, going box-to-box, he was not only excellent in possession but superb at carrying the ball from deep into attacking areas. In fact, he was directly involved in most of United’s best moves including some of the goals. His dominant central display, aided somewhat by bookings to both Mikel and Romeu, was something of a statement – he’s hardly featured this season despite being fit.

The issue, and it won’t surprise anyone, is his fitness. It’s embarrassing that a professional footballer should be blowing so hard after an hour. He eventually had to sub himself due to exhaustion, signalling to the bench after 75 minutes that he had to go off. Fletcher (missed nearly a year) and Giggs (nearly 39) both completed 120 minutes with ease and although Anderson clearly has a less naturally fit metabolism/physique compared to the, it’s appalling that they could outlast him with ease.

Penalty decisions

(click to enlarge image)

Buttner’s challenge on Moses was a clear penalty, which was given and converted:

Buttner fouls moses in the box and Chelsea get a penalty

Juan Mata’s cross is stopped by Michael Keane’s arm. A penalty was not given:
The ball hits Michael Keane's arm in the area but a penalty isn't given

Scott Wootton charges into Ramires in the dying seconds of the match, which was given and converted:
Wootton knocks into the back of Ramires

Azpilicueta smashes into the back of Hernandez. The penalty was taken and scored by Ryan Giggs:
Azpilicueta brings down Hernandez in the box

For me, all four were penalty kicks.

Chanting and atmosphere

Over 6,200 United fans in one stand at Chelsea made for a brilliantly entertaining evening. Away games in domestic cups always seem to bring out a raucousness in us – some things like the flares will be criticised but they make for a great atmosphere.

Given recent events there were some fabulous chants to do with Mark Clattenburg and blaming referees – all said purely to wind Chelsea fans up (and it probably worked). One thing I hadn’t quite really noticed until Sunday was just how sterile Stamford Bridge is (it’s nearly as bad as Old Trafford) – silence, they score, they make noise for two minutes, then silence again. Modern football really is a sad state of affairs at times.

Meanwhile, singing “you only sing when you’re winning” to the United fans when you go 4-3 up… oh the irony!

It’s all a bit of fun though!


In a thrilling encounter, Chelsea advance to the next round after taking control in extra time. Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United will be deeply disappointed that the team couldn’t hold out in normal time, however the inexperienced Scott Wotten’s challenge on substitute Ramires allowed Chelsea a last gasp equalizer, scored by Eden Hazard. Chelsea’s quality improved in the second half after the introduction of Hazard, Oscar and Ramires. Mikel and Romeu could not cope with the surging Anderson and the Spaniards hesitation on the ball led to United’s opener, converted by the high pressing Ryan Giggs.

As mention in the article, Buttner’s challenge on Moses was a clear penalty, converted by David Luiz. The Brazilian defender was then at fault for United’s second as he lost the ball after stepping into midfield, leaving gaps at the back. Anderson’s superb through ball found Hernandez, who slotted home perfectly. After the break, Cahill equalizer with a great header from a corner. United had looked unorganised from corners in the second half, however there was no doubting the quality of the header – that was well over the line after Rafael’s failed clearance.

United’s third was exceptional, with Nani and Anderson linking up in the Chelsea box for the Portuguese to chip the ball over the advancing Peter Cech. A trademark finish from Nani. It looked as if United were going to advance to the next round, however Hazard scored a last gasp penalty – confidently rolling the ball down the centre of the goal. It was a blow to United having done so well in normal time.

Chelsea’s class showed in extra time, with Mata, Oscar and Hazard pulling the string behind the wasteful Daniel Sturridge. However, it was the Chelsea young forward who put the Londoners in the lead for the first time, following a mistake from Scott Wootton, who attempt to header the ball back to Anders Lindegaard, only for the ball to fall way short of his intended target. Before the game many fans would have welcomed the introduction of United’s youngsters, knowing only too well that this would be an invaluable experience. The young defender will not doubt learn from his mistakes. Ramires made it 5-3, after a superb ball from Hazard found the galloping Brazilian, who proceed to round Lindegaard. Ryan Giggs tucked away a penalty, following a blatant foul on Hernandez to make it 5-4. United couldn’t find an equalizer as the game drew to a close. Thankfully, many were talking about the football until pictures emerged of a Chelsea fan making a monkey gesture towards Danny Welbeck.

United host Arsenal on Saturday and will hope to build on their recent 3-2 victory over Chelsea from last Sunday.

11 Comments on Chelsea 5-4 Manchester United: Anderson, atmosphere, youth and penalties

  1. Apart from the fact we’re not in the next round, nothing but positives take from that game from a united point a view.

    Off the pitch our support was immense and embarrassed the rentboys. ‘WHERES YOUR RACIST CENTRE HALF’ and ‘TIME TO BLAME THE REFEREE’ were classic.


  2. Very good and fair review. Even though we (Chelsea) had several good chance in regulation time (free headers for Moses and Azpilicueta), Utd played the more fluid football. Anderson and Giggs were excellent. If I’m not mistaken, Anderson got 3 assists.

    You have to put the game in context. Even though we have several excellent players on loan, this showed the strength of Utd’s squad. We were missing 5 players (Cole, Terry, Lampard, Ivanovic, Torres) whilst Utd left out 10 of Sunday’s lineup, plus were missing Vidic, Smaling and Jones. Imagine our 6th and 7th choice CB’s having to deal with your best top attackers (RVP, Rooney, Valencia). We would never have acquitted ourselves so well. I’m sick of the sight of Chicharito. I make that 4 goals at Stamford Bridge.

  3. Yes it can be said it was a great test and experience for the 2 youngsters in wootton and keane but evans should have started in my opinion. Play 1 of them, ok but to play 2 young inexperienced lads in a game like last nights, hmm. Gotta question Fergie on that 1 although we were about 5 seconds away from closing it out. Feel for wootton. Its the kind of mistakes that wreck young players carreers. Sooner Smalling comes back, the better.

    Disappointed by Tunnicliffe last night. Too over hyped! Usual story. Not near good enough for the next step. Same can be said for Powell I’m afraid to say.

    Was pleased with Andersons contribution. He had a solid game and looked liveley. 3 assists as well. Fair play to him. Hope he can get some more game time.
    A lot slating him for looking knackered b4 being substituted. How can u expect the lad to still be up and down the pitch when he only gets a game every 3 weeks or so?? Match fitness takes time and you’ve got to be playing regularly. Training is a different animal altogether. Then some say “well look at Giggsy and Fletch running about after 120 mins”…players are all different. Anderson is like rooney. Rooney needs games to become match fit and that’s a fact…

    Really wanted to see Lingard last night. The lad has done really well for the 21’s this season and he deserved a chance ahead of Ryan to be fair. Hopefully we’ll see him in the last group games in the CL if we beat Braga away. Lad has unreal tekkers. Quality players!

    Pleased for Giggs last night. The guy has been slated for months…since the begining of the season and he proved a lot wrong last night. Ridiculous to write a player like Giggs off in my opinion. He’ll play his part this season I have no doubt.

    Also pleased for Hernandez. Fuckin hell. What a first touch and finish for his goal. Was unreal! Really happy for him.

    Buttner is average. Great skills and all but…….
    Can’t see him claiming the left back spot anytime soon. Fabio will be ahead of him when he comes back next season.

    Enjoyed last nights game even though we coudlnt hold them out and were quite unlucky. Our fans were absolutely MINT! Incredible banter with Terry, Torres, Clattenburg etc. Loved it.

    U-N-I-T-E-D ——- UNITED are the team for me!!!
    Looking forward to Saturday now hope we rip those gunners a new one!

  4. Yup, I agree with u on Anderson. The boy is full of energy and the closest thing we have to Roy Keane since the great man retired. Too bad injury has kept him from cementing that central midfield role that he fully deserved. Hope to see more of him this season. He was brilliant at the start of last season forming great partnership with Tom Cleverly.

  5. @RooMania If you would have actually seen the match or the replays, it was definitely Scott Wootton’s back header not Michael Keane’s.

  6. @Pat-Rice – firstly, you can’t claim players are too over hyper and then go and hype up another who’s yet to play for the first team.

    As for Buttner – may be injured but it’s also quite normal for players to get massages the day after a game

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