Last night’s encounter at Old Trafford was filled with pulsating drama till the very last minute as the Theatre of Dreams witnessed a late equalizer from United’s Robin van Persie, after Didier Drogba put the visitors Chelsea ahead in the 53rd minute.
The match, thus, ended at a 1-1 stalemate. Though the United fans were more satisfied with the result, a draw in an away game was acceptable for Chelsea as well. Chelsea players made some mistakes, but some positives can also be derived from this clash. So here is a look at the five things we learned from last night’s fixture:
Never Underestimate Your Opponent
This is something we have all heard right from our childhood, and it applies on a stage as big as the Premier League. Most Chelsea fans (even players to some extent), including myself, were overconfident about this game, expecting a big win or at least a clean sheet. However, it was Manchester United that we were facing, the team which has the best record against them in Premier League history.
The home team managed to get into the Chelsea half two or three times within the first four minutes itself, and came very close to scoring on some occasions, especially when Van Persie forced Courtois to stretch himself and deny him a goal. Not only this, the Red Devils also played some possession football, which was against the expectations of many, and were the marginally better side in the 1st half.
Diego Costa now has some Competition
In the form of none other than, Didier Drogba, Diego Costa might face some competition up front. The 36-year-old was the oldest player on the pitch and headed Chelsea ahead in the 53rd minute. This was very much similar to the goal he scored in the UCL final in Munich, 2012 except that this one came from the left side corner and had a little deflection from Van Persie.
For the Ivorian striker, who made his 350th appearance for Chelsea, this was his 101st Premier League goal and his first since March 2012. This was also his 2nd goal in two consecutive matches (the previous one coming in the Champions League against NK Maribor earlier this week). It is safe to say that DD11 has begun to find his footings now on his 2nd coming at Chelsea!
Poor refereeing cost Chelsea 3 points
One man who surely didn’t have a good game was the referee, Phil Dowd. He showed seven yellow cards to the Blues’ players and sent Branislav Ivanovic off for a soft foul on Angel Di Maria in the dying minutes of the game. There was little contact by Ivanovic on the winger and Dowd was too far behind the play to make the right call but gave the decision anyway.
This was not the only decision by the referee which made Jose Mourinho furious. Before that, Phil Dowd denied two clear penalty chances at the same time, during one of the Chelsea corners when both Ivanovic and John Terry were brought down by United defenders Chris Smalling and Marco Rojo respectively, in what appeared to be more of a wrestling match than a game of football. The story of the game would have been different, had a penalty for either of the two fouls been given.
Time wasting is not always a good idea
Mourinho’s men adopted a strategy of wasting as much time as possible, after taking the lead in the 53rd minute. Who knew that it would come back to haunt them in the dying minutes? Chelsea seemed likely to hold out but just before the final whistle, United a got a freekick for a foul on Di Maria for which Ivanovic was sent off.
Courtois managed to save a Marouane Fellaini header, but could not keep out Van Persie’s fierce follow-up. Chelsea thus had to settle for one point instead of three, and are now 4 points clear of second-placed Southampton and 6 points ahead of the defending champions Manchester City in 3rd position.
Courtois is Chelsea’s future
The 21-year-old came very close to keeping a clean sheet against a big team if it had not been for the last minute equalizer. The Belgian keeper didn’t give up till the very last moment before Van Persie scored; Courtois had already denied Fellaini a goal during the same freekick. His gloves had a firm grip over the ball throughout the game. Earlier in the game, when Chelsea’s defence seemed clueless in front of United’s counter attacks, Courtois prevented a Van Persie goal even after going one on one with the Dutchman.
Edited By: Vikram Vadiganeni