Manchester United F.C.’s six match winning streak was finally broken by Chelsea F.C., when they lost 1-0 in the Premier League. It was the second clash of the season between the two teams, with the previous match ending in a tie. Both teams seemed on an equal footing, until Chelsea’s Eden Hazard scored the only goal of the match in Stamford Bridge today.
Today’s win gives Chelsea a 10 point boost, and cements its position at the head of the Premiere League table. Jose Mourinho’s men finally have a shot at taking the Premier League for the first time since 2010. Two more games, against Arsenal and maybe Leicester, and Chelsea will have finally succeeded in their fifth attempt at getting their third Premier League title.
Manchester United needed to win today’s game if they had expectations of winning the Premier League title, but the injury ridden team lost against the highly defensive Chelsea. Louis van Gaal, Manchester United’s manager told BBC that he was satisfied with the team’s performance, and proud of them. “We played our best match of the season but in football you can lose a match even when you are the better team,” said Van Gaal after the match, and they did put up a good performance.
They tried pushing again and again. Despite the loss of players like Marcos Rojo, defender; Phil Jones, defender; Daley Blind, midfielder; Michael Carrick, midfielder and Jonny Evans, another defender who was serving a six-game suspension for an incident last month, Manchester United had possession of the ball 70.3 percent of the game. They also had 15 attempts at scoring, as opposed to Chelsea’s seven.
Mourinho, Chelsea’s manager though, said that the game went exactly as he wanted and was expecting. “Wait for a mistake and score a goal. We were able to make their important players disappear. Nobody saw them. They were in our pockets,” Mourinho told BBC.
Manchester United did make mistakes while playing against Chelsea, and this contributed to the other team’s win. David de Gea, the goalkeeper not only conceded Hazard’s goal 38 minutes into the game, but also celebrated too early when four minutes into the game a Wayne Rooney shot looked like it had gone in, but had actually hit the side-netting. Rooney flubbed another goal 83 minutes in when he hit the ball over the bar. The midfielder, Ander Herrera’s attempt at winning a penalty for his team in the stoppage time, was also a lost effort when he tangled against Chelsea defender Gar Cahill. Herrera was in fact booked for simulation and got a yellow card.
Another decision which was controversial was what many considered a foul by Chelsea captain John Terry, against Manchester United striker Radamel Falcao that went unnoticed. This was the build-up to the only goal of the match. Terry came in from behind, and Falcao fell after losing the ball. The game was not stopped. The ball was further collected by Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas who passed it to midfielder Oscar, who back-heeled it to Hazard.
Chelsea also had their share of controversial decisions when fans screamed for a red card when De Gea came rushing to stop a ball and deflected it off his arm. He was out of the box then, and should have gotten a red card had the referee’s view not been blocked.
Hazard usually helps with assists but today’s match was only the third Premier League match of this season in which he failed to do so. The Belgian midfielder still proved his worth by scoring his thirteenth Premier League goal of the season. He almost shot another goal, but hit the bar instead. Manchester United tried to keep him off-balance but he bounced back every time. This is why the 24 year-old is a nominee for the Professional Football Association Players’ Player of the Year.
While Chelsea is happy with their win against Manchester United in the Premier League they are not celebrating yet. As Mourinho, the manager of the club pointed out, football is not about ‘ifs’ and ‘almosts,’ but is precise. “When it is done, it is done, and until that moment we don’t celebrate,” he told BBC.
Manchester United though, is now out of the running for winning the League as they can only hope to hold on to their third place, over Manchester City, unless Manchester City wins their next match. Also their striker Falcao might not be returning to the team next season, because of his subpar performance where he did not have a shot on goal despite his three attempts and his serious knee injury. Today’s match could be seen as Manchester United’s challenge next year to whoever wins this year’s Premier League title, including Chelsea.
By Anugya Chitransh
Photo by Ben Sutherland – Flickr License