Sunday, November 2, 2014

Fellaini finally arrives. Manchester United 1 - 1 Chelsea





Just imagine that you badly wanted to have a fancy gadget, booked it online by paying the full amount to get it on time for Christmas, only for the courier guy to deliver it by next year Christmas. That is the same feeling I got watching Marouane Fellaini having his best game in a United shirt, albeit a good 1 year and 3 months after 27Million quid was paid to Everton’s pockets. He did a commendable job, sticking on to Fabregas throughout the match, as if a hooker on her prospective customer, and thus blocking the service to Hazard and Oscar. This proved out to be a tactical masterstroke from Van Gaal when every one of us was thinking about the way Fabregas ran riot against Arsenal. It again shows how na├»ve Wenger can be at times with tactics.

I can bet my life on the fact that there wasn’t a single United supported who wasn’t worried when Rafael was booked inside the first 15 minutes for a silly foul on. It was to everyone’s relief that he went on to have one of his stable games on the right wing.  United looked strong going forward and shaded the first half in terms of possession and attacking threat. Di Maria was a constant thread on the right wing, after being moved there to accommodate Januzaj on the left. Januzaj had his worst game in a United shirt against West Brom, but here he came up with his best display of the season. The chances in the first half were few and far between, but United’s best chance came through Van Persie, only for Thibaut Courtois to come on top.

The deadlock was broken in the second half, when Didier Drogba showed the entire world that he has lost none of his predatory instincts, by heading home at the near post after losing Rafael. Whoever has asked Rafael to mark Drogba has probably not seen Drogba’s goal in the UCL final against Bayern. He is a monster against properly built centre backs, and Rafael’s 5’7 figure did not pose a threat to him.

United introduced James Wilson, the 18 year old striker, on 68th minute in place of Juan Mata, who had a comparatively quieter game.  United could not force the issue and the final quality ball never arrived. Jose Mourinho went into his usual mode of introducing defenders and defensive midfielders while protecting a 1 goal lead. Mikel, Schurlle and Zouma arrived in place of Oscar, Hazard and Willian to slow the game down. Branislav Ivanovic got the second yellow on the 93rd minute and was promptly sent off for tripping Di Maria on the left side of Stretford End. Di Maria delivered a sumptuous ball from the resulting free kick and Fellaini forced an excellent save from Courtois, only for the ball to fall in to the left side of Van Persie inside the 6 yard box. When the net bulged at the Stretford end, not even the staunchest United supporter could argue that it was a deserved point. Nobody in a red shirt could have complained if Chelsea had won today. It is fair to say that United got out of jail today. But in the current form of United’s back four, it seems almost illegal to allow Sergio Aguero to run at our defense the next week.