The Big One at Old Trafford

As seen from Charlie Davies' seats...

As seen from Charlie Davies' seats...

The Whistle – A Big 2-1 win for Chelsea today.

Carlo Ancelotti and Chelsea are now looking down at Manchester United from the top. A big away win for the Blues as they simply had more horses today.

Chelsea controlled the first half and then withstood some pressure from United in the 2nd half.

Yuri Zhirkov–who should be getting more press from ESPN here in the post-game–was a pivotal player in stonewalling Valencia time-and-time again down Manchester United’s right flank.

On the opposite defensively, a strong game for the most part by the interior defense of United, especially Vidic who showed why he is the best in the business.

Offensively, Chelsea’s combinations worked up top for Chelsea from the deking of Joe Cole to the angled runs of Anelka and Malouda.

For Manchester United, Giggs and Scholes looked old on the day and couldn’t carry the team, perhaps the introduction of Nani should have happened earlier?

Thug Life: Doing Tupac proud!

Oh and a few tough calls in this one, Drogba offsides on the 2nd goal and of course Gary Neville’s clock-cleaning on Anelka in the 1st half.

93rd min - Final minute for Manchester…can they pull the rabbit?

91st min - Berbatov volleys to the goalie…as expected…should have done better.

90.5th min – Camera shot of Wayne Rooney leaving. Really?! It’s 2-1…he better be headed to the dressing room or something. Nice job ESPN cameras.

90th min - And we’re in to stoppage time here…Nani looks threatening from the left. I would push the ball to him for the next 5 minutes.

88th min - Zhirkov doing yoeman’s work today — Manchester United have tried endlessly to come down his flank and Zhirkov has proven more than up for the challenge. Not Valencia’s best day.

87th min - Zhirkov works a ball in the corner to stall time against Valencia. They took about things like the weather, Zhirkov’s new lion mane rug…

86th min - Sir Alex goes kitchen sink with Darron Gibson for Fletcher.

81st min – GOAL Macheda -Nani gets loose on YES PAULO FERRIERA (bad move there Ancelotti), Macheda knocks in off some body part. Chelsea claims handball.

80th min -Incredulously–as the ESPN announcers let us know–that’s Drogba’s first EPL goal against Manchester United.

78th min – GOAL – Drogba…who smashes home from the right side. Replays show that Drogba was offsides by a car-length.

Can’t wait to hear the Alex Ferguson presser now.

77th min – Manchester United need to get back a little rhythm if they’re going to equalize.

Hey ESPN how about a shot of Charlie Davies wherever he is in the stands today.

72nd min – Anything you can do, I can do better. Ancelloti counters the Nani/Macheda subs with Kalou for Joe Cole (who’s spent).

I still have concerns for Chelsea’s right flank which has seen Evra waltz in a few too many times here in the 2nd half.

71st min – Park gives way for Federico Macheda who is known–a little–for late season theatrics. Nani arrives for Paul Scholes who has seen better days on the Old Trafford pitch.

70th min – Deca earns a yellow souvenir for a La Liga foul on Ryan Giggs (casual kick to the left.)

69th min – Drogba for Anelka. Your move Sir Alex…

67th min – Ancelotti readying the Big Ivorian for Anelka….about time. Drogba needs to hold some possession up top…that will be his job.

65th min – Scholes misfires again to an onrushing Neville. Time to get him out of there as well. Ineffective on the day…ut hetried his best.

65th min – Manchester United still threatening. This is on the Chelsea manager to change tactics or players. Will be interesting to see if United can equalize before Chelsea alter the momentum.

61st min – Manchester United threatening most down the left flank now (way to recognize United). I’d like to see Beltetti for Ferreira.

Cech misplays a service and gets lucky for the ball to go wide.

60th min – Manchester United with their best pressure of the day. Park is causing havoc with his runs. Berbatov ends the offensive sequence with a well-taken but off-the-mark header wide left.

Chelsea should SUB to stem the momentum.

59th min – A nice run for Fletcher through the middle, the first of the day who taps to an on-rushing Park who gets bumped by Terry and fires high and wide. Elsewhere Berbatov crosses in front of Park and provides no opportunity for a pass…

58th min – Says right here that Patrice Evra has lost a step…he’s still up 15 on Bocanegra though…sorry Boca.

56th min – Giggs with a gorgeous service to an ill-positioned stumbling Berbatov. Somewhere a gaggle of Tottenham fans are laughing hysterically. Giggs’ free kick falls harmlessly.

54th min – Park hitches in, Cole stops him…inappropriately. A free kick within striking distance for United. Giggs lines up and…

53rd min – Einstein says “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Can we stop with the Scholes to Valencia combination. It is not working whatsoever!

53rd min – Valencia gets loose for once against Zhirkov overplays the cross, but Giggs is onrushing and slices the best opportunity of the half wide left for the home side.

52nd min – Shot of a calm Sir Alex Ferguson in the Audi jumpseats. Those benches always crack me up.

50th min – Nothing like the green and gold of Man United fans….yawning…

48th min – Joe Cole with a gorgeous through ball to a charging Ferreira with Evra riding him into the box a tough but good chance for the defender and he rolls harmlesss

46th min – Are you kidding me…off the opening kick Scholes tries Valencia up the right…still not working fellas…

No change for Man United after the break, not sure what I would do, but I would do something…

Halftime:

Chelsea have controlled nearly the entire game this morning. Manchester United are sorely missing their talisman above as Berbatov has zero shot at receiving service and moving the ball.

Paul Scholes, sitting very deep in midfield, has tried time and time again to find Valencia on the long ball up the right side and there is absolutely nothing doing up that flank for Man United in the first 45 mins.

When Giggs has got it on the left for Man United, he can’t seem to read the movement in front of him to create opportunities.

Dimitar Berbatov is showing that he’s not lazy, just not quality.

Defensively Man United have been a little shaky on the wings, but Vidic and Ferdinand have withstood a few runs by Chelsea’s French front.

On the opposite side of the ball. Chelsea have been playing with a ton of confidence. Though Deco has been spotty after some strong early passing. Frank Lampard has been patrolling the midfield quite easily, cleaning up plays and holding the play in the offensive line.

Yuri Zhirkov has been a difference maker and the best defender for Chelsea, showing he can handle Antonio Valencia all by himself.

You tell me why I'm on the bench!

Chelsea showing they’ve got better movement upfront without a certain player from the Ivory Coast.

42 min – Replays shows a wonderful tackle from behind by Lampard on Berbatov as the crowd complains for a penalty. Gary Neville finally earns a yellow thereafter up the pitch.

41 min – Scholes and Park battle for the ball on the right flank. One problem…same team. Zhirkov watches and then casually picks up the ball for a throw-in

40 min – Want to know how terrible the Man United offense is this morning. Zhirkov is starting to come up the left flank and overlap. No fear of Man United counter.

39 min – Scholes and Giggs trying their best today to carry United, but showing their age.

37 min – It took 37 mins, but the announcers finally throw a bone to British ex-pats watching by saying that “Owen Hargreaves is almost fit”….ha!

36 min – Lampard throws Valencia to the ground…with Neville non-call you’re not getting one there. Crowd shot of styling Mr. Bison Michael Essien and Ashley Cole sitting together.

First time we’ve seen Essien in what, 3 years, during an EPL broadcast…

35 min – Scholes keeps trying Valencia up the right flank and Zhirkov keeps shutting him down…..Ancelotti trumping Ferguson in this one thus far.

33 min – I said Park MVP after Rooney for United this year…messed that up…try Vidic. Vidic has been an island against a spunky Anelka this morning and has turned away the Frenchman every time.

No Vidic this morning for Man United and you’re looking at at least one more goal for the visitors.

32 min – Berbatov getting beat up by Terry and Alex this morning. Man United are going to need a new game plan at the half….replay shows NEVILLE did everything put use a baseball bat on Anelka…horrible missed call.

30 min – Anelka wants it this morning. Neville mugs Anelka — if this at the Bridge that’s an easy penalty in the box. How long are we going to cut Neville breaks based upon reputation…disgusting…

29 min – Scholes still launching long balls…seems like the offensive play from Man United this morning…they’re going to need more than that.

28 min – Ginger Ninja commits a foul. DAX!

27 min – Chelsea with about 2/3 the possession thus far. Why hello Paulo Ferreira I just recognized you were playing…probably a good thing for Chelsea.

25 min – United faithful are chorusing trying to spur their team on. Park collapses in the box. Looked like a dive; was a dive. Lucky he didn’t get a card.

23 min – Chelsea feeling their oats right now, playing some nice combinations, Malouda and Anelka working well in tandem up top today. Drogba decision is looking smart thus far.

21 min – Now we’ve got ourselves a game, you know Sir Alex would have been just fine with 0-0 today. Manchester United now must attack. Giggs is tried down the left side twice, but nothing results.

20 – min – JOE COLE – CHEEKY FINISH – 1 – 0 Chelsea – Florent Malouda busts up Gary Neville for the 2nd or 3rd time this game. Ground a ball to the near post Cole with his back to the goal directs it to the lower right inside pocket. Well done Cole.

17 min – Giggs and Sholes shut down Joe Cole after a full minute of Chelsea knocking it around Man United defense.

16 min – Scholes sitting very deep for the home side. Looks like Sir Alex said to him, “Okay, try it up the wings when you can, but do not make a stupid mistake deep in our zone.”

15 min – Lampard with Chelsea’s 2nd corner does nothing. Malouda gets it on the left flank and Vidic heads once on the service and then karate kicks it out. Vidic playing top-notch right now.

(Oops…Internet goes down for few minutes…you haven’t missed much Man United sitting back a little bit…both teams still being cautious)

6 min – Ji Sung Park Manchester United’s MVP after Wayne Rooney this season? Think about. Park is already starting to motor around the pitch this morning.

5 min – Berbatov’s first touch is a little frisky as he successfully pirouettes passed Alex on Chelsea’s left flank.  Sort of like that little number in Liverpool last year, but this time no job on the cutback pass.

4 min – Man United concede the first corner as Deco puts in over the top to Anelka and Vidic watches it out. Alex heads into the crowd to start.

2 min – Welcome back Peter Cech, going with the green and black ensemble this morning…

Efan  Ekoku and Peter Drury commenting

TWEET

Alexi Lalas invokes the cliched “Berbatov Not Lazy defense…..yawn!

Pregame:

Florent Malouda favored over Didier Drogba by Ancelotti this morning. Dimitar Berbatov not favored over Wayne Rooney, but no option for Sir Alex.

Charlies Davies at the Chelsea – Man United game this morning…was he invited by Essien

Why hello there “ESPN Axis” or the telestrator the TSG requested a few weeks back…

Okay, okay you didn’t ask, but we’re going with a running commentary.

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10 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Antonio H. on 2010/04/03 at 6:50 AM

    So I ended up setting the alarm for this one, no DVR needed.

    I felt this game was one on the sidelines though, as Fergie was really outcoached by Carlo

    Reply

  2. Posted by matthewsf on 2010/04/03 at 6:55 AM

    I agree, but Man United showed just how much Wayne Rooney has carried them.

    The only thing that Ferguson could have done better is introduced Nani earlier. You didn’t want him in there the hole game.

    And I can’t make the point enough…how many times did Man United try Scholes to Valencia with absolutely no joy. Poor tactics and very solid work by Zhirkov — I’m going to belabor that point because no one is making it.

    Reply

    • Posted by Antonio H. on 2010/04/03 at 11:20 AM

      I would’ve started some younger players like Obertan or Macheda/Diouf. Just to get some energy out on the pitch because United was dead in the 1st. They could’ve certainly used one Josmer Altidore though :>. IMO he’s better than both teen strikers especially when all you need is someone to impact the game, maybe bang a few heads.

      Reply

  3. Posted by Justin on 2010/04/03 at 9:15 AM

    i thought Nani and Macheda should have actually started i kinda thought Neville messed the game up for United his passes were very poor.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/04/03 at 9:22 AM

      I think with Macheda, he’s just getting fit — hard for him to go a full 90min. I had suggested Diouf start for that reason in the preview. Diouf didn’t even make the bench!

      Similar with Nani, he loses his effectiveness a little going the full 90…but perhaps he *could have started, but he’s a terrible defender as well and I’m not sure with the form that Chelsea was in that you wanted relatively weak defenders on both side (Valencia and Nani).

      But yet again, Manchester United didn’t so what they choose didn’t work.

      Reply

      • Posted by Antonio H. on 2010/04/03 at 11:24 AM

        I don’t think Nani is that bad a defender, he’s a pretty strong tackler for a winger. Unless you’re Talking about the Deuce-no-wanting-to-track-back-for-the-UMNT terrible defending as opposed to the second-best-tackling-forward-in-the-PL, then that’s another thing

        Reply

        • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/04/03 at 12:27 PM

          Decent tackler, not above average in my opinion, but very poor on getting back into position.

          Mistake today was going with Valencia over Nani…if Valencia could have won that right flank for as many times as they tried it it would have changed the game.

          Reply

  4. Posted by i like tuesday on 2010/04/03 at 11:44 AM

    Loved the fluidity of Chelsea’s attack today. Defended well as both a 4-2-3-1 when pressing and a deeper 4-1-4-1 when pressure was broken. Malouda is emerging as the player we thought he could be – how many times did he come away with the ball out of tight spaces today and leave you thinking, how’d he do that!?!

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/04/03 at 12:30 PM

      I remember one of Malouda’s first games at Chelsea when they played Club America on the Stanford campus. Essien kept feeding him the ball over the top on the right flank and Malouda was killing it.

      I think the merry-go-round of coaches has impacted him a little, but he looked good today (not when I’ve had him on my fantasy team).

      Chelsea defense was strong except for Ferreria as he tired.

      The Guardian recognized Zhirkov gave him a 9 on the day — I give him a 9.5…shame we won’t see him in the World Cup in this form.

      Reply

      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/04/03 at 2:43 PM

        I thought Chelsea were great in the first half. Kept the ball well and played some nice once touch, and played the game at their tempo. Zhirkov had Valencia in his pocket and got forward well too. Chelsea for some reason turned the ball over too easily for the first 20 minutes in the second half, but Cech didn’t really have to make a save, did he? I thought Drobga should have come on earlier as Chelsea kept losing the ball up top as the support for Anelka wasn’t as forthcoming as the first half and Drogba is stronger and better and holding up the play. I feel that over all, Chelsea were good value for their win. The title’s coming back to London!

        Reply

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