Manchester United 2 Chelsea 1
Sunday 25th February 2018 14:05
United had won just one of the previous 14 meetings of us. But which Chelsea was this going to be? I never know anymore. More of Tuesday night please.
Them: Still an utterly unterrifying United line up compared to yesteryear - the fact that we were willing to sell them three players should tell you everything. I question the wisdom of putting all your eggs in a diving Chilean basket. Ashley Young? How old is he now? I’d have it was more likely you’d spot a dodo wearing a United shirt these days than him.
Us: The Farca result and the presence of a striker quelled the nappy sh*tting - but should we really have chosen today to put Morata back in the starting lineup?
First there was a handshake. All of the Red Swarm sitting there, pencils poised, with a boner about a potential snub/bitchfight went limp. Quick goal please, obliterate his game plan. And Lord knows we tried. Amidst rampant singing of Antonio’s name, we started with intent and notched up 85% possession in the first five minutes. After just three minutes a volley by Alonso was smacked into the crossbar by Morata, then hit just over by Hazard on the follow up. At the end of the first ten minutes we’d almost scored twice and they hadn’t fashioned a shot. And Pogba had shown the limit of his worth by throwing himself on the floor. Moses was dancing around him at times like he was nailed to the floor. Moses, who we once loaned to West Ham. Past Pogba. Who cost how much?
Stat-wise we were running riot, but had fashioned nothing else dangerous as of yet. Conte and CP were even having a laugh and a joke on the touchline. Flaccid journos everywhere. We carried on pressing. Moses made a good run but got tangled up in the box. On 25 minutes they finally sparked into life a bit. Then it was like someone had suddenly let a crowd in when Sanchez hit an effort about as powerful as my kitten having a fart that comprised their first shot of the game on 27. Little Willy had been potent thus far. If you’re United, you deserve to be lined up and pimp slapped by Chequebook Pulis for our goal. It began with Pogba lying on the floor with one boot on moaning. Willian breaks and feeds it to Eden. Willy is then allowed to keep going the length of the pitch completely unnoticed by the entire United team. Once within range of goal he had the sense not to pass to Morata and to smash it himself. 0-1.
I curse every one of you that started singing “Jose, what’s the score?” Because then we shot ourselves in the foot, as it turned out, because straight afterwards five of them let Hazard run across the face of goal with nobody approaching him. We didn’t score. Seconds later a curling shot from Alonso bent wide. On 37 Matic was left looking like a chump. Break on. Morata loses ball. Recurring theme. So at that point we could have been comfortably ahead all things considered.
Then on 38 Lukaku finally scored a goal against some actual opposition. Scrappy defending, not enough closing down but they had done nothing to warrant being on terms in this game.
Still we had chances as we approached half time. Hazard made a great run into the box. He was surrounded and all he could do was drop it back for Alonso who hit it wide. I was already wound up by Morata. He began the game showing no signs of this ambiguous back injury, but by getting pushed around a fair bit. This was forgivable, but then he went on to spend much of the opening 45 sitting on the floor moaning about being fouled, and I think it was injury time before I actually concurred with him on one. For me today having Morata up front was no better than us playing with a false nine. He’s coming back from injury but he really needs to buck his ideas up. Man. The. F*ck. Up. And look for some decent form to end the season now. Injuries I can take, a dip in form even, it happens to everyone, but it’s so frustrating to see someone of his ability pussying out time after time instead of taking the game on. This might make me sound like a b*tch, and it may just be my general bad mood, but I don’t have it in to me to put blind faith in another striker with emotional baggage who can’t get his act together. I stuck blindly behind Torres from the first to the last, that was fine, but now I’m not interested in anyone who can’t come in and just do their job and earn the astronomical salary they have been given. Oh but if we would send every player to “Azpilicueta School” and hypnotise/electric shock everyone into behaving exactly like him.
So instead of being comfortable and forcing them to change everything, we were back at square one. Willian burst forth almost straightaway after the break, but the forward momentum petered out with Morata. I make no further comment. Hazard also made a valiant effort to get us in on goal, but it was a pretty level start to the second half, play ebbing back and forth. We’d had more than double their attempts on goal but since Willian put us ahead none of them had really troubled De Gea much. The sun was in his eyes though, which left me hoping that fate/mother nature would teach him a lesson for that little pony tail. As CP made his first change just after the hour mark, the sum total of their attempts for the last ten minutes had been a lame shot dragged way wide from Sanchez, who was basically anonymous for 90% of the play.
The game was opening up. I wanted Giroud. Perhaps a straight change up top, or Cesc on for Drinkwater? You’d be loathed to take Willian or Hazard when they look capable of stinging them on the break. And yet off went Eden. I cannot comprehend this unless there was something Conte knew about his ability to continue that we didn’t.
F*cking Lingard. Another lapse at the back, more punishment. It’s this weeks theme. And we haven’t really looked like scoring at all really since half time. Willian did have a fair go at levelling it straight away but it would have entailed beating the ponytail on his near post which was a little too much to ask. We couldn’t even capitalise on a stupid mistake by Lindelof. Giroud. Amen. In exchange for Moses who had faded away completely in the second half. Such a difference in attitude between Olivier and Alvaro. And in body language. So now we had two up front and plenty of time left to try and salvage a point out of a game that we had looked thoroughly capable of winning at some stage. We also brought on Fabregas for Drinkwater - probably ten mins too late if you were going to try and win it. Not convinced by the timing of the manager’s subs or the removal of Hazard today.
Shit or bust then. And we did equalise, and Morata did step up. Which brings me to Refwatch: Atkinson missed a blatant foul on Hazard in our own half but his transgressions were insignificant and few and far between, and had no wider impact on the game. The others are so bad I’ve started to like him. He was let down by a clanger from his moron Lino for the big call. His only possibly defence might be that he was as startled as the rest of us that the Morata had made it onto the ball first, and without falling over.
United had given up playing football. Bailly on for a forward. Running the clock down, Matic pretending to have cramp, Pogba inexplicably running round staring at his own gloved hand like he’s never seen it before. Frustrating.
So: Robbed. F*cking robbed. Though we are Chelsea so there’s a fair dose of “we could have wrapped it up by half time if we would have taken our chances.” I can’t actually find that much to get really angry about. Other than recommending that they bring Stevie Wonder in to do a job share with the Lino. At least he could provide some acapella support for the halftime Birthday crap. A couple of weeks ago we were getting destroyed by Bournemouth. In the last few days it’s only the odd unfortunate lapse in concentration that’s cost us results against Diverlona and at the Theatre of Plastic Dreams. We’re not lacking in the ability to win against our main rivals, just in a bit of luck, savvy and the ability to close a game out at the moment. Yesterday was apparently the first time we’ve gone ahead in a league game this season and not won. Out of 16? This game is not the one that is going to cost us the top four. It will be squandering points by not beating the likes of Bournemouth, Watford. We’ve now got a blissful whole week to prepare for City, which is a novelty. For me, we needed four points out of these two Manc fixtures, so we’ve got to go for a win. At the very least we need a better approach than the Goons, which was to turn up and roll over like a stoned golden retriever and wait for our bellies to be tickled.