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Reaction to the Chelsea game…

by Sam Peoples

De Gea makes a world class save from Mata's pinpoint free-kick to stop Chelsea winning the game. Photo: Stefan Wermuth (Reuters)

1. A performance of true champions. On the eve of the Munich Disaster’s anniversary, United have turned back time and put in a Busby Babe performance to salvage a point from the jaws of a 3-0 whitewash at the cursed Bridge. I’ll be the first to admit that my head was in my lap after the second own goal of the night put Chelsea three goals up but few could have envisaged the display that United put on in that second half. The introduction of Scholes and Hernandez changed the game completely and after Rooney confidently put away both penalties, United always looked like the more likely side to score again. Some may well see this as two points dropped but I would of taken a point before the game and my stance hasn’t changed at all. No other team could have put in a comeback of such magnitude and I am proud to have watched us dig our heels in once again and somehow come out of this game without losing – Sir Matt Busby will be smiling in his grave.

2. De Gea sticks it to the critics. What a save, what an unbelievable save. Would any other goalkeeper in the league have reached the ball? Possibly not. Juan Mata could not have ran and placed the ball any better than he did and everybody in the stadium must have thought it was going in but De Gea’s naturally shot stopping ability came up trumps at crunch time as he tipped it around the post. To his defence, the only goal he played any part in was the first but even that is at a stretch as the unfortunate deflection off Evans was nobodies fault. The raw goalkeeping talent of De Gea was on display for everybody to see today as he made a number of important saves and it is that raw talent that saw SAF fork out nearly £20 million for the 20-year-old. As he stated in his post match interview, De Gea has struggled with the adaption to the Premier League but with patience and time, we might have the Buffon of our generation between our sticks. The performance he put in today was exactly what he needed and he now needs to use it as a stepping stone to start churning out consistent performances for us in every game he plays.

3. Hernandez needs more game time. Chelsea simply couldn’t control the diminutive Mexican as he weaved space and carved through their defence like butter. The movement he had throughout his performance, especially when he left David Luiz for dead as he slammed in the equalising header, was exactly why he has his predator reputation. Was he offside at the end? It must have been close but seeing as how regularly he does get caught just past the last man, I’d guess the linesman got it right. There must be some sort of way that Welbeck, Hernandez and Rooney can all play in the same starting formation? Possibly with Rooney as the attacking midfielder just behind Hernandez and Welbeck. The linkup play between Welbeck and Rooney was absolutely sublime throughout the game but I just crave Hernandez’ quick movement and darting runs when he isn’t on the pitch. As far as substitutions go, there are few as effective as Hernandez but as the run-in picks up pace this season, I think our Mexican will be pop up and score quite a few more important goals.

4. Rooney the conductor. My how we missed you, Wayne. Against Liverpool and Stoke, our midfield dictated the game with little to no penetration in the final third as we couldn’t find the cutting edge to split defences but with Rooney back in the mixer today, United had no problems with chance creation. The talisman performance that rightfully earned Rooney the Man of the Match award today was full of character, guts and most of all, pure talent. The confidence with which he stuck away both of his penalties, given the fact that he missed four of his last eight prior to the game, was fantastic especially considering today was his first game back from the injury he sustained against Arsenal. I hope this sparks another one of Rooney’s goal gluts but what we need from our star man is a consistent three months of football that will spearhead United to the top of the table. We need Rooney to find his 09/10 form and keep it because if we are going to have a chance at overhauling City at the top, we need everybody performing at the top level and on the merits of today, who is to say that won’t happen?

5. We miss you, Nemanja. United are a shadow of their defensive capabilities as of now. A makeshift defence that is constantly switching and swapping is not enabling us to get a firm grip on the back line, which is causing many mistakes to crop up in games. Evra was at fault for not closing Sturridge down before Evans unfortunately knocked it into his own net, Ferdinand was in no-mans land as Luiz’s header ricocheted off of his shoulder and the protection of De Gea’s goal was almost non existent. It must be noted that although Ferdinand is a hardened professional and would mentally block out crowds with ease, I can’t help but feel that the sickening boo’s from the crowds aimed at Ferdinand for standing by his brother Anton must have had an effect on him. Rio was caught out of place and pace a few times today and his twilight years are creeping up on him fast, so the sooner that Jones and Smalling return the better it is for us. Our best defensive performer today was Rafael who put in one of his most disciplined performances to date but overall, we leaked an amateur amount of space to a lacking Chelsea side who capitalised on the opportunities given to them.


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