In what proved out to be the most exciting and perhaps controversial game of the season so far, Manchester United defeated Chelsea 3-2 on Sunday to finally put an end to their winless streak at the daunting Stamford Bridge.
The Red Devils took a two goal lead in the first quarter of an hour, before Chelsea showcased a spirited comeback to level term just after the half-time.
What followed afterwards were two red-cards to the home team, before Javier Hernandez netted in the winner from an off-side position in the 75th minute.
Let us have a look at three things we learned from the game.
1. Ferguson Got His Tactics Right
Many a time over the past two or three seasons, Alex Ferguson has been guilty of committing horrendous tactical decisions in big games.
However, against Chelsea, the Scot deployed the perfect tactics to counter Chelsea’s attacking and fluent game.
He returned to the traditional 4-4-2, but with Rooney in much deeper role and with more emphasis on counter-attacks via Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia.
The flanks of the Blues were exploited due to the pace of United’s winger and the unwillingness of the attacking trio of Hazard, Oscar and Mata to track back.
At the back, United shut down the space between the midfield and the two centre backs, which often resulted in one of Chelsea’s attackers drifting back to unlock the Red Devils’ play and thus, this subsequently restricted the Blues’ attacking prowess.
Moreover, after Chelsea were reduced to ten men, Fergie made a highly-attacking substitution by bringing on Hernandez for Englishman Tom Cleverley as he understood the fact the depleted opposition would struggle against the movement and instincts of the ‘Little Pea’.
Many might argue that he has ‘lost his touch’ over the years, but the game on Sunday night clearly showed us the Ferguson can very well compete with the modernized world of football tactics and formations.
2. The Referee Ruined the Game
It has to be said, Chelsea were hard done by Mark Clattenburg.
Although Branislav Ivanovic deserved to be sent-off for the last-man tackle on Ashley Young, but issuing a second yellow-card to Fernando Torres for an apparent dive was slightly too bold and in-fact a mistake by the infamous ref.
The replays might suggest that there was only minimal contact between him and Evans and the Spaniard might have tried to make mockery out of the tackle, but in no way was it deserving of a second booking.
The likes of Ashley Young, Luis Suarez and even Andy Carroll have gotten away with worse dives and El Nino’s sending-off clearly ruined the game.
Not to forget the officials also allowed an off-side winner from Hernandez.
3. Chelsea Showed ‘Champions’ Spirit’
Although they were outplayed in the first thirty minutes, Roberto Di Matteo’s change in tactics and the Blues’ subsequent comeback clearly showed the fans that the FA Cup-holders are, what one would say, made up of ‘Champions Material’.
Had it not been Ivanovic’s sending-off, Chelsea would have even gone on to win the game. The threat of Hazard and Mata clearly slaughtered United as the European champions started to gain momentum their lively pressing confined the Red Devils to the back-foot.
However, they do lack some depth in the striking department as Torres is yet to discover his true potential since ditching the Reds’ for the Blues’.
Nonetheless, even with a misfiring striker, Di Matteo and his men are one the classiest teams in England right now and even though they’ve lost two games on the trot now, the season still looks bright for them.