Chelsea continued their impressive home-record against Manchester United, as a David Luiz strike and Frank Lampard penalty completed the comeback after Wayne Rooney had given them the lead early on.
It was the fifth anniversary of the death of Peter Osgood and Carlo Ancelotti’s men paid a great tribute to the ‘King of Stamford Bridge’ with a thumping victory.
Carlo Ancelotti made only one change from the team that started against F.C. København in Europe, as David Luiz came back into the team after being ineligible to play for us in Europe, while United retained their team that did the job at the weekend.
Both teams started with a 4-4-2 formation, and quite contrary to the usual big games, this was a very open game from the beginning as the space created by the two systems allowed both the teams to play more freely, not necessarily with control though.
Fernando Torres had the ball in the back of the net from a decent finish from the edge of the area inside the first ten minutes, but the Referee had already blown the whistle for a foul inside the box, so the Spaniard’s wait for his first goal in Blue had to continue a little longer.
After the initial exchanges, both teams started to settle down, but the game still maintained a very high tempo and had a sense of occasion about it. Florent Malouda had the best chance in the opening quarter of an hour when he received the ball on the edge of the penalty area, but his shot was tame and straight into keeper’s hand.
Manchester United started to enjoy the better of the possession as our flat four allowed them more space, resulting in better chances, and could have taken the lead when Evra had the ball across the goal but there was no one to put the finishing touches to it.
Just minutes after that, Wayne Rooney was allowed to turn and shoot from over 20 yards, and his shot had enough power and precision that Cech couldn’t do anything about it.
Chelsea could have had the equaliser just before the half-time break when a high-velocity Frank Lampard free-kick made it out to Ivanovic, but Van Der Sar was there to save, not once, not twice, but three times and kept out the Blues.
We went into the half-time a goal behind, and if our current form was to go by with, it was worrying thing that we were a goal behind.
Carlo didn’t make any changes to the team at the start of the second half but there was stark contrast in the tactics as we started to press more and put pressure on the Manchester United players, but the fact that United started to sit even deeper helped us as well.
It wasn’t long before we got the equaliser, and it was the first goal from our new signing, but it wasn’t Fernando Torres who got it, rather it was the ever-impressive David Luiz who got the goal. The ball looped to him after a free-kick wasn’t properly cleared and Ivanovic headed it back in which fell to Luiz, whose sweetly timed shot was so good that even Osgood would have been proud of it.
Didier Drogba was introduced on the hour mark in place of Nicolas Anelka to help us get the next goal, as we looked to continue to put pressure and complete the comeback and thereby not fall back even further in the League.
David Luiz was then booked, but that didn’t stop him from going full-blooded into challenges and sometimes being a little cynical as well, not that any Chelsea fan is complaining about it. He was then taken off with a little hamstring problem, a blessing in disguise since he could have been sent off, to a standing ovation.
Yuri Zhirkov was introduced in place of the subdued Malouda, who after starting the game well, but then went into a shell and was rightly substituted.
Zhirkov then made a telling contribution to the game when he earned us a penalty after Smalling’s standing leg caught him and Referee Martin Atkinson awarded the penalty which was nicely converted by Frank Lampard to score his fourth League goal of the season.
Zhirkov could have scored himself late on too, but his sweetly struck shot was deflected of Vidic and on to the post for a corner.
Ryan Giggs and Dimitar Berbatov were introduced by Sir Alex to no avail. Only thing that Ryan Giggs, making his record number of appearances, witnessed was a lesson in keep ball from Drogba and Ramires, which resulted in the Welshman lashing out at Didier and earning a booking.
It was a well earned win for the Blues in this pulsating clash, which slightly eases the pressure on Carlo Ancelotti and hopefully puts our season back on track. Still, there are lots of points that need to be addressed.
Even though David Luiz had a wonderful game and has now become the darling of the Chelsea fans, he still has lots of rough edges, which one would hope that will get eradicated or at least get fine tuned with time.
The League still may be out of reach for us, but this win holds us in good stead for the rest of the season, which would be full of goals if we continue to play the same system as it gives us no protection to our defence, leaving it open to attacks. I hope we don’t go in with a philosophy of ‘no matter how much you score, we will score more’ from now on.
One thing is for sure, we are in a good moment.
Carlo Ancelotti was satisfied with his team’s performance, but conceded that Luiz could have been sent off today, he said; “It was a good performance and we are still alive. We played well, it was a very difficult game and we found a fantastic opponent but the team played really well to still go forward when we are losing 1-0.”
“We kept going with strength, intensity and power in our performance. It was really good but if you don’t play well, you cannot beat Man Utd.”
On the referee, Carlo noted; “There was a lot of intensity and it was not easy for the referee to decide every time”
“David Luiz could be lucky but there was a lot going on the pitch so the referee decided he didn’t see this.”
Chelsea (4-4-2): Cech, Ivanovic, David Luiz (Bosingwa 80), Terry (c), Cole, Ramires, Essien, Lampard, Malouda (Zhirkov 70), Anelka (Drogba 60), Torres.
Goals: David Luiz 54, Lampard pen 80.