Thursday, November 1, 2012

Men Versus Boys: Chelsea 5 - Manchester United 4

photo by woodleywonderworksvia PhotoRee

Q. Ch-ch-ch-changes...?

A. Yes.  Four days on from their latest classic, it was changes galore as Chelsea faced Manchester United in the Capital One Cup at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday evening. Gone were Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie, replaced by Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck. Ryan Giggs made a return to the lineup, joining Darren Fletcher, Anderson and Nani in midfield. Rafael was the sole survivor from the weekend, and he was joined on defense by several other youngsters: Scott Wooton, Alexander Buttner and Michael Keane. Anders Lindeaard took the place of David De Gea in goal. Chelsea's lineup was slightly less changed, with Petr Cech, Jon Obi Mikel, Juan Mata and David Luiz reprising their starting roles from Sunday.

Q. Did the game have the same tense atmosphere as Sunday's affair...?

A. Not quite, although it was serious, at least initially. Until Daniel Sturridge tripped over the ball after he broke clear through on goal. And the United away fans unveiled a banner which read "Chelsea: Standing Up To Racism Since Last Sunday." Those two occurrences brought some much needed levity to the early proceedings.

Q. Who stood out most for you in the first half?

A. Chelsea'a Victor Moses played as if he had a point to prove...which in a way, he did. But it was Ryan Giggs who hit the blow that mattered most early on. Ando robbed Romeu of an ill-conceived Petr Cech kick out, and when the Brazilian poked the ball free to Giggsy it was never going to end any other way but 1-0.

Q. 1-nil into halftime?

A. Not after Victor Moses abused Buttner in the box, the Dutchman scything down the Chelsea player and giving Referee Lee Mason no option but to point to the spot. Sideshow Bob powered the ball past a diving Lindegaard and we were back to level.

Q. So, 1-1 at the half?

A. Not quite yet. Sideshow Bob was once again involved in a score, as he was robbed of the ball after yet another foolish midfield jaunt. When Ando put Chicharito through, 2-1 was all but nailed on; Cech must see Chicharito in his nightmares these days.

Q. With these two teams that lead didn't hold up, did it....?

A. Of course not. Chelsea really wanted this game. Just after Gary Cahill drew the Blues level again, they rolled out the starting midfield, with Ramires and Eden Hazard among the regulars to come off the bench and see some playing time.  Although Nani dinked Cech to reclaim the lead and send the visiting fans behind the goal into delirium -- Ando's third assist of the evening, by the way -- even that wasn't enough.

Q. Defensive breakdowns to blame?

A. Not really; we'll put it down to personnel choices. While Chelsea brought on their "A" team (Oscar eventually joined Hazard and Ramires), Sir Alex countered with Nick Powell and Ryan Tunnicliffe (and Federico Macheda late on). Put another way, Sir Alex treated the game as an opportunity to blood the youth team, while Roberto Di Matteo coached as if his job was on the line. In truth, the young defense acquitted itself quite well, and the Reds almost held up. Almost, but not quite....

Q. What happened?

A. A second penalty, in the 94th minute of the contest. While the offense by Scott Wooton may have been debatable, Hazard's dispatch was not. All tied, the teams then went to extra time.

Q.  Did Chelsea dominate the extra period?

A. It was more of a mistake by United that led to the first Chelsea lead of the evening, and once again it was Wooton wearing the horns. Heading a ball directly into the path of Daniel Sturridge, Wooton was made to pay for the second time since the clock hit the 90 minute mark.

Q. Doesn't sound good....  How'd it end?

A. With Ramires handing his side a two goal lead in the 25th minute of the extra period. Although that's not technically true -- Ryan Giggs pulled back a late one on a penalty -- the ghost was given up with the fifth Chelsea goal. The Blues just wanted this one more - it was men against boys at the end of the day.

FT: Chelsea A: 5, United B: 4.  This is farlieonfootie for November 1.

No comments:

Post a Comment