There’s no denying that Manchester United ran out deserved victors against Chelsea in their crunch Premier League clash and it has all but wrapped up United’s charge for a record 19th English title.
Six points clear of second placed Chelsea and two games remaining, only a disaster would see the this seasons Premier League title head to London rather than Manchester. Not only did they overcome fierce rivals in their bid to claim the title this season, they did so in typical Manchester United style as well, albeit for some poor finishing in the second half.
The game was barely underway when Javier Hernandez broke free of the Chelsea back line and slotted a cool one on one finish past an outstretched Petr Cech, courtesy of a lovely through ball from Park Ji Sung. That takes the Mexican’s goal tally this season to 20 goals in all competitions, an amazing return in his first full season in Europe. United’s struck again in the 23rd minute to send the Old Trafford faithful into raptures, as Nemanja Vidic got on the end of a Ryan Giggs cross to head home from point blank range. The header was well taken but it was the Welshman Giggs who takes the plaudits here, the architect as his lovely jink and well placed cross lead to the goal. Amazingly, this is Giggs fourth assist in his last three games against Chelsea, an unbelievable return for the 37 year old, and a continuing sign that he is still so vital to the side.
Chelsea got a goal back through Frank Lampard as he reacted quickest to stab home from close range midway through the second half, but United weren’t to be denied victory, despite the final 10 minutes being extremely nervy for the Old Trafford faithful. United were unfortunate time and time again by poor finishing which could have seen the result put beyond doubt and give the supporters peace of mind.
The scoreline however, does not serve justice to the performance, as United showed why they deserved the title this season, dismantling Chelsea from the first minute in a comprehensive victory. Chelsea could have had a man sent off, United were potentially denied two penalties and the men in Red missed a hat full of chances the would usually have found the back of the net, but in the end it didn’t matter.
United played like champions. From the ever reliable van der Sar in goals, showing that even at the age of 40 he is able to pull off point blank reaction saves, to the defensive pairing of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, United’s rock at the back, supported by John O’Shea and Fabio da Silva. The sharpness of Giggs dazzling in midfield, rolling back the years to wow the fans time and time again and the constant threat that is Antonio Valencia, getting to the by-line effortlessly and turning the Chelsea backline inside out on countless occasions. Aided by, and linking up with ‘Three-Lunged Park’, a real bundle of energy all over the pitch and Michael Carrick, who had Lampard under his thumb all match. Finally, United’s front men, Rooney who looked as though he was a man on a mission, determined to fire United to victory, spraying ball after ball to either flank, looking to play the killer ball through for team mates and should have had a goal next to his name, and of course the ‘Little Pea’, Hernandez, superb movement, link-up play and a constant thorn in Chelsea’s side.
They might not be Sir Alex Ferguson’s best side, but they certainly don’t know what it means to be beaten, and their desire to win is what set them apart this season.
With the Premier League title all but theirs, United can now shift their focus to Barcelona, and the Champions League Final.
The Premier League is one thing, the Champions League is another, and Barcelona will certainly be out to spoil the party.
But if United play the way they did against Chelsea, we’ll definitely be in for a treat.