A day in which everything went according to plan for the Manchester clubs, even if it didn’t, really. United beat West Ham 4-0 at Upton Park despite their severe defensive injury crisis and City survived an early own goal and a second half penalty to turn over Chelsea at Eastlands.
Manchester United – the walking wounded
For Manchester United, the big story out of today’s 4-0 win away at Upton Park wasn’t the efficiency of the win or the hope amongst United faithful that Gibson is the real deal, but the fact that United now have their whole defence injured – first choice or second choice.
John O’Shea, Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans, Rafael, Fabio and Nemanja Vidic were out before the West Ham game, and by the end of it Wes Brown and Gary Neville and joined them with knocks picked up during the game.
“I don’t know how we’re going to get a back four together for Tuesday [Wolfsburg, Champions League]. I’m hoping Nemanja (out with flu) will be OK and I will probably play Michael Carrick with him in defence.”
Edwin van der Sar has an injury as well but with Kuszczak and Foster as backups, at least Ferguson has bodies to call upon in goal.
United will be pulling Carrick and Fletcher from midfield to shore up their defence, and they will be thanking their stars that Gibson and Anderson are hitting a good patch of form (in Gibson’s case, 3 goals from 2 games) and can deputise in the center of the pitch.
With Rooney and Valencia scoring and Berba and Owen getting minutes on the pitch, at least United have a potent attack to keep opponents at bay.
Manchester City find more chinks in Chelsea’s armour
They’re not invincible, this lot, not by a long shot. The hype could have fooled you – City’s long string of draws hid the fact that they have invariably upped their game when faced with top-quality opposition, and Chelsea have struggled away from home when faced with teams that have a real go at them.
Today City conceded an early goal, unfortunate but hardly disasterous – if anything it was the best time to concede because it gave them time to get back into the game.
Tevez scored a good free kick but one that Cech should never have let in – and the big man’s mistake was highlighted in stark fashion as Given saved a Lampard penalty at the other end. Tevez had plenty of time on the ball and showed the good and bad sides of his game – hardworking, always fighting, but also very poor with his final ball and unable to play the right pass when needed. He scored the winning goal, but it’s doubtful that he’ll be missed in the red half of Manchester. Even City fans have been frustrated with him in recent weeks…
City ended the game on a high (Shay Given is undoubtedly their best signing yet) and above Liverpool in the league (who drew away to Blackburn and drop down to 7t), and they’ll be hoping that they can beat the likes of Hull next time around as well.
Manchester United have the best away record in the Premier League this season – they have scored more goals (18) and conceded the fewest (6) than anyone else. Along with Chelsea they have taken the most points away from home as well (15 out of a possible 24).
Manchester City have now beaten Arsenal and Chelsea at the Eastlands, although they’ve lost away to Old Trafford and drawn at Anfield. 7 points from 12 is a fair return for a side tipped to breaking into the top four, although their form against the lesser lights in the league will keep Hughes busy during the rest of the season.
This is Chelsea’s second defeat on the road this week and the third game they’ve played AWAY from home in 7 days. The 3-0 win away to Arsenal, in context of these two subsequent defeats, shows more problems with Arsenal than proving Chelsea’s supposed superiority over the rest of the league.
Chelsea are still the team to beat in the league – they have an almost spotless home record and have the squad depth to lead the charge for the title. Liverpool, Arsenal and even Manchester United are now struggling with injuries, and if Chelsea can stay fit and can stay in front till Saturday, April 3 2010 (Old Trafford)…