Five reasons Manchester United will still win the league title
Wednesday 02 March 2011
Chelsea pulled off a brilliant victory last night but there were still signs aplenty of why Manchester United have the edge this season and why they look set to hold off Arsenal, who are now just four points behind with a game in hand, to claim the title. Chelsea can be pleased after last night but United need not fear.
1 Spectacular Rooney on the edge
All the fuss about whether or not Wayne Rooney should have been banned from last night's game for his elbow on Wigan Athletic's James McCarthy clearly had not affected the England striker, who scored with an explosive flourish after 30 minutes and then celebrated provocatively, posing with his arms spread wide in front of the Chelsea fans in the Matthew Harding Stand. The darker side of his game is never far from the surface, but he managed to keep his temper in check when it looked at first that he might lash out after a physical tussle with David Luiz. He was a threat all night.
2 Torres still finding his feet
For Chelsea, Fernando Torres is still yet to score in four games following his £50m move from Liverpool, but his confidence has not evaporated just yet, given the flamboyant way he went about his tussle with his old adversary Nemanja Vidic. The Spaniard did finally hit the back of the net, with a bouncing shot that ballooned into the goal, but referee Martin Atkinson had already blown his whistle for an infringement by Luiz. Torres's control and movement were sharp – the problem was Chelsea did not have enough of the ball to get it too him.
3 Van der Sar is a tough act to follow
Most men in their 40s have long since given up playing amateur football, but Edwin van der Sar is still performing at the same high standard into his 41st year. His improvised save to flick the ball away from Branislav Ivanovic, while the goalkeeper was on the ground having parried Frank Lampard's fierce freekick, was a moment of brilliance. His decision to retire at the end of the season will leave Sir Alex Ferguson with a big hole to fill. In many respects the ideal replacement was in goal for Chelsea last night, but there is no chance the Londoners would let Petr Cech leave for one of their main rivals.
4 Ancelotti's tactics played into United's hands
Chelsea started the game with a traditional 4-4-2 system that had worked last week in Copenhagen, but it failed last night, as the strikers were left isolated by Chelsea's midfield, which was outnumbered whenever United's wide players dropped deeper. Chelsea players also got in each other's way at times. Earlier in the season their interplay was intuitive, but last night it was laboured at times. It was individual brilliance (and luck with the penalty), not tactics, that earned them the victory.
5 Depth of squad
Chelsea strengthened in January with the arrivals of Torres and Luiz. However, their squad still looks thin compared to United's. When both managers looked to make changes in the second half, Carlo Ancelotti turned to Didier Drogba and Yuri Zhirkov. Ferguson, in contrast, was able to bring on Dimitar Berbatov and Ryan Giggs. He also has Antonio Valencia waiting in the wings and he will be back before the season's out.
Latest in Sport
Arsenal transfer news: Karim Benzema, Edinson Cavani and Gregorz Krychowiak were all linked but Wenger and Gunners fail on deadline day
Arsenal transfer news: Gunners fans devastated as they become only team in top 5 European leagues not to sign outfield player
David De Gea: Manchester United in bitter war of words with Real Madrid over failed transfer
David De Gea, Peter Odemwingie and the 18 weirdest transfer deadline day stories
Anthony Martial fee: 'Add-on' includes Manchester United signing winning the Ballon d'Or
- 2 Moscow voted the world's unfriendliest city
- 3 The excuses your boss is most likely to believe when you call in sick
- 4 I'm pansexual – here are the five biggest misconceptions about my sexuality
- 5 More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don’t change Europe’s attitude to refugees, what will?
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be