Rating the Manchester United Players Against Chelsea

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Rating the Manchester United Players Against Chelsea
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Ramirez Takes the Fifth

It's a fair bet that both Manchester United and Chelsea would have been wanting to get it on again tonight. United to prove that Sunday was no fluke; Chelsea to get revenge for what they felt was a gross injustice.

No doubt some people would have looked at the team sheets before the match and thought Sir Alex wasn't necessarily bothered about winning the match. How wrong could they be?

You might say the key was in the two benches, with Chelsea's including the other two components of their wizard midfield trio and United's composed entirely of Under 21s.

The trick, however, was to win it in normal time. In that respect, Javier Hernandez's selection was inspired; Welbeck, Nani, Anderson, Giggs and Fletcher inevitable. They all need and deserve game time, none more so than Hernandez (Chicharito), who has now succeeded Solskjaer as "super-sub."

For a team that has never played together and, with the exception of Rafael, has had little game time, United looked organised and together, with a series of complex, close quarter passing moves in the first half especially.

In some senses, it was a calculated gamble by Sir Alex with the squad that he picked. Not one of the players who started or finished the match, or among the substitutes, was a regular first-team choice this season.

For those of us who have been waiting to see how some of the emerging talent at United would cope at the highest level, they could not have faced a tougher test than the current Premier League leaders.

In contrast to United, Chelsea finished the match with seven of the team who played against United on Sunday. With Torres now banned, you can make that eight for this weekend.

Whether they were under the owner's instructions or not, Chelsea threw more and more resource at getting the result. Mata, Luiz and Cahill have now played 210 minutes of football in four days. If there was any consolation for Sir Alex in the result, it was the possible knock-on effect at Swansea.

In contrast, United have a fully fresh squad for Saturday,  but a couple of the likely substitutes may be carrying knocks after this match.

Not surprisingly, there were changes by both sides at halftime. Buttner may have been United's weakest link, but actually, he had a trapped nerve (or maybe he didn't fancy another 45 minutes roasting by Moses). 

Chelsea's midfield needed stiffening up, but it wasn't the vulnerable and booked Romeu who departed, but Jon Obi Mikel.

After Tuesday's pulsating 7-5 win for Arsenal, few would have expected to experience another televised "goalfest." In the end, neither side could complain, and the neutrals would be delighted at 21 goals in two nights and 14 goals shared between the two teams who may slug out the title this year.

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