When healthy, Didier Drogba is not used to sitting on the bench for Chelsea. Last Saturday, in the big title showdown with Manchester United, manager Carlo Ancelotti had him doing just that.
Camera shots of Drogba sitting in one of the massive automobile-like bucket seats at Old Trafford showed a man a bit annoyed with the manager's choice. Perhaps that is the reaction Ancelotti was hoping for, for when he called upon his big striker in the second half, Drogba delivered. A powerful goal in the 78th minute that put the Blues up 2-0. Drogba was unquestionably offside, a fact missed by the assistant referee. But the goal counted, and a beautiful finish it was, despite the infraction.
Manchester United added a controversial goal of their own a couple minutes later to climb within a goal. A deflection that appeared to go in off the arm of the young 19 year old Italian Federico Macheda and past Chelsea keeper Petr Cech, was allowed as well. Tit for tat, apparently.
A tense final ten minutes finally saw Chelsea hold on at Old Trafford and take a bit of control of the Premier League title race. Chelsea sits with 74 points, Manchester United 72. Arsenal is still within reach as well with 71. All three teams have five games remaining.
Chelsea has three games left at Stamford Bridge and two on the road. Their biggest challenge appears to be traveling to Anfield to take on Liverpool. Manchester United still has a derby with Manchester City to be wary of. Arsenal also has Manchester City on the schedule. The title race appears to be going down to the final weekend. On that final day, May 9th, Chelsea plays Wigan at home, United takes on Stoke City at Old Trafford, and Arsenal gets Fulham at home.
If Chelsea does end up winning the title, they might have to point to their record against the "Big Four" as the biggest reason why. Chelsea is 2-0 against United and Arsenal, and 1-0 against Liverpool. All possible 15 points have been secured. Of course, Liverpool, still grouped in with Chelsea, United and Arsenal when the "Big Four" are mentioned, may not be for long. Manchester City appears on track to finish ahead of Liverpool and steal the coveted 4th spot, meaning a Champion's League go round next season.
After Chelsea's huge victory at Old Trafford, Ancelotti downplayed the fact that his superstar Drogba had started the game on the bench."
"It is not important to start the game," he said in the press conference. "It is important to play in the game and play well."
Play well Drogba did. Chelsea, in addition to their chase of the League Title, have their eyes set on a FA Cup title as well. They play Aston Villa on Saturday. Despite the fact that Ancelotti claims it is not important who starts the game, here's betting the big Ivorian striker is in the starting 11.
It just didn't seem right to seem him on the bench.....