Manchester United took a commanding five point lead over Chelsea on Sunday by winning 3-1 over the London side. While United pulled out the win, they did not play well. They scored three goals by individual performances, but as a team they struggled.
Fernando Torres finally scored a goal to put Chelsea on the board, which may have been the worst news for United on Sunday. By awaking Torres, United may have unleashed a monster if he can come out of his slump to become a consistent star on an already strong Chelsea team.
Back to United, the side did not put on a performance that gives confidence to the fans. While they won, wins sometimes blur the problems the team has.
Let's go over some of these problems that Manchester United showed on Sunday.
Let me start with this. Phil Jones looked like a 26-year-old veteran with that run that led to the third goal. United have a star in the making with Jones, if you don't consider him a star already. Chris Smalling (he was a half yard offside, but the cross was perfect) had a goal and has a future ahead of him.
Enough with the positives. United's back line looked confused at points today. For example, Torres came in to the right of David De Gea with two open players making runs to the far post uncontested. De Gea made the save, but a lack of communication led to the mistake.
Patrice Evra has struggled throughout the year, especially with his positioning. Now he can make up for his mistakes with his speed, but as he gets older it will be harder to make up. His decline may have already started.
On Torres' goal, Jones' inexperience allowed Torres to get behind him and make the second half closer than it should have been. United continued their dominance of Old Trafford, and certainly the aura of the stadium gives them an advantage, but if United are to win on the road, this has to improve.
While the final scoreline was 3-1, the game was much closer than that. Both teams did not play well, but United made the most of its opportunities. Chelsea certainly had more chances than United, but United finished its chances while Chelsea struggled (cough Torres' second-half miss cough).
Having said that, United had some breaks in this game. Smalling was offsides on the first goal, but Chelsea still has to stop the cross. On the third goal by Rooney, Phil Jones' run was stopped, but a funny bounce led to Rooney's goal.
All I'm saying is that the game was a lot closer than the scoreline suggested. United deserved to win the game, but with the bounces, the game got out of hand.
Although Wayne Rooney scored on Sunday, he did not play well and struggled at points. Besides from missing a penalty, Rooney did not set himself up well when he was off the ball.
In addition, Chicharito played one of his worst games of the year on Sunday. His strength to his game is his runs, which were weak today. On Nani's goal, he had to do all the work and set himself up for a shot (thanks to Mata's reluctance to show any desire to stop Nani (how great was that shot)). Chicharito and Rooney did nothing to help out Nani, whose passing was good today.
In a game with a team of the quality that Chelsea boasts, Rooney and Chicharito disappeared. If this continues to happen, particularly if it happens on the road (no one can deny that United are more vulnerable on the road, as most teams are), Chelsea or Manchester City may overtake United in the long run.
While United did win, and took a five point lead over Chelsea, the way they played will not work in the second meeting between these two teams. United took care of business at home, but need to improve their performance if they are looking to beat better teams, even in the Champions League.
If the back line continues to struggle without Ferdinand and Vidic, United may have trouble winning games on the road. If Rooney and Chicharito put up a performance like Sunday's, then United may have some troubles throughout the season.
United took care of business today, but they should beware because they did not play well.
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