Manchester United beat a very disappointing Chelsea team 3-0 at Old Trafford on Sunday, confirming that they are leaders Liverpool’s main challengers.
Nemanja Vidic’s header on the stroke of half-time was followed by second-half goals for Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov as the champions ran out comfortable victors.
With the loss, the pressure will continue to mount on Chelsea boss Luiz Felipe Scolari as this was one of the worst Chelsea displays I have seen in several years. Scolari seems to lack the tactical awareness of Jose Mourinho, and even Avram Grant, and he seems to have no clue as to his best line-up or formation and we are five months into the season. When you are two nil down to your main rival, is changing right backs really the best move Scolari could have made?
The Chelsea back four, the traditional strength of the team, gave up another two goals to set pieces. That makes it three out of the last four league goals Chelsea have conceded have came from corners or free kicks. Under Jose Mourinho, Chelsea’s defensive strength was so good that teams often felt that if Chelsea scored the game was over as they could not score on the Blues. Not anymore.
In midfield Deco was once again invisible, as was Ballack and Cole. Up front Drogba’s lack of match fitness was apparent and not even the introduction of Anelka at half time could help Chelsea. The longer the game went, the more Chelsea were opened up and it could have easily been more than three.
Chelsea need to go to Liverpool and Aston Villa in the next five league games. After today’s result Chelsea will have to come away with at least four points if they have any hope of wining the league this season. If they don’t, and go out to Juventus in the Champions League then I expect that Scolari will be looking for a new job this summer.
For United they know that they now have the opportunity to go to the top of the table for the first time this season if they can beat Wigan Athletic on Wednesday and Bolton Wanderers on Saturday. That will put even more pressure on Rafa’s Liverpool ahead of their Derby game with Everton on Monday.