Because talking about Controversy is too mainstream…

Two things which first come to our mind after this clash – For the Red devils it was a victory at Stamford Bridge after a decade while for the Blues – their unbeaten run this season comes to an end. Is there any specific reason for it? Any guesses? It’s on everyone’s lips – poor and controversial official decisions.

Mark Clattenburg has surely been the most talked person this week in English Football (and criticized too) for his officiating, while Chelsea have lodged an official complaint against him for using ‘inappropriate’ language against two of their players. But this is all part of the game, and if you think about it closely you won’t even remember this after a few months. Manchester United had the same feeling in Chelsea’s title winning season in 2010-11 in a 2-1 loss to the Blues at Old Trafford, when Didier Drogba was allowed the second goal after being a yard offside. But no one really cares about it now; a better option is to see what we can learn from this high profile encounter.

Juan Mata – it’s a shame to see such a classy and talented attacker still not being able to cement his place in the La Roja team. Since his big money move from Valencia in 2011, he has been one of the main sources of creativity in the Chelsea midfield. Where once there was a time Chelsea were criticized for their 30+ age players and lack of pace, Juan Mata has brought a different dimension to their offense. Chelsea are now known to keep good possession and control the ball well in the opponent’s half in comparison to the team that depended on Didier Drogba for goals till his departure to China. On Sunday afternoon as well, the number 10 single-handedly inspired a comeback from 2-0 down until some unfortunate decisions. His curled free kick executed perfectly was one of the best set pieces we have seen this season, and we shall see more.

Mata’s statistics this season have been quite outstanding. Though he might have been overshadowed by the arrival of the technically gifted duo of Eden Hazard and Oscar, he has created the most number of goal scoring chances (after Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla).

*MP-Minutes Played
TP-Total passes
PA%-Pass accuracy
F3P- Final third passes
F3P%- Final third pass accuracy
CC- Chances created
CCO-Open play CC
CCS-Set play CC
TGA- Total goal assists
CCC- Clear cut chances

‘’A clear-cut chance is a chance that finds the attacking player with a FREE shot at goal (penalty, one-on-one, only keeper to beat) without any pressure from a defender.’’

Minutes per goal is where Mata scores- a goal every 196 minutes. That is almost a ratio of 1 in 2 (most strikers would be happy with that) while creating a goal scoring chance every 30 minutes. More important is that, Mata looks like more of a team player now. His increased work rate and selfless nature with the ball has surely won the hearts of the Stamford Bridge audience. He drops back to get the ball, has always got an eye for the ‘killer’ ball and keeps possession beautifully with his fellow musketeers (Oscar and Hazard).
This lad has surely a great future at Chelsea, and his ability to turn things around for his team was clearly evident against Manchester United. Hope this stylish lad stays in the Premier league for a long time!

This one’s for the United fans. Their shot-stopper David de Gae , was another Spanish player to have impressed me this Sunday. Signed for a British record fee for a goalkeeper at around £17 million, David de Gea joined Manchester United last season with an enviable reputation. Manchester United have a history of goal keepers who could never settle and cement their place for a long period. Whereas Massimo Taibi, Tim Howard, Tomasz Kuszczak – and list goes on – could never establish themselves as no.1 for the team, Da gae has still a long way to go to fulfill his potential.
He has won more trophies than some established EPL goalkeepers have won in their entire careers and is already worth much more than them financially. Not a bad reputation for someone who will be turning 22 this year.
It is only natural to assume that he has developed a winning mentality, having tasted success at such a young age. All he had to do was acclimatize himself to the rigours of the Premier League, and he would be on the road to become a more-than-worthy goalkeeper for United.

So as you can see, David de Gea’s statistics definitely make him worthy of being in one the best teams in England and the world. He has fantastic distribution, his presence is growing in the team and he is surely working hard to get used to the physical nature of the Premier League.
Interestingly, David de Gea says he has been taking inspiration from Tottenham’s Brad Friedel to help him get to grips with life as a Premier League keeper.
“He is excellent in one-on-one situations and also when faced with free-kicks. Watching him makes me want to play for United when I’m 40!”

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His orthodox but innovative saves with his feet came into use on many occasions against Chelsea. I might say risky, but as Steve McMahon said on ESPN, he ‘got the job done’ in the end with his unique style. His first save came when a David Luiz free kick bounced a yard in front of him and he had to use his feet to keep the ball out. A Torres and Cahill header followed, but he managed to keep all of them out until Mata’s brilliant free kick.

“He’s just a unique talent. Ultimately, I think they come around in cycles. Iker Casillas was 17 when he got in the Real Madrid team, I saw Gianluigi Buffon when he was 17… The qualities we’ve all seen, and the manager has seen, have ticked the boxes. There is always an element of  ‘can they handle 76,000 at Old Trafford?’ but I’ve seen him play at the Nou Camp, man of the match. Not fazed.”
-Manchester United goalkeeper coach Eric Steele, July 2011.

The comparisons or expectations of replacing Edwin Van der Saar might be too much for the young high-flying Spaniard but it’s time United supporters started believing in him, since he’s the realistic future between the sticks considering his age and talent. He is surely one of the best shot stoppers in the world, though his capability to handle shots inside the box is still a concern. His recent claims that he won’t be moving to Spain since the growing speculation as a long time replacement for Real Madrid’s Iker Casillas has shown he is determined to stay here for a long time and fight for his place.

Another highlight of the match was the £24m signing, Robin Van Persie, who continued his excellent form scoring his seventh goal in 9 appearances. He’s proved that he’s worth every penny that Sir Alex Ferguson paid, and at a recent press conference the 70 year old Scot said ‘RVP could make a vital difference in the title race’.

The Dutchman contributed in both the first half goals for United against Chelsea, clinically finishing with his right foot inside the six yard box. His ability to perform in big matches has been a key factor and with the talented team around him in Wayne Rooney, Shinji Kagawa, Antonio Valencia he could reach the 30 goal mark for the second successive year. A positive sign for United who lost their crown on goal difference last season, he is surely the man who could get the goal count increasing tremendously.

Branislav Ivanović’s absence could mean this man could get an opportunity to fill in the position at right back. Chelsea completed the signing of Cesar Azpilicueta for an undisclosed fee, reported as £7 million. According to his teammate and countryman Juan Mata:

“He is a strong running right-back who has pace as well, so I think he is already a complete player.”

The 23 year-old who has represented Spain at all youth levels, has found opportunities limited ahead of the Serb who has been in great form. It might be a tough test for him since Chelsea play United for fourth round of Capital One (Home), then Swansea (Away) and then Liverpool (Home). Hope to see the best of him!

Hope there continues to be great passion among the supporters as it has always been, but let it not get over your head. There were many strong emotions felt after the Chelsea-United clash – disappointment, frustration and a feeling of loss which could not be explained. The whole world saw it, and lets not spoil the true spirit of the game due to some unintentional error of a human! The two teams again meet at Stamford Bridge for their Capital One fourth round clash on November 1 at 1:15am IST. Hope this turns out to be a fair and interesting encounter!

Taronish Elavia

Supports FC Barcelona, sells lies in the form of advertising. Occasionally writes poetry, always makes people smile.