Manchester United dropped to third and 5 points behind Chelsea following a 1-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge. United will be disappointed to have come away from the game empty handed following a rare strong performance against a fellow top 4 team.
The game was a lively one with Ivanovic, Drogba and Anelka all going close early whilst Rooney saw an effort blocked by Carvalho and Carrick and Giggs both kept Cech interested.
Early decisions went Chelsea’s way when Wayne Rooney was wrongly adjudged to have been offside when a delightful Anderson put put him clear through on goal whilst John Terry was lucky to get away with tugging Antonio Valencia to the floor in the Chelsea area.
Although Man Utd had not seriously tested Petr Cech they were by far the more comfortable team in the first half despite Anelka having the best chances and would have gone in at half time content with their performance.
The second half got off to a flying start as Manchester United’s midfield general Darren Fletcher had a fierce drive blocked by Carvalho whilst Lampard’s shot at the other end was comfortably saved by Edwin Van der Sar.
Wayne Rooney next went close shooting just past Cech’s post then forcing a save from the Chelsea keeper with a beautifully curling shot from distance.
The games turning point came on the 75th minute when Fletcher was deemed to have fouled Ashley Cole and from the resulting free kick John Terry glanced in a header to give Chelsea the 1-0 lead.
United were furious and Rooney’s protests saw him booked as they argued that Fletcher had won the ball fairly, Drogba had fouled Wes Brown whilst the set piece was taken and was also offside and interfering with play as the ball hit the net.
United pressed forward, introducing Gabriel Obertan and Michael Owen in search of an equaliser but the best they could muster was a shot wide from Valencia, a blocked effort from Obertan and a header over the bar by Jonny Evans thus keeping Chelsea’s record of not having conceded a home goal in the league since the opening day of the season in tact.
United can take heart from their performance as they deserved at least a point from the game unlike their poor showing at Anfield last month. Despite missing Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Dimitar Berbatov, United had more shots on and off target and 7 corners to Chelsea’s 0.
But Sir Alex Ferguson will be worried that this is their second away defeat to another ‘big four’ team this season having only picked up a single point away against the ‘big four’ last season and that following the result United are now third behind Arsenal on goal difference who also have a game in hand and 5 points behind Chelsea.