It was a hell of performance, just when the team needed it.
Coming off the defeat last week and the nothing game that was Schalke, United needed to play a big game and then did so. The Old Trafford roar provided the 12th man, and Chelsea floundered for large parts of the game.
It was a great start, more of a gift from a poor Luiz then anything, though Hernandez took the gift wrapped chance well. United piled on the pressure, giving the occasion the performance that it needed and should have been streaks ahead by the time the second goal came, a typically slick move from Giggs to find Vidic, who may never have a more important moment as Captain.
United were then content to play their classic sit-deep and defend style football, hitting a vulnerable Chelsea on the break. The Blues lacked something going forward, or maybe it was just the titanic game that the makeshift United defence played, perhaps to its detriment, as Ferdinand and O’Shea both took knocks. By the end, the back four consisted entirely of centre-backs, but limited Chelsea to long shots, the lone exception being Lampard’s somewhat lucky equalizer.
It was a nervy finish, not helped by the chances that United failed to take, especially Rooney, who had a great game otherwise. Valencia and Park worked tirelessly to pressure Chelsea and threaten them on the wings, while Giggs, in his 20th year, was an ever-present danger. It was more touch-and-go then it should have been, but the result was got.
United have been dominant over Chelsea this season, picking up three wins to one defeat. They know this Chelsea teams weaknesses – they’re older, slower, less imaginative. Torres remains an expensive punchline. Now, United, despite having a very poor first half of the season, are a point away from being champions of England for the 19th time, a very important moment in the history of the club and the league.
Beyond that, it has been said by many commentators that, if we play like this from the off, United could beat Barca in the Champions League final. It’s true enough, but performances like this are difficult to replicate.