MANCHESTER – Following the dramatic late 1-1 draw between Manchester United and Chelsea on Sunday at Old Trafford, the away side will be left scratching their heads after a late goal saved a point for United.
[RELATED: Watch full match replays]
We learned plenty about both teams at Old Trafford in an end-to-end clash which produced a fitting finale and several memorable storylines.
Here’s three things which stood out…
Cesc Fabregas can be stopped
In the first half Cesc Fabregas barely influenced the game as Manchester United’s gameplan worked a treat. In midfield the Red Devils had Daley Blind in the holding role, then placed Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata in advanced roles to push Chelsea’s midfield back. It worked. With Fabregas pushed deeper and Chelsea having no space in the center of midfield, the Spanish playmaker was wandering around aimlessly as Chelsea had “done a job on him” up until that point. Of course Cesc wasn’t going to be silences for the entire 90 minutes. The Chelsea man whipped in the corner which Drogba scored from, recording his eighth assists in nine PL matches this season. He popped up to create the Chelsea’s goal, but for most of the afternoon United gave the rest of the PL hope. Cesc can be stopped.
David De Gea can’t do it all on his own
Manchester United’s young Spanish ‘keeper is quickly becoming their most important player after several stunning displays. That is not hyperbole. On Sunday De Gea thwarted Drogba just before half time with a great stop down low with his feet, then stood his ground excellently as Eden Hazard stormed through on goal just before Drogba’s opener in the second half. Rumors are rife that Real Madrid are stepping up their pursuit of the 23-year-old Spanish international. On this form, you can understand why. Terrible marking from Rafael to allow Drogba to score the first, then bad giveaways by numerous players in front of the back four meant De Gea wasn’t getting much help from his defenders. United’s last-line of defense will have a busy season as he provided them with the platform to nick a late point.
Still plenty of life left in the old guys
Two veteran strikers stole the show at Old Trafford on Sunday, as Robin van Persie and Didier Drogba were on target. Drogba bagged the opener, his first PL goal since arriving back at Chelsea this summer. The club legend left in 2012 following the euphoria of scoring the winning penalty kick in the UEFA Champions League. Many told him it was a bad idea to return to play for a club where he was considered a hero during his heyday, but the veteran striker proved their is plenty of life left in him ye. Drogba started his first game in the Premier League this season in the absence of Diego Costa and Loic Remy through injury and grabbed what looked like being the winner. 36-year-old Drogba scored with a bullet header, as the Ivorian rose high above Rafael at the near post, before sliding on his knees to celebrate his first PL goal since March 2012 in front of his adoring Chelsea fans. It’s like he never left.
Van Persie was at it too, as the 31-year-old Dutchman hammered home in stoppage time after being denied by Thibaut Courtois on three occasions during the match. RVP never gave up, and United’s captain sealed a crucial point for Louis van Gaal’s side. With Wayne Rooney and Radamel Falcao out, van Persie came up big when it mattered most.