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Manchester United 2-2 Chelsea: Lessons to be learned!

Well that was a turn up for the books wasn't it. What a second half performance from Chelsea and if it wasn't for a fantastic De Gea save, we would be through to another Semi Final at Wembley.It's important that we learn a few things from the game and ...

Well that was a turn up for the books, wasn’t it. What a second-half performance from Chelsea, and if it wasn’t for a fantastic De Gea save, we would be through to another semifinal at Wembley.
Ramires of Chelsea celebrates scoring his teaam's second goal during the FA Cup sponsored by Budweiser Sixth Round match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on March 10, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Ramires of Chelsea celebrates scoring his team’s second goal during the FA Cup Sixth Round match against Manchester United at Old Trafford on March 10, 2013 in Manchester, England.

It’s important that we learn a few things from the game and to not jump on the Rafa Benitez bandwagon here. I was bombarded by tweets last night telling me that I should be praising Rafa for the tactical substitutions he made. Obviously, I can see why people are saying that, but my argument is that the likes of Mikel and Eden Hazard should be playing from the start and not left on the bench.

Why did it take until seven minutes of the second half to make those changes? Why not at half-time?

The opening 25 minutes was just embarrassing to be honest. I will never understand what Petr Cech was doing for the first goal. If he had stayed on his line we could have dealt with the situation. Why on earth would you come out for a ball like that when Cahill is already there?

As for the second goal, why couldn’t Cech come out for the ball and deal with it. Why not come out and punch the ball and take everyone out at the same time? As far as I am concerned, if a ball like that is played in and is anywhere near the six yard box, it’s the goalkeeper’s responsibility.

I will be honest, as United made it 2-0, I thought the worst. Chelsea were shocking and although we started to play better, we went in at half-time looking out of the competition.

So this is my point, right then and there, the changes should have been made, but they weren’t. It was blatantly obvious that things needed to be changed for us to try and get back into the game.

Before the game, after seeing Rafa’s team selection, I tweeted the following:

No Terry to lead us. No Mikel to protect the back four and no Eden Hazard – top drawer Rafa once again!

I believe my point was made on 57 minutes with the introduction of Mikel and Hazard as both changed the game.

I had said before the game that United have an advantage over Chelsea because their formation is flexible and they have the players to switch during the course of a game.  However, it was almost like with the substitutions, Chelsea switched to the old school 4-3-3 formation, with Mikel sitting in front of the back four, and that’s what made the difference.

Juan Mata and Ramires had freedom to get forward with Mikel holding to join up with Oscar, Hazard and Ba, and it made a huge difference. United couldn’t cope with the amount of players we had pushed forward, and we were finding space all over the pitch.

Hazard’s goal was different class. The speed of our counter attack for the second goal and awareness of the players was top drawer, and once again, in the big game, Ramires came up with another important goal.

United fans will even admit that they couldn’t live with us, we were that good and it’s pleasing to say.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 10:  Eden Hazard (l) of Chelsea is congratulated by team-mate David Luiz after scoring his team's first goal during the FA Cup sponsored by Budweiser Sixth Round match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on March 10, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Eden Hazard (l) of Chelsea is congratulated by teammate David Luiz after scoring his team’s first goal during the FA Cup Sixth Round match against Manchester United at Old Trafford on March 10, 2013 in Manchester, England.

I was expecting a battering yesterday, and it looked like it was going to happen. The players themselves, when asked the question, stood up and decided to be counted. With the changes that were made (that should have started the game), they turned things around and credit to them. Yes the manager made the changes, but he shouldn’t have left them on the bench to begin with!

So we take United back to Stamford Bridge, and like I say, there are important lessons to be learned from the game.

  • You MUST start your big players in the big games.
  • A 4-3-3 formation is the way forward.
  • Mikel MUST start sitting in front of the back four.
  • Eden Hazard should never be benched or substituted.
  • We have to start games better.

Let’s hope Rafa learns these lessons for the run in now. Tottenham losing is massive, and we can go back into third if we win our game in hand.

Finally, I want to give credit where credit is due, and that’s to the players. I personally believe that they sat there at half time and knew just how bad they had defended and how badly they started the game, and wanted to make a point in the second half. You could see just how close they all are at the final whistle.

If only we had started with the team that scored two quick goals in the second half!

Published with permission from ChelseaDaft.

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