barclays Barclays Premier League

The Fast and the Furious

6:18 PMAleks Vee

If Oscar Wilde were here to witness this match, he’d probably say “there’s only one thing worse than not making a call, and that is making a call.” What may have been a tie between two of the season’s biggest contenders ended in a narrow and controversial win for the Red Devils. It can’t be denied that United started strong, dominating the pitch with a certain former Arsenal star in the mix. Their first goal came from an unfortunate error by David Luiz, who was simply in the wrong place. Robin van Persie‘s shot bounced off the post and ricocheted against Luiz straight into the net. RVP made it 2-0 himself after Valencia’s cross. Although Torres was marked well by the opposition, Chelsea was still able to test De Gea from set pieces, like Luiz’s long-range effort that was saved by De Gea’s leg. The Spaniard came through a second time with a save in a similar fashion. The keeper still has much to learn – his saves were not as solid as they should be. Di Matteo’s team was right to rely on long balls – they’ve got skilled players like Ramires who can make the run and find space to shoot from afar. Chelsea was likewise able to put on enough pressure to drive United out of the right flank and retake the initiative. Evans nearly scored an own goal as Chelsea nabbed a corner. United’s 2-goal lead seemed to have reawakened Di Matteo’s team. Even before the second half players were contesting Mark Clattenburg‘s decisions. United’s Valencia seemed upset at how easily and quickly free kicks were being awarded to the Blues. The other side was none to happy as well after Clattenburg blew his whistle in favor of United after Rafael’s retaliation to Ramires’ foul on Wayne Rooney. Chelsea soon broke through United’s defense, and in the words of a commentator, Torres was no longer waiting to star in the next Twilight movie. Two attempts in a row by the Spaniard targeted De Gea’s net, but it just wasn’t meant to be. It was all up to Juan Mata, Chelsea’s set piece specialist, after Rooney was booked for heading cleats-first into Hazard, giving away the set piece at the top of the box. Mata’s left-footed shot curved over the 15-man wall and right in the near post, not too high a shot to save but a difficult ball nonetheless. He scored his fourth goal this season and nearly made his fifth after a pass from Torres, but De Gea stopped him in his tracks. The yellow for Torres’ high challenge against Cleverley was uncontested, but would later lead to a far less agreeable one.

Mr. Clattenburg makes a costly decision.
With the match more or less equal, the second half promised to be a goal-scoring fest. It started with a back-and-forth between the Premier League leaders, marred only by Clattenburg’s blind eye to a David Luiz hand ball after Valencia’s shot from the right flank. Most took no note of it, and the game carried on with Juan Mata trying to get in a double. A great combination by the Blues that started from the left moving in to the center sent the ball to Torres, who delivered back left to Oscar. The latter’s cross got the feisty Ramires a header, leveling the game. De Gea was solid, and Hazard’s attempt was futile. Mata lacked accuracy in his close-range effort, despite having gotten a good cross. RVP couldn’t get in through the Chelsea defense and Ashley Young was no better on his attempt, providing an easy ball for Cech. A red card was issued to Ivanovic for a foul on Ashley Young after the Red Devil was brought down on his solo run. Though a card should have been issued, the red seemed a bit of a harsh call. As Chelsea supporters upped the volume on their chants and United regained possession, the worst that could happen found a way to occur at Stamford Bridge. Fernando Torres was on the counter, Michael Carrick had contact with the Spaniard, and Clattenburg whistled for Torres to exit the pitch. Instead of a yellow to Carrick, Torres was booked for a dive. Di Matteo was furious, while Abramovic was just mildly slipping in to a state of melancholy. With Chelsea down in the dumps, United continued their efforts. RVP’s shot was saved by Cech, but the keeper failed to collect, and the ball teased the post dangerously. The newly-subbed Chicharito got out of a close offside just in time to make the shot on the rebound, scoring his second goal this season. With 9 men, Chelsea looked to their counters, but Ramires lacked accuracy, and Hazard failed to produce dangerous shots. Stamford Bridge resounded with supporters calling to whichever players had the ball to step it up for the home team. Clattenburg chose to head out with a fair decision, booking Valencia for simulation in stoppage time. United were in no hurry to score, and, after several weak attempts, settled in to rolling the ball around. Thousands of fans folded their arms as they witnessed Chelsea’s first loss of the season, not in a style that was marked entirely by pure sportsmanship, but in a match heavily controlled by a half-blind man and his whistle. United witnessed their first win at Stamford Bridge in over a decade, but are they really content with a tainted victory?

It’s not the first time nor, unfortunately, the last time that the football world will be flooded with accusations of biased refereeing. If any team encountered such problems as of late, it’s the Red Devils. “Referees favoring United” has been a hotly-disputed topic over the years – remember Howard Webb? One could contest that it was a difficult derby to referee, which is why it’s even more ironic that Mark Clattenburg managed to err on the easier calls.

The officials are simply “trying to eradicate this diving disease that ruins the game…and in attempting to eradicate it, they will make mistakes,” said an English commentator. Perhaps not. Perhaps it is corruption and not good intentions going awry that bring the level of refereeing into such absurdity. From the isles of Italy to the fields of Russia, referees have been known to openly accept bribes for years. The respective football associations must be willing to “put up their dukes” and go to battle against any and all officials who act outside of the laws of the game, or they too will be synonymous with corruption.

Barclays Premier League – 9th Matchweek
Sunday, October 28, 2012, 12:00PM EST

Chelsea vs. Manchester United – 2:3 (1:2)
Arena: Stamford Bridge (London)
Referee: Mark Clattenburg
0:1 David Luiz (Own Goal) (Asst. Robin van Persie) (4′)
0:2 Robin van Persie (Asst. Antonio Valencia) (12′)
1:2 Juan Mata (44′)
2:2 Ramires (Asst. Oscar) (53′)
2:3 Chicharito (75′)

Match Stats – Half Time:
7:3 shots on target
1:1 shots off target
4:6 fouls
59:41% possession

Match Stats – Full Time:
11:7 shots on target
3:8 shots off target
13:11 fouls
2:2 yellows
2:0 reds

Published on Get Real Premier

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  1. Torres and others maybe preceded by their reputations into the penalty area? US sports fans won't tolerate cheating - this is a serious concern if soccer is to grow in USA.

    1. I agree - the country that created the first laws of the game is responsible for maintaining them and setting an example for the rest of the world, especially the U.S., where soccer is rapidly gaining popularity.


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