Sunday threw up two exciting clashes between London’s two most powerful teams versus Manchester’s most respected, albeit in different competitions.
MANCHESTER UTD vs CHELSEA
The premier league clash between a team I must feel justified to call “outgoing champions” and last season’s Europa league winners was a thrilling encounter packed with talking points from the game.
The Belgian scored one and set up the winner for substitute Jesse Lingard with 15 minutes to play as Utd won all three points to reclaim second spot from Liverpool who had usurped them on Saturday. It was his first goal against a top eight team this season, partly shutting his critics up about his goal tally against the big teams. In Lukaku’s defence, against the big teams(City, Totenham, Chelsea all away) unlike today Mourinho didn’t set up his side to create chances to score hence he lacked adequate service and you would agree with me a striker needs service upfront to score goals. Deservedly won the man of the match in a tight encounter between the two rivals
Most of the pre match talk focused on whether the two managers would let sparks fly both on the touchline and in their post match conferences. We were not to see any of that as both allowed momentary peace to reign with the conventional handshakes observed before and at the end of the game. Jose Mourinho said after the game ‘We beat a very good team, and to beat a very good team you need to be organized…’’ and Antonio Conte felt his team should have gotten something from the game at Old Trafford saying “I think we should have got something from the game. The draw was the right result but we are talking about a defeat, that’s all…”
Most definitely what ensued between the two teams was nothing short of a tactical masterclass. Both Jose and Conte came out with a plan which was well executed by both teams. In the end what determined who got the maximum points was down to getting the tactics spot on till the end. The Chelsea manager’s tactics seemed to be working to great effect as they took the lead through Willian and Hazard’s one-two which was blazed past David De gea by the former in the thirty second minute. Seven minutes later though Romelu Lukaku netted at the end of an inticate move between Sanchez and Martial. In the second half Chelsea continued their dominance early on but some questionable substitutions coupled with Mourinho’s inspired substitutions seemingly brought the blues to their kneels. The subs were a crucial turning point point in the game as Conte bringing off Hazard meant his team couldn’t really keep putting the screws to Manchester utd and Jose’s own sub in Jesse Lingard scored a beautiful headed winner from a Lukaku cross.
ARSENAL vs MANCHESTER CITY
City kept their treble dreams for this season alive by thrashing the Gunners 3-0 in front of more than 85,000 people in attendance at Wembley stadium.
FIRST TITLE IN THE BAG
After disappointingly losing out on a potential quadruple when they lost to League One side Wigan in the FA cup, Pep Guardiola and his expensively assembled city side kept the treble dream alive by conveniently putting Arsenal to the sword with goals from Sergio Aguero, captain Vincent Kompany, and David silva to see them lift the 2017/2018 Carabao cup. Defensive mistakes only formed only part of the problem as Arsenal put up a lackluster performance that sees Arsene Wenger continue his ongoing wait for this trophy. Meanwhile a first trophy of the season bodes well for the confidence of Manchester City as they seek to add the UCL to the Carabao cup and a Premeier league title which is all but theirs already.
The selection of Captain Vincent Kompany was seen as a bold move by Pep due to his inability to stay fit for long periods of the season and having to square him up against Arsenal’s £55million January signing Pierre Emerick Aubameyang. Kompany can be regarded as one of the best defenders in the Premier league, though has lost a yard of pace with his constant injury problems hence the fear that he was going to be beaten by his man on account of this but this was not the Gabon forward’s day as Kompany rolled back the years to keep his man quiet. Aubameyang’s day could be summed up by his somewhat silly foul on City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo in the second half when the keeper was stranded after his own howler outside the penalty area. Nobody certainly expected Kompany to have a relatively easy afternoon against a striker of such lofty reputation.
In the end it was an average performance from all Arsenal players that turned out at Wembley stadium on Sunday including Manager Arsene Wenger who failed to inspire his team in any sort of way that could have seen them put up a much better performance. Another chance at redemption is immediately available for Wenger’s Men on Thursday when they again take on Manchester City in the premier league.
by Olaiwola Bakare