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Match Reports

United snooze as Chelsea claw back to win Shield

The curtain raiser for the Premier League 09/10 is now behind us, and we can finally look forward to actual competitive football. Of course, the international friendly is almost surreal in its scheduling but we can break our head over it another day.

Here are a few thoughts on yesterday…

United started brightly and dominated Chelsea in the first half. They were quick off the blocks; Rooney and Berbatov linked up well, and Fletcher did a good job of snuffing out Chelsea’s formidable midfield. We attacked with purpose and should have been ahead by more than the solitary goal.

Nani had a bright game. I’ve had high hopes for him — I always felt he had the skills but his brain needed some sorting out. His brain seemed just fine, as there was marked improvement in his decision-making. The goal was beautiful, bisecting John Terry and Petr Cech into the right corner.

This has become a recurring theme in most of the United-Chelsea fixtures I’ve seen lately. Actually scratch that. This has been a recurring theme in most of the big games I’ve seen United involved in the last season (barring the Arsenal Champions’ League away leg, and the 3-0 defeat of Chelsea). We seem to fly off the blocks, get an early goal perhaps, and revert into a shell or inexplicably contrive to concede advantage to the other side. The second half was emblematic of the schizophrenia we’ve seen United display and I never saw us really deserve taking the lead in the second half. Carvalho’s goal almost seemed just to me, which brings us to my next gripe.

I’ve been supportive of giving Ben Foster the chance to prove himself. But yesterday he seemed very nervous and shaky. He hardly filled me with any confidence — and I suppose for the defence either — and if he keeps that form in the proper games, it will only be his Englishness that will keep him number one over Kuszczak. Sort it out, Ben. Foster fans can make all excuses they want about him, but he hardly inspired confidence in some of his decision-making yesterday — defence or no defence; not to mention, some dreadful kicking (which was supposed to be his strength).

And finally, onto the most contentious part of the match. Ballack elbowing Evra was a disgrace, but I won’t spend more inches debating on the German captain’s character. I was disappointed with referee, Chris Foy’s inconsistency. Whereas he didn’t play advantage when a Chelsea player went down he had no issues when Evra went down and played advantage leading to a Chelsea goal. Now I don’t have an issue if he’d played advantage for us in the first place. He has to give us an indication on how he interprets the rules. That’s all I ask. And I didn’t see that in the lead up to Chelsea’s second. That is all I will say on the incident.

In some bonus asides: I thought Berbatov sucked himself into a wormhole, during the second half. Some people claim to have seen him though. Nani’s injury was worrying, and I was really disappointed to hear reports that he’ll be out for a while. He will have a scan today, when the extent of the injury would definitively be known. Ben Hibbs, the Manutd.com resident journalist, however, provided an update on twitter that United’s doctors believe he may not have dislocated his shoulder after all. But nonetheless, a scan would only really tell.