Fired-up Devils open title race

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April 18, 2017
Fired-up Devils open title race

TOP OF HIS GAME: Devil Fellaini, right

I could talk of the ridiculous refereeing, the constant unwarranted free kicks, the relentless niggling ordered by Jose Mourinho to wind Diego Costa up, the loss of Marcus Alonso, or the persistent fouling of Eden Hazard…

But I’m not going to, because whatever the excuses some might come up with, Chelsea just didn’t turn up.

It wasn’t the same as the loss to Crystal Palace two weeks ago.

The Blues were good that day, undone by some brilliant forward play.

Sunday was just pathetic.

While replaying the game, I was left unsure as to how bad the Blues performance was, or how good Manchester United were.

I’d probably say 50/50.

I haven’t seen such a gutless run by Conte’s men since the embarrassing 3-0 defeat at the Emirates.

However, I haven’t seen such a decent outing by Man United since the start of the season.

Jose Mourinho’s team looked mid-table, somehow getting the results and draws to build up a long unbeaten run.

But they looked proper on Sunday. Somewhere nearer to the type of show we’ve come to expect over the years.

I know you’ll all call me an idiot, but I reckon there were two glaring reasons why Jose managed to outdo his Italian counterpart.

One, Zlatan… I maintain my stance, yes, he scores great goals, but he does f***-all for 88 minutes otherwise.

In today’s game, that isn’t good enough.

The big fairy was on the bench, opening the way for a much busier, energetic frontline.

In fact, when he came on – and the whole place I was in erupted like a bunch of tripped out disciples – United suddenly looked less stable – allowed Chelsea into the game a bit.

He touched the ball three or four times and fell over twice.

The other masterstroke was Marouane Fail-laini.

I know – as with Paul Pogba – lots of United fans don’t rate him.

But for me it wasn’t Ander Herrera or Marcus Rashford who starred on the day, it was him, the long streaky p!ss bean from Belgium.

He was all over Chelsea, winning everything in the air, bullying around the middle of the park.

It totally disrupted the Blues midfield machine that has dominated pretty much everyone this season.

But all that aside, Antonio Conte was quick to take it on the chin, in the post-match interview he said: “In this case I wasn’t able to transfer the right motivation to play this type of game.”

And I’m glad he admitted that.

United were the far-more motivated side, they showed the kind of desire a team fighting for the finishing line should naturally possess.

As a top-end coach, Conte will know how to use the loss – as he did following the Palace defeat to easily beat out Manchester City last week.

Despite Spurs seemingly keeping up this season, four points with six games to go is still a strong lead and Sunday’s result will seem a long way away if Chelsea beat Southampton next Tuesday night.

However, just three days before that the Blues meet Tottenham at Wembley for a place in the FA Cup final.

Is it squeeky bum time? Ok, yeah, feeling it a bit right now!

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