Manchester United looked vengeful as Wayne Rooney’s free-kick crept in to make it 2-0 inside the opening quarter of an hour. Sir Alex Ferguson had clearly told his team to go out and give a performance that would diminish the painful memories of defeat and Nani’s red card on Tuesday night. Unfortunately, in an uncharacteristic second half display full of loose passing and a lack of urgency, Chelsea took advantage and scored twice to level the full-time result. United’s inability to secure victory will have only provided more disappointment during a week their fans will want to forget.
2. Mata, Oscar and Hazard should make up Chelsea’s attacking midfield trio.
Eden Hazard came off the bench to score a beautiful curling shot that kick started Chelsea’s come back. After his introduction as a substitute, he showed better poise, balance and ball retention than Victor Moses had done throughout the entire first half. Juan Mata turned in another Man of the Match performance and is always guaranteed a starting spot, whilst Brazilian youngster Oscar has the ability to produce something unexpected that could win any match for his side. Victor Moses is still learning, and would be better utilised by Rafa Benitez as a late substitute, using his pace and direct running against defenders as they begin to tire.
3. There is still doubt over Wayne Rooney’s future at Old Trafford.
Wayne Rooney was included in the starting line up to face Chelsea which would have gone some way towards easing his frustration at being left out of the Manchester United side that lost to Real Madrid. Ferguson picked the 11 players he thought were most capable of winning that tie, and they didn’t include the English centre forward. His free kick found the far corner to double United’s lead as things began to improve for the striker. However, as Chelsea’s influence on the game grew, Van Persie was introduced and Rooney found himself moved to the left hand side of midfield. Sir Alex deployed Shinji Kagawa in the role behind Van Persie as he searched for the winner. There is still confusion surrounding the striker’s importance to the club, as well as the relationship he has with his manager.
4. Chelsea look like conceding in the absence of John Terry.
Rafael Benitez is famous for his rotation policy, and John Terry was again left out of the Spaniard’s first eleven. He opted for a partnership of David Luiz and Gary Cahill, with the former England captain having to settle for a place amongst the substitutes alongside Branislav Ivanovic. The absence of the club captain quickly had an influence on proceedings at Old Trafford as Michael Carrick’s lofted through ball sailed over the head of Cahill and was headed in brilliantly by Javier Hernandez. Wayne Rooney curled in a free kick shortly afterwards that evaded the whole Chelsea back four and found its way into the back of the net. David Luiz missed a header in the scramble whilst under pressure from Jonny Evans, the type of header John Terry has dealt with in the past on numerous occasions. Chelsea have always relied heavily on leadership and since Didier Drogba has left and Frank Lampard is unlikely to be offered a contract extension, it is important that Terry plays in order to communicate and organise.
5. It was a refreshing semi final cup draw.
Manchester City defeated Barnsley largely thanks to a Carlos Tevez hat-trick, but Roberto Mancini won’t be pleased with his team’s semi final draw. They will face the winner of the United Chelsea replay in a tie that promises to eliminate one of the strongest sides in the country, and could produce a Manchester derby semi final at Wembley, just as occurred in 2011. Wigan have been rewarded for their exceptional performance at Everton with an away fixture at lower league opposition, albeit in the tricky form of Blackburn or Millwall. Neutrals will be looking forward to a cup final that isn’t contested by two of the top six teams in the Premier League.