#Live: De Gea ‘sleeps on duty’ as Chelsea cage Man Utd, boost EPL top 4 target


Manchester United, a goal to the good after Juan Mata’s early strike, were back in the hunt for the top four.

Then it slipped through their hands, with David de Gea making yet another routine mistake.

He is supposed to be a keeper.

Tie de Gea down, give the world No1 whatever he wants to make sure he stays at United forever.

The doubts are creeping in now.

De Gea’s latest mistake, failing to deal with Antonio Rudiger’s routine long-ranger, cost this creaking club yet again.

Marcos Alonso gobbled it up, cancelling out Juan Mata’s early strike to help Chelsea on their way to a point at Old Trafford.

Top four football is worth a hell of a lot of money and it slipped through De Gea’s hands when he failed to make Rudiger’s strike stick.

It added to United’s troubles, the run of ten games that has returned just seven points.

They are a shadow of the side who went on a spell-binding run when Solskjaer took over from you-know-who.

These used to be such titanic clashes, barnstorming affairs that gripped the nation.

It is lacking the intensity of those classics, the tussles that could capture the imagination.

Chelsea, disinterested and distant for most of it, are a struggle to watch as well.

It cannot be easy being Jorginho.

After a couple of half-baked, half-assed efforts from distance, his game fell apart.

His needless 360 in the centre of the pitch, making a full rotation without a red shirt in sight, was the cue for Chelsea’s fans to give him some jip.

They are fed up of watching him slow the game to a standstill with his stodgy, crabbing movements across the back four.

Sarri, covering every blade of grass in his technical area, sends his favourite son out to bore the pants off everybody.

When he tripped Pogba after half an hour, upending the United midfielder inside the centre circle, they were a goal behind.

Mata, in from nowhere, scored against his former club after a functional move involving Romelu Lukaku and Luke Shaw.

Mata’s finish was neat and tidy, sweeping a side-footed effort beyond Kepa Arrizabalaga to bring this old stadium to its feet.

They needed that.

Seven defeats in nine, at a club with United’s vast resources, does a lot of damage.

Most could see beyond the 3-0 whooping in Barcelona, but the manner of Manchester City’s 2-0 win here on Wednesday was a chastening experience.

United are well short of champion quality.

Instead they are in a battle for fourth, with Solskjaer trying to sort them out in time to qualify for the Champions League.

This was another Europa League performance.

They could have been a man down when Nemanja Matic jabbed his former Chelsea team-mate in the jaw just before the break.

Chelsea, after a count to 10, recovered minutes later to scramble the equaliser beyond de Gea.

This poor fella – and there comes a point when you have to sympathise – is having one.

He could not hold on to Rudiger’s shot, spilling it helpfully into the path of Alonso.

There was a time, when he kept everything out against Tottenham at Wembley, when he looked unbeatable.

United’s social media platforms, working themselves up into a frenzy, published endless tributes to Dave Saves.

The trouble is Dave doesn’t save any more.

Everybody knows he is out of form, terrified of being called upon in another decisive moment.

He still has the support of Solskjaer and the Stretford End, but he is close to the limit.

De Gea has to be because his patience snapped with Fred the dreadful Red, Jesse Lingard and Chris Smalling after the demolition derby.

None of them made the matchday squad.

Instead Solskjaer brought in Eric Bailly from nowhere, Ander Herrera after injury, Mata from the bench, plus Matic and Lukaku.

It was the classic short, sharp shock treatment, the old Fergie trick of making a tonne of changes to shake things up a bit after a bad defeat

For a spell they looked good.

Pogba ran around a bit more than usual, Mata got his goal, and Lukaku’s second touch is still a tackle.

Even so, they are fragile, precious little flowers.

When Alonso levelled the confidence visibly drained out of them.

Hazard spluttered into life with some occasional dribbles and N’Golo Kante made a couple of his trademark interceptions.

Changes were on the way, with Rudiger forced off through injury and Solskjaer throwing on Alexis Sanchez for Marcus Rashford after 65 minutes.

There was another on the way when Bailly hobbled off with injury to be replaced by Marcos Rojo.

Sarri spotted a chance to win it, sending on Ruben Loftus-Cheek in place of Mateo Kovacic with 15 left on the clock.

Chelsea ended with a draw, finishing the day where they started it as they close in on Champions League football.

It is in their hands now.



Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply