It was most definitely a game of two halves with us dominating the first period and being good value for our one-nil lead while a change of personnel and a slight change of formation left Chelski in command of the second half until the sending off allowed us back into the match. So what were the main talking points from the game and the weekend as a whole.
First Half Dominance.
With Eriksen once again controlling the midfield and Paulinho offering plenty of support we were threatening to overrun Chelski for large parts of that first period. Townsend seemed at last to have heeded the advice that shooting from distance doesn´t always pay off as he played in a couple of killer passes only for the finish to be just short of perfect. Siggy again linked well with Soldado and took his chance beautifully while we looked solid at the back and had the measure of their midfield. But yet again we rued missed chances as we should have been two or three up by halftime and given ourselves the cushion we needed.
Half Time Matas
Bringing Juan Mata on for the second half wasn´t exactly a masterstroke as most Spurs fans would love to have the diminutive Spaniard in our team, the surprise is that he hasn´t featured too much so far this season – a decision that only the Chosen One comprehends. Mata always seems to have a great game against us and so it proved, instantly wrestling control of the midfield away from us and beginning to dictate the play and the pace at which it was played. Whereas before we had the ball and moved it around effectively now we were chasing shadows and suddenly Torres also came alive.
And it was no surprise that when they scored it would come from the head of the man we all love to hate – John Terry – delivery courtesy of Mata.
The Red Card
When it finally came – and I think we could all see it coming – it was a bit of a shock. Whilst Torres and Vertonghen had their own personal feud for the majority of the match that the second yellow came as a result of a clash of heads was a surprise. Both players went for the ball fairly but with arms raised to gain elevation not with any intent to cause harm. As both were already on yellows I expected Mike Reid to either do nothing or give both a second yellow. It was therefore a shock to see the yellow come out for only Torres.
The fact that he should not have even been on the pitch at that stage was perhaps more pertinent. Having clipped Vertonghen´s heel with the ball running out of play, giving away a needless freekick and picking up his first yellow Torres´ reaction to Vertonghen´s initial rage was to put his thumb up the Belgian´s nose and apparently scrape his fingernails across his cheek. If headbutting – or even attempting to headbutt – an opponent is an instant red, this also must have been as well.
If Mike Reid had seen the incident he would surely have brandished the card. If he didn´t then League officials have every right to increase Torres´ ban – which hopefully they will do early this week.
A one-one draw and a single point was about fair to both teams but with both Le Arse and Vile-Loop winning away we only kept top spot for a few hours, now dropping to third behind the scousers on goals scored as our goal difference is the same.
However, following their defeats Citeh and Manure sit uncomfortably in 6th and 12th – most unMancunian positions even for this early in the season. They are both dropping points to much lower teams, not just those capable of competing with them for the Premier League title. At least we have only dropped points against Le Arse and Chelski, winning everything else.
Even with those defeats you would still expect the Mancs to get back towards the top positions before too long but as a result of their stuttering starts they are both looking vulnerable and may struggle to maintain their usual form over the entire season, giving us a boost in our efforts to claim a Champions League spot or even better.