This is Peter Dyke’s first article for TF. Welcome to the team!
As Chelsea started the day on Sunday, they could not have been happier.
Both United and City drew again, leaving them 3 points clear of United with a game in hand. That game in hand was to come later that day, at home, to Sunderland. Well, we all know how that one panned out.
What surprised me more than anything though is how terrible their defensive line was, missing just two of their usual back four. Yes, their back four consisted of four fullbacks, but they are still defenders. They are still used to being an organised back line and are all international footballers. Surely they should have stood a good chance against a Sunderland side who are certainly inconsistent away from home. This must worry Chelsea fans, as their strength in depth is extremely poor considering they were only missing two defenders.
Did the Chelsea hierarchy make a huge mistake when they failed to replace Carvalho?
Of course United have been in the same position as Chelsea almost twelve months ago, as we faced Fulham at Craven Cottage, boasting Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher in defence. The score-line was the same, a 3-0 drubbing. In fact United went through a long periods of time last season without our first choice back four, and we still only lost out on our 19th league title by one point.
If Chelsea continue to play as poorly as they did on Sunday, with Alex reportedly missing for up to eight weeks, and John Terry out for between two to six weeks, then United need to be ready to take advantage of this. With home games against Wigan and Blackburn and a trip to Blackpool coming up, United could put the pressure on Chelsea by the time the teams meet in mid-December.
The chances are that Roman Abramovich is twitching on his £50 million yacht and preparing to finance a spending spree come January to help bolster the ranks and push on for another title. What United have to ensure is that by the time his oil money has been spent, our destiny is in our own hands and we are in the best possible position we can be.