Ander Herrera was sent off for a second bookable offence. The only problem was that it wasn’t a bookable offence. This “decision” ruined any chance United may have had of winning the game and meant that their best player, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, was sacrificed in order to bring on a defensive midfielder in Marouane Fellaini.
From that point on United huffed and puffed, continuously gave the ball back to Chelsea and were lucky to only lose by one goal. They managed one shot on target in the whole game. This was all down to Michael Oliver. If he had shown a little common sense and just given a final warning to Herrera, which is what he should have done, then the game may have had a different outcome.
Chelsea were continuously favoured as far as the major decisions went and certainly should have had more players booked than was the case. There was no sign of the wide-held belief that a referee will even things up by sending off a player from the opposition. Chelsea were never in danger of bookings, never mind sendings off, not with this man in charge.
I must admit to fearing the worst when I first saw the team that Mourinho had picked. Smalling and Young are both liabilities and Jones continued in his reckless style, running round and barging into people like a headless chicken.
Thanks to Oliver, these three were joined by another two in Fellaini and Lingard and United’s hopes of getting anything from the game evaporated completely.
It is understandable that Mourinho did not prioritise this match as the FA Cup only offers a route back into the Europa League, whereas a top four finish in the Premier League and/or winning the Europa League both offer Champion’s League football next season.
At the end of the day the best team won. Chelsea kept the ball far better than United, who do not appear to consider this an important aspect of the game, hence they were running around chasing shadows a lot more than their Chelsea counterparts.
Had it not been for David De Gea, the score would have been a lot more convincing in Chelsea’s favour.
So that’s one competition out of the way. Let’s hope we don’t have to put up with even more bias from Michael Oliver in what remains of the season. That is now three penalties against and a sending off in his last four United games.