Fact checking Chelsea v Man United

Dispelling the myths of an FA Cup quarterfinal match

(Chelsea/Twitter)

Chelsea beat a 10-man Manchester United 1–0 at Stamford Bridge to advance to the FA Cup semifinals at Wembley. Though, for some, this may have been a case of the better and more disciplined team beating a tired and ill-prepared opponent, for many others there were several points of confusion that need to be cleared up.

  1. Jose Mourinho is not a “Judas” to Chelsea—A small group of fans behind the benches decided to curse at Jose Mourinho and call him a “Judas,” apparently upset that he joined Man United after Chelsea sacked him for the second time. He responded by holding up three fingers and pointing to the pitch to remind them that he won three titles at Stamford Bridge.

After the match, he expanded on his hand gestures, saying “They can call me what they want. Until the moment they have a manager that wins four Premier Leagues for them, I’m the number one. When they have somebody that wins four Premier Leagues for them, I become number two. Until then Judas is number one.”

To be clear: Taking the best job available after the club you led to three league titles unceremoniously sacks you not once, but twice, doesn’t make someone a Judas. But all will surely be forgiven when Mourinho returns for his third spell with Chelsea in a few years.

2. Kicking Eden Hazard is not an effective tactical choice—I get why this might have been an attractive idea to Mourinho. With Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney, and Anthony Martial all unavailable, his own attacking options were limited, and since Hazard was one of the players who completely disappeared last season, getting Mourinho sacked, I can see how kicking the shit out of him serves a vengeful purpose. But it backfired spectacularly. Ander Herrera was booked twice in a span of 15 minutes and was sent off before halftime. Plus it enraged Antonio Conte, and how are the officials supposed to be objective when they’re fearing for their lives?

After the match, Conte said “”We came to play football…but for 25 minutes it was impossible for Eden Hazard to play, because he was kicked. It could be a tactic. I think everyone saw this… Sometimes when you play against a player with a good talent you try to intimidate this player. I think that the referee must protect this type of player.” And when faced with the choice of protecting Hazard or getting eaten like a human meat pie by Antonio Conte, the referee clearly agreed.

3. We don’t have to obsessively mention Paul Pogba’s price tag every time he has a bad match—With the omnipotent exception of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, players often don’t prove their value for a new club in a different league until their second year there, no matter how much they cost. This is something everyone should know at this point. And yet, whenever Pogba has a bad match in his first season back in the Premier League after four in Italy, his transfer fee gets parroted and unfavorably compared as if Man United paid €105 million explicitly for that one match and that one match only.

Remember when Man United signed David De Gea? During his first season with the club, he was mercilessly skewered and written off as one of the worst goalkeepers of all time. Now he’s the only reason Man United didn’t lose this match by more.

4. N’Golo Kante is not “equivalent to two midfielders,” he’s just one really good N’Golo Kante and he not only deserves the next Ballon d’Or, but all the ones Messi and Ronaldo have already won should be handed over to him out of respect for his undervalued contributions*—He’s also definitely better than Ander Herrera.

*The second half of this statement technically isn’t a fact, but a correct opinion.

5. Marcos Rojo was lucky not to get sent off—Clearly the officials let this slide in an attempt to cover for their anti-Man United agenda. Or something.

6. Kante and De Gea are both extremely good—It needs to be repeated.