Grant was Sunday’s big winner, Mascherano the loser
Cue Grand Slam Sunday — when Chelsea virtually ended Arsenal’s title hopes and Javier Mascherano left Liverpool with 10 men at Manchester United following a quite avoidable red card, clearing the champions’ path in their quest to retaining the title.
Grant made a double substitution that changed the face of Chelsea’s match with Arsenal, who were leading 1-0, with the strategy of twin strikers producing two Drogba goals for a 2-1 victory.
As they put it at EPL Talk: “Avram Grant looks as if he’s starting to understand this whole managerial thing…”
The weekend’s biggest winners, though, were United who, five points clear of Chelsea with seven matches to go, should go on to retain the title after a 3-0 win over Liverpool.
Mascherano may not have been able to prevent United’s victory had he remained on the pitch for the full 90 minutes but Liverpool’s chances diminished with his unnecessary departure for dissent.
Worse still, the end of Liverpool’s seven-match winning streak in all competitions could have a negative effect in the race for fourth place, which includes the city derby against fifth-placed Everton at Anfield next weekend, let alone virtually ending any lingering hope of fighting for the title.
“Can we please stop blaming another Old Trafford defeat on the referee? … He was hardly responsible for a defensive shambles, a midfield that lacked as much fight as it did creativity, and a striker so isolated that he must have wondered whether he was the only one on the pitch.”
The title push is now down to the top three. Chelsea have the easiest run-in on paper but United have their five-point lead. So has the title race already been decided? Give us your thoughts on that in the comments.
PHOTO: Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his goal against Liverpool at Old Trafford, March 23, 2008. REUTERS/Phil Noble