Grant was Sunday’s big winner, Mascherano the loser

March 25, 2008

Ronaldo celebrates his goal against LiverpoolAvram Grant was being ridiculed last week as not good enough to manage Chelsea, while referees were getting stick for not coming down harder on dissent.

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.

Mascherano was variously called “Mad Masch”, a Muppet and much worse. Liverpool Pies disagreed with the red card but added:

“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

6 comments

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I’d pretty much agree with that comment from Pies. Liverpool didn’t really play any football at all. They looked ok in defence before the goalkeeping mistake led to the first goal, but there was nothing from midfield or attack.

Posted by Kev | Report as abusive

Throughout this season, Torres has saved Liverpool, when they have struggled. In this match looks like the team thought he will once again weave his magic, and leaving him up front the rest just switched off.
A striker can only be lethal if the midfield has precise passes. Didn’t see any such eagerness and decisiveness from the midfield during the match.
And the defense handed Man United the game on a platter.

Posted by Nachiket | Report as abusive

liverpool were totally outplayed but the red card was a bit harsh the guy was just asking the ref ‘ why he gave torres the yellow card’

it is interesting how the mascherano incident has completely divided opinion, even among players. Some like Andy Gray say he did nothing wrong, others like Jamie redknapp say the red was deserved as it was persistent dissent and he ran 50 metres to the ref. Something has to be done to clamp down on whingeing millionaires.

Posted by Mark Meadows | Report as abusive

I think it was harsh too, but it doesn’t alter the fact that he behaved idiotically. And I thought Torres was fine. He just got no service whatsoever. The Liverpool midfield collectively were as bad as they’ve ever been.

Posted by Luc | Report as abusive

i simply believe that mascherano is a very weak player with no vision nor speed. besides being able to tackle reasonably well , he is simply not able to do any other things. mascherano is a pathetic player and lacks probably every other skill. so mascherano please leave buck up , cause you are simply not good enough.

Posted by Benitez | Report as abusive