If there is one thing that Chelsea do not need, it’s another fixture added to their overloaded schedule. However, most Chelsea fans would be pleased enough to have earned an FA Cup replay against Manchester United after falling 2-0 down at Old Trafford in the opening quarter of an hour of the match.
One man who will likely not receive much credit for the result is Rafa Benitez, with his standing amongst Chelsea fans unlikely to improve much in the rest of his stay at Stamford Bridge, but the Spaniard had a major influence in the team’s fightback, and this deserves to be acknowledged.
Chelsea fans were furious as he opted to bring off Frank Lampard and Victor Moses for Eden Hazard and John Obi Mikel in the 52nd minute, leaving Ramires on the pitch instead of the England midfielder.
However these changes sparked Chelsea’s revival, with Hazard opening the scoring, and Ramires, freed to roam forward by Mikel’s presence behind him, adding the equaliser.
Indeed from the moment the substitutions were made, Chelsea took firm control of the match, with Mikel and Ramires’ mobility helping them dominate the midfield and provide a ready supply to the magisterial Juan Mata and Hazard. By the end of the game, Chelsea will have been disappointed to only draw, with another frequently criticised Spaniard - David De Gea - producing a wonderful save to deny Mata late in the game.
Chelsea fans might say that Benitez sent out the team that went 2-0 down, but there were individual mistakes involved in the Chelsea goals, with Petr Cech looking unusually suspect between the sticks.
One thing that Benitez has been fairly criticised for at Chelsea is his sluggishness in making changes in matches, but his brave changes were key to the team mounting an excellent comeback at Old Trafford, and Chelsea fans should acknowledge the impact their manager made on Sunday.
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