Chelsea should take positives from defeat

TIM KEEBLE, SPORTS NETWORK

, Last Updated: 3:17 PM ET

Manchester United's 3-1 win over Chelsea on Sunday certainly confirmed the club's status as favourites to retain the title.

It gave United five wins from five games to start the season and moved the Red Devils into sole possession of the top spot, two points clear of Manchester City and five ahead of Chelsea.

And while all of the talk will no doubt centre on how unbeatable United looks through five games, Chelsea has reason to be optimistic.

Yes the team fell behind 3-0 in the first half of a match that many felt would provide a good barometer for where both teams were at.

But if you take a closer look at how the first 45 minutes went, the score is very deceiving.

United took an early lead but Chelsea midfielder Ramires squandered a great chance midway through the half to level the match when Fernando Torres set him up with an open net from 10 yards.

Goalkeeper David De Gea was well out of position, but the Brazilian instead fired his shot right back into De Gea, who gratefully smothered it.

Had Ramires finished off the easy chance the match could have turned out much different. But instead United tallied two more goals before the break to assume a commanding lead.

Torres has been lightning rod for criticism since his $80 million move from Liverpool in January, but he scored his first goal since April in the opening minute of the second half and generally caused problems for United's defence.

Chelsea dominated the second half for long stretches, but what will be remembered is the glaring miss by Torres 10 minutes from time that could have cut the deficit to one.

The Spaniard latched onto a through ball and rounded De Gea before somehow completely missing a wide open net, summing up the afternoon for the visitors.

It will go down as one of the misses of the season, and unfortunately, it will overshadow what was a strong 80 minutes of play from Torres.

Juan Mata was guilty of some poor defending on United's second goal from Nani, but the former Valencia man appears to be settling nicely at Stamford Bridge, and along with Daniel Sturridge and Torres on Sunday, they formed an effective three-pronged attack.

Chelsea may only have eight goals through five games, but the chances have been there and it is only a matter of time before those shots end up hitting the back of the net.

The fact that the Blues have already fallen five points off the pace is not encouraging, but you only have to look back to last season for proof that the first month is hardly indicative of how the title race will go.

Like United this campaign, Chelsea began last season with five successive wins, outscoring the opposition 21-1, while Sir Alex Ferguson's team drew five of its first eight games.

Despite a sluggish start United still managed to track down Chelsea and win the title, and it is hard to imagine Chelsea not factoring into the race as the season goes along.

"Even though we lost today there is a long way to go," Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech said following the match. "City dropped some points [at Fulham] and you can see the league will be difficult for everybody. We are positive that although we lost we can build on it."

In its simplest form soccer really comes down to the taking of chances. On Sunday United made the most of the ones it created, while Chelsea generated more but let too many go to waste.

With so many games left to play it would be foolish to dwell too heavily on one result.

Instead Chelsea should take what it can from Sunday's loss and move on, realizing that titles are not won five games into the season.


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