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29/10/2012 08:23

Papers: Wide men win plaudits

Michael Cox writes in The Guardian...

United wide boys leave Chelsea exposed
Refereeing controversies overshadowed an exciting game and an interesting tactical battle – but both coaches made intriguing decisions in response to the Branislav Ivanovic and Fernando Torres dismissals. With Roberto Di Matteo constrained by the absence of Frank Lampard, Chelsea's starting lineup was predictable and the pre-game tactical questions concerned Sir Alex Ferguson's approach. After United went into an early lead his overall strategy was difficult to deduce – David Luiz's unfortunate own goal forced Chelsea to take the initiative while the away side concentrated upon counterattacking, a scenario that played into the hands of United's players. In selecting a formation with width, rather than the diamond he has experimented with recently, Ferguson was seeking to attack purposely down the flanks, particularly the right. Chelsea have been vulnerable down the left this season primarily because Eden Hazard's advanced, central positioning leaves Ashley Cole exposed. This was a particularly bad match to leave the left-back alone against two opponents – Antonio Valencia has frequently outperformed him in recent years, with the Ecuadorian possessing both the defensive qualities to track Cole's runs, and the natural drive to attack him. In direct battles between the two, Cole coped reasonably well with Valencia, who completed only one of his six attempted dribbles – but enthusiastic support for Valencia came from the right-back Rafael da Silva. United's second goal was a perfect illustration of Chelsea's problem down the left this season.

Meanwhile, all the papers report that Chelsea have made a formal complaint about referee Mark Clattenburg for using 'inappropriate language' during the match.

The Daily Mail quotes Jonny Evans saying he didn't feel he made enough contact on Fernando Torres to warrant the Spanish striker going down, in the incident which led to the latter receiving a second yellow card for diving.

More: Evans salutes team character | Gallery - Reds beat Blues

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