Paul Parker

United defeat had been coming

Paul Parker

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This weekend in the Premier League certainly served up its fair share of thrills and spills. There were plenty of goals, but that almost invariably means plenty of bad defending.

Nowhere was that more obvious than at Molineux. I have been saying for a while that Manchester United's luck would run out and end their unbeaten run sooner or later, but never in a million years did I expect it to happen against Wolves. You have to go a long way back to find the last time the team at the bottom of the table beat the leaders.

Perhaps the signs were there, though. Wolves have had some great results against sides in the upper echelons of the table, and United have been very shaky away from home all season.

After taking an early lead, United conceded one goal following a short corner and another from a free-kick. This should be elementary stuff. It's easy to point to Jonny Evans coming into the team at the last minute after Rio Ferdinand was injured in the warm-up, but it was a collective failure.

Evans may not have developed as much as his initial promise suggested he would, but he is still a player with plenty of big-match experience.

Besides, Nemanja Vidic, as captain, should have helped through a defensive partner who did not have time to prepare mentally for the game, and it was the Serb and Rafael who gave away the cheap set-pieces which led to the goals.

United have conceded plenty of cheap goals with their first-choice pairing on the field, so it's not as though all is rosy when Rio and Vidic are playing together anyway.

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The final match of an exciting weekend saw the much-hyped Chelsea debut of Fernando Torres, but the quality of the match against Liverpool was a letdown.

I said on Friday that Torres owes Liverpool an apology for the way he acted in the last part of his time at Anfield, and I suppose in a way they got it after his poor debut. 

Carlo Ancelotti was stuck between a rock and a hard place in his decision to start his new record signing. After an emotional week which saw him leave Liverpool to much abuse from his once adoring fans, perhaps it would have been wiser not to start him against his old club, especially with him crammed into an attack which also featured Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka.

On the other hand, I'm sure Roman Abramovich would have had a word or two for his manager if he left £50 million worth of newly-acquired talent on the bench!

In the end, Torres's presence only served to rev up Liverpool that little bit more, especially with Jamie Carragher returning to the team.

His presence in the squad now raises plenty of questions about Chelsea's team selections and tactics. There was a marked lack of width in their team, which played right into Liverpool's hands. I'm sure every other manager preparing to play them will have taken note.

Can Ancelotti persist with playing all three if it means Frank Lampard is denied both the space in midfield to work and the service from out wide upon which he thrives? How long will a player of Florent Malouda's class tolerate being used primarily as an impact substitute? Will Drogba throw his toys out of the pram if his form suffers as a result?

Something is going to have to give to make this work for Chelsea. We'll find out soon enough what that will be.

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