Manchester United’s equaliser against Chelsea might not have been enough to secure three points but earning a richly deserved draw against a side undefeated and currently atop the Premier League was the perfect way to go into a week building up to the derby.
Gary Neville summarised exactly why it was such an important finish from Van Persie: “It’s a big goal for United,” Neville told Super Sunday.
“They’d have been deflated – because they did play well in the game – to come out and lose. It will feel like a win.
“The performance level, forget the result, but the performance level was a higher level than Manchester United have produced all season against an excellent team; the best team in the league.
“They had to step up a level today and they did. I thought they were fantastic in the first half and they genuinely caused Chelsea problems.”
Up against the best the league currently has to offer, United more than matched them without Wayne Rooney, Radamel Falcao, Ander Herrera or Phil Jones.
After poor results against Leicester City, West Brom and MK Dons this season, it was an acid test which United passed.
Ahead of the derby, there’s no better news for United’s squad to learn than the fact they can compete with the league’s best. We’re only three months in to Louis van Gaal‘s revolution and were given the clearest sign yet with the Chelsea draw that what he is building has the potential to be special.
Up next is City on Sunday which is an altogether different prospect but thanks to the lift Van Persie’s goal will give the squad, United should be going into it feeling ready and confident.