London: Patrice Evra saw enough during Sunday`s entertaining 3-1 victory over Chelsea at Old Trafford to predict that the London club, rather than Manchester City, will be Manchester United`s main Premier League title rivals this season.
Chelsea had 20 attempts at goal during a rip-roaring contest and, but for some wasteful finishing, could have halted United`s early-season charge which has returned maximum points from their first five games, their best start for 26 years.
"It was like a boxing fight, I give you and you give me back. It was really strange," United left back Evra said of an absorbing contest which contained magnificent attacking from both sides -- a vivid contrast to the tight affairs often served up when top-four clubs clash.
"I have a lot of respect for Chelsea. People talk about City and us but I always say Chelsea are our most difficult opponents as you can see.”
"They didn`t come here just to defend but they attacked and looked to score goals and create chances. I couldn`t believe the goal didn`t go in from Fernando Torres. Maybe God was with us."
Torres sliced a shot wide of a gaping net with 10 minutes remaining when a Chelsea goal could have caused some jitters in a United defence who were often stretched by the movement of the adventurous visitors.
While United looked full of goals, they did offer Chelsea plenty of opportunities. Manager Alex Ferguson described the display as careless and Evra agreed that the champions, who lead the table by two points from City with Chelsea five points back, will have to tighten up.
"Maybe for the first time, we didn`t control all the game," Evra told Manchester United TV. "Five wins is a good start but I always want more. I`m happy to win but I hope in the next league game, against Stoke, we create more and not try to rush things.”
"I think we tried to rush things and gave the ball away too easily. It`s why I`m not so happy. I`m happy because there`s a lot of positive things and we scored three times against Chelsea but, if we want to win the league and win every game, we have to perform better than on Sunday."
While Chelsea`s Andre Villas-Boas was left to pick over a first defeat since taking over from Carlo Ancelotti, the Portuguese remained upbeat about Chelsea`s response to going 3-0 down by halftime.
"I am very happy with how our team reacted to such a negative half-time result and we showed commitment and desire to turn things around," he told Chelsea`s website.
"It`s good the team is able to assume responsibility for things not going their way and coming back to try to get something at Old Trafford when Man United are in such a goalscoring spree.”
"It takes some balls for the players to assume this kind of game when they come back for the second half."