Chelsea v Manchester United: Preview

 

 

 

 

 

There’s certainly plenty of hype surrounding our first game against Manchester United since our Champions League defeat.

Will Chelsea be looking for ‘revenge’? Will they go 9 points clear of the current Champions? And more to the point, does it matter?

If we’re honest, there is no way to avenge Moscow. Even if we battered United tomorrow (which I really don’t believe we will), the events of that night don’t change. And what would 9 points really matter at this stage in such a long season? There’ve been greater gaps than that caught up in much shorter periods of time anyway. There seems to have been so much made of United’s ‘poor’ start to the season and yet, turning the outcome around, with United getting the 3 points and suddenly there isn’t really a gap to talk about anymore seeing as they’d still have a game in hand.

Anyway, ahead of the game, Fergie sounds more than up for it, saying “This is a big game. You want a good haul out of matches against the other top teams. We did very well last season but we have lost the first one already and we cannot afford to lose another. It is a great challenge for us because Chelsea have not lost at home for so long. I know a lot of people do not expect us to win, which is unusual for our club. That is the challenge. Let’s get on with it.”

Scolari, on the other hand, has chosen to play things down, saying “This is one more game – nothing different. When I came to England the challenge was to win the Premier League, not just the games against Manchester United. The challenge for Chelsea is to win all the competitions in which we participate. This is one more game – nothing different. Three points against United are the same three points as against Stoke City, Wigan or Portsmouth. The same. I have videos of Manchester United in this season’s Champions League, and of their last two games in the Premier League. Now is different to what happened in May. Now is important. They have a fantastic group. If they play A, B or C, it’s the same. They have 25 or 26 fantastic players, and they’re in a better condition now than at the start of the season.”

This will be Manchester United’s second ‘Big Four’ game on the bounce and although defeat at Stamford Bridge would equal their worst ever start to a Premier League season, it’s worth noting they haven’t suffered successive defeats in the league for some 122 outings.

Cristiano Ronaldo is expected to feature, with Fergie suggesting he has been ‘begging’ to play and although Dimitar Berbatov is fit, his starting position could be more sedentary, with a place on the bench looking likely for the new boy. He could be kept company there by Owen Hargreaves, with Scholes now back from suspension although there seems to be a little more confusion over which defender will be sitting alongside them. The likelihood is that after a good performance mid-week, Evans could start at right-back, with Neville sitting it out.

For Chelsea, Essien is a long-term absentee although Ballack could return to the starting XI after making his return in the mid-week Champions League game. Drogba, who made a tentative return last week is likely to start on the bench.

 

KEY PLAYERS

CHELSEA

Deco – Has had a very impressive start to his Chelsea career, always lively and creative – and not a player United are used to in the Chelsea midfield.

UNITED

Ronaldo – Desperate to get a game and return to last seasons form. Could be a right handful if put up against Bosingwa.

 

CLUB FORM

CHELSEA

Chelsea go into this one with ten points from their first four games. Unbeaten in 25 Premier League games and the only club with an unbeaten Premier League run this calendar year. Holding onto a record 84 match unbeaten run at home in the Premier League (haven’t lost at Stamford Bridge in the league since February 2004). On the longest current run of 12 games without conceding more than a single goal in the league and have managed 35 top flight games since losing by more than one goal (typically 2-0 away at Old Trafford!) Chelsea have won their last two games against the ‘Big Four’ – home to Arsenal and United.

UNITED

United go into this one with 4 points from three games played, which is actually twice as many as they’d accumulated this time last season. United haven’t lost consecutive Premier League matches since April 2005. On the longest current run of 27 games since they failed to score in the Premier League and have gone 81 games in the league since losing by more than one goal (3-0 at Stamford Bridge). United have lost their last two against the ‘Big Four’ – away to Chelsea and Liverpool.

HEAD TO HEAD

United haven’t won at Stamford Bridge since April 20, 2002. United have been beaten more times by Chelsea in the Premier League than by any other club (10), dropping more points to Chelsea than any other team (56). Both teams have the honour of being the last club to beat the other by more than a single goal.

Home and Away

League (inc PL): Chelsea 37 wins, United 55 wins, Draws 40

Prem: Chelsea 10 wins, United 9 wins, Draws 13

At Chelsea only

League (inc PL): Chelsea 20 wins, United 29, Draws 17

Prem: Chelsea 6 wins, United 4 wins, Draws 6

 

LAST SEASON

Chelsea 2 – 1 Manchester United

Chelsea scorers: Ballack (2)

United scorer: Rooney

26 April 2008 – Ref: Alan Wiley

 

PREDICTION

United haven’t had their best ever start to the season but in this game that means nothing. They’ll be wanting to get back on track and for them, we’re exactly the opposition they need to raise their game right now. With Ronaldo seemingly more eager than ever to play, he could be a right handful. As for Chelsea, the pressure’s on to maintain the home record and we know how much United love ending records. I’ve a feeling we’ll be reverting to a much more defensive game than the previous two we’ve enjoyed and key to this game could be the performances of Ashley Cole and Bosingwa – unfortunately we’ve only seen one of them up against Ronaldo so far. My prediction? Well I reckon Sam Bethell might get the day off.

 

TEAMS

CHELSEA (from): Cech, Cudicini, Hilario, Bosingwa, Terry, Carvalho, A.Cole, Belletti, Obi Mikel, Lampard, Ballack, Deco, Anelka, Drogba, J.Cole, Bridge, Alex, Ferreira, Kalou, Malouda, Di Santo

UNITED (from) Van der Sar, Kuszczak, Brown, Neville, R Da Silva, Ferdinand, Evans, O’Shea, Evra, F Da Silva, Ronaldo, Nani, Hargreaves, Anderson, Possebon, Fletcher, Park, Giggs, Tevez, ROONEY, Berbatov, Manucho, Welbeck.

 

REFEREE

Mike Riley (Leeds)

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