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Premier League Super Match Time: Chelsea Vs Man United
It’s super-match time at Stamford Bridge with Chelsea set to host Man United in matchweek 18 on Sunday, December 19.
Chelsea lost 3-1 in their traditional season opener when they met the Red Devils in the Community Shield final at Wembley on 8 August. On the back of that result, there was much speculation about how the league season would play out.
Before that game, United were talked about as a team heavily reliant on Wayne Rooney, who had not scored since March. Furthermore, Rooney’s poor form at the World Cup in South Africa did not bode well for Sir Alex’s charges.
Berbatov and Nani had proved inadequate replacements for the departing Ronaldo and Tevez in the 2009-10 season, when the Old Trafford side fell one point short of the title, riding on Rooney’s prolific form during the season.
United’s victory in the Community Shield final was fueled by second-half substitutes Berbatov and Nani combining brilliantly up front, and was boosted by new signings in Valencia and Hernandez, and an aging Scholes, who belied years of him with some spectacular passes.
Van der Sar was as confident as ever between the posts; Vidic and Evans were solid in defence. Rooney, who only played the first half, was quiet apart from a brilliant pass in the box against Valencia from an aerial ball from Scholes that set up Valencia’s goal. Carrick kept it simple with effective short passing, while Park and Owen had quiet games without much energy on display.
While Hernandez’s goalscoring ability was highlighted when he scored United’s second goal of the match, it was Valencia who was outstanding on the day with his runs down the right flank. Cole was simply unable to cope with the pace and guile of the Ecuadorian.
In the absence of Cech, Hilario did the duty between the posts, for Chelsea. He was disappointed by the back four teams with Terry seemingly unfazed by the ghosts of the World Cup. Although Ivanovic and Ferreira were efficient without being brilliant, they were exposed to dangerous crosses following Cole’s inability to close down spaces on Chelsea’s left flank.
Lampard, in deep midfield, like Terry, seemed still to be in the throes of his World Cup hangover, while partner Mikel didn’t do enough to close down space in the rivals’ midfield.
Kalou was the lone bright spot with excellent runs and dribbling, but suffered from a lack of support from his attacking partners. Anelka appeared disjointed and posed no threat to United’s goal. Malouda showed glimpses of his potential, but like Kalou he asked for support he didn’t get.
Drogba, fresh from surgery that kept him out for most of the World Cup, was a shadow of his former self as he came on as a second-half substitute, with Sturridge and Benayoun not given enough space to showed their skills, briefly – half cameos.
A lot of proverbial water has flowed under the Premier League bridge since the Wembley game, which snapped a three-match losing streak for the Red Devils against the Blues.
Chelsea started their season brilliantly with 6-0 wins, albeit against much weaker opposition in West Brom and Wigan. they followed it up with wins over Stoke, West Ham and Blackpool, and after five game weeks looked set to run away with the league title, although arch-rivals Man United recorded a couple of away draws against Fulham and Everton, locked at home . wins against Newcastle, West Ham and Liverpool in their first five games.
Away defeats to Man City and Aston Villa either side of a home win against Arsenal dampened the Blues’ momentum somewhat, but they remained top of the table, although Bolton, Sunderland and West Brom grabbed a point each from the Devils Red. in their next three games.
The Old Trafford side began to regain their stride with back-to-back wins in their ninth and tenth games against Wolves and Blackburn; United won the ninth and tenth against Stoke and Tottenham to keep the Old Trafford hat in the ring.
The following games took the steam out of Chelsea’s campaign, with three defeats against Liverpool, Sunderland and Birmingham and two draws against Newcastle and Everton. With only one win this term, against Fulham, Ancelotti’s side were suddenly third in the points table after 15 weeks at the top.
Meanwhile, Manchester United recorded wins against Wolves, Wigan and Blackburn, along with draws against Man City and Aston Villa in their matches from 11 to 15. With the 16th match against Blackpool called off due to bad weather, United are nice, just one point behind new table leaders Arsenal.
A look at the last nine league games between Chelsea and United makes interesting reading. Chelsea have enjoyed an overwhelming dominance over the Red Devils this term, with five wins and only one defeat.
Chelsea’s record at home this season has been excellent, winning six of their eight fixtures, losing just one and drawing the remaining one.
United’s away record has not been very good in terms of matches won; on the road, Sir Alex’s side have won just a single game while drawing six.
Both teams should go with full strength XIs on December 19. Chelsea will welcome Lampard back into the game and this should give the Blues the stability they currently lack in midfield.
Possible Chelsea XI: Cech, Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry, Cole, Essien, Lampard, Malouda, Kalou, Drogba and Anelka.
Possible Manchester United XI: Van der Sar, Da Silva, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Nani, Carrick, Anderson, Park, Berbatov and Rooney
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