The following article refers to an older Chelsea / Man Utd game. Get the latest Chelsea v Manchester United news here.
Chelsea v Manchester United
English Premier League
Sunday, 08 November, 2009
The last 5 titles in the Premier League have been shared by Manchester United and Chelsea, and as the two best sides in England go head to head on Sunday, it’s bound to be a memorable game no matter what the outcome.
In this article we look at what Manchester United need to do to hold off, and maybe beat, Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, and revisit the predictions made in this week’s Soccerlens Podcast (a must-listen for all football fans).
For United, the game will be all about rectifying the mistakes in tactics and approach that they made at Anfield and ensuring that their system to counter-act Chelsea’s strengths and exploit their weaknesses is implemented properly and not left on the touchline.
With Ancelotti employing a diamond formation in the center of the park and playing two strong, mobile strikers up front, Chelsea are awesome through the middle but vulnerable on the flanks.
Add to this the fact that Chelsea are so strong in the second half of the game, and United have a real battle on their hands.
Can United hold the center?
United would benefit by playing three in central midfield, starting with Carrick as the playmaker and Fletcher and Anderson alongside him alternating between ball-winners and offensive threats.
Two pacy wide players who can run at the defence and beat their man (Valencia on the right and possibly Nani on the left, although Giggs / Rooney would do too) could then take up the advanced winger positions and not only exploit Chelsea’s lack of width but also pin down the opposition fullbacks, allowing United’s own fullbacks to push up and double-team Chelsea’s players.
The threat on the wings translates into pressure on the middle for Chelsea, who would then be forced to lose a man either from midfield or central defence to counter-act the threat posed at the wings. This in turn opens up more space for the central midfield and the target man up front (Berbatov, although he might need to be slapped before the game to fire him up) to get into scoring positions through the middle.
In defence United will need to close down spaces quickly to prevent Lampard and Drogba from shooting from long range while Vidic and Evans (or Brown) will need to defend out of their skins to keep Chelsea players away from EVDS, who’s going to be tested quite a lot in this game on set pieces. Defending corners will be a worry for United as well.
United could win this game if they can manage to avoid losing the battle in midfield and keep feeding the ball to the flanks and use their pace and width to pull Chelsea apart. Considering that Chelsea won their last two home games 5-0 and 4-0, it will be a tall order.
Chelsea v Manchester United Prediction
The Manchester United-Chelsea betting odds point to a home win and there’s little evidence from this season’s results to suggest otherwise. All the big players have lost games away from home (Arsenal to United and City, Chelsea to Villa and Wigan, United to Burnley and Liverpool) and the pattern looks set to continue.
However, this is unlikely to be a goal-fest and United are known for their late comebacks so it should be a tight, close finish, and we’re predicting an upset (assuming that United play according to plan).
Prediction: Chelsea 1-2 Manchester United