Manchester United Vs Chelsea – Preview And Team News Ahead Of The Biggest Game Of The Season

By on April 3, 2010

Premier League TrophyManchester United Vs Chelsea

By Dan Salisbury-Jones

Manchester United face Chelsea this afternoon at Old Trafford in the Premier League‘s biggest game of the season. United are looking to bounce back after a damaging night in Munich on Tuesday, not only did the Reds suffer their 1st away defeat in Europe for 17 games but lost their talisman in Wayne Rooney for at least 2 weeks with a sprained ankle.

Chelsea are historically United’s bogey side, even before their billionaire owner pumped millions into the West London club, United for some reason struggled on many occasions. Premier League results at Old Trafford before his injection of cash read 5 draws, 3 wins and 3 defeats. Considering United’s dominance of this period and Chelsea’s mediocrity its quite remarkable.

In the Ambramovich era though, United have a much better record at Old Trafford, winning 3, drawing 2 and losing just the once to the Londoners with their copious resources.

Players such as Mickey Thomas, Ray Wilkens and Mark Hughes have all played for both these clubs creating obvious links between the 2. In more recent times though, transitions between the 2 clubs have become much more controversial affairs, ‘life long red’ Peter Kenyon made the move from Manchester to become Chelsea’s chief executive and a legal battle for Jon-Obi Mikel eventually resulted in United being paid compensation, despite the midfielder never actually pulling on a red shirt.

An obvious rivalry has ensued with the above adding to the drama created by an annual title race between the 2. This season is no different as just 1 point separates the sides as they go into this game and with Arsenal’s injury woes coupled with dropped points at Birmingham last week, this game could very well decide the destination of the title.

There is an obvious start when reporting on team news for United ahead of this fixture, with the well documented ankle ligament damage, picked up by Wayne Rooney in the closing stages of the defeat in Germany. The England striker should be readied in 2-3 weeks, possibly for the vital looking Manchester derby.

Apart from missing Wayne Rooney, there is plenty of reason for optimism with regards to the team news coming from Carrington. All the other players involved on Tuesday night came through unscathed and so Sir Alex still has a wealth of talent to pick from, he was though visibly displeased with their performance in the magnificent Allianz Arena, especially in their ability to keep hold of the ball and so there could well be a big shake up in midfield.

There was further good news from Sir Alex about Owen Hargreaves and John O’Shea, both are back in contention, he hinted in his pre match press conference that both will feature at least once on the bench in the next 2 games. Owen Hargreaves is actually not eligible to play in the knockout phase of the Champions League, as the Reds decided to not to register him and so Sir Alex’s words would suggest it will be the Canadian born midfielder who will be named on the bench today.

United are still without long term absentees Wes Brown, Michael Owen and the Brazilian, Anderson.

Chelsea have had a week off to prepare for the game as a direct consequence of their elimination from Europe, at the hands of their ex-messiah Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan.

This week, Carlo Ancelotti revealed that Didier Drogba has been playing for months with a hernia problem. The Ivorian striker is apparently only in discomfort after some games and  it doesn’t affect his training, despite missing out against Villa, he will start.

All the talk ahead of this game has been about United’s injury problem, Chelsea can boast a plural version of the word though and will be without Ashley Cole, Jose Bosingwa, Branislav Ivanovic and likely Hilario.

The absence of Michael Essien though could well prove the difference today, as it could well have done against Inter. Michael Essien is a big game player, his energy and dogged style in midfield has nullified United in the past.

Chelsea have had an indifferent 2010, it began in perfect fashion with 5 straight wins in January. February however coincided with revelations about John Terry’s off-field misdemeanours and this seemed to affect the captain’s performances. Chelsea won just twice in the league throughout February but despite a slight hiccup at Ewood Park, March was a vast improvement, including their last match, the 7-1 drubbing of Aston Villa.

United have to be wary of the threat posed by Frank Lampard, the England man has been prolific in recent weeks. Florent Malouda, like Nani, appears to finally be providing the goods to match his potential and must be watched. Yuri Zhirkov tore Aston Villa apart last week and was easily a contender for Man of the Match despite Lampard’s 4 goals. Nicolas Anelka has had a dry 2010, he has in fact gone 11 games without a goal, he will be desperate to score today and is another huge threat.

There is no doubting the size of the today’s task for United, Dimitar Berbatov showed his class in the 4-0 win at Bolton last week and the Bulgarian striker has to shoulder responsibility again today. Rooney’s injury is his best chance yet to prove his £30 million price tag.

Sir Alex will be wanting United to keep the ball a lot better than they did in mid-week, minus Michael Essien this should be possible, however if they don’t then Chelsea will punish them. Losing this game is inconceivable and the knock to confidence could well mean the Reds end up out of Europe by Thursday morning, as well as in the passenger seat in for title.

There is no over estimating the importance of this game to the season, for football fans United Vs Chelsea is the only heavyweight title clash today in Manchester, never mind Haye Vs Ruiz.

So lets here your views on the biggest game of the season so far. Who is going to win? Where will it be won and lost? Can United cope without Rooney? Here at Football-talk, we love to hear your views so get involved in the comments box below with whatever you‘ve got to say…

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