Chelsea vs Manchester United 1st leg Preview 4/6


The previous night in Europe must have surely given everyone a run for their money. Spurs spoke to length about the only way they know to play, but lack of experience at this level, has possibly brought  an abrupt end to their European dream run. King Mou was quick to bounce back after a very rare defeat at home the weekend. But the more shocking of the two ties was how the defending champions managed to give away a 2 goal lead and be ripped apart with 3 goals in the second half. Stankovic’s unbelievable strike from the halfway line doesn’t offer them any solace. Inter ‘s entry to this round was after a spectacular comeback against Bayern; anything is possible.

Head  to Head

  • In all competitions, MU – 67, Chelsea – 44 and Draws – 47. This season United beat Chelsea 3-1 in the Community Shield, but lost 1-2 in the league
The managers may claim it's not about revenge, but am sure this man will be on a mission tonight
  • The last time these two teams clashed in Europe, Manchester United went on to win the Final {2008} beating Chelsea over penalties. Misses from John Terry and Nicholas Anelka cost them the title.
  • United at ChelseaMU – 31, Chelsea – 23 and Draws – 19.

United has not won a single game at Stamford Bridge in the last 9 years, last winning in April 2002.

Form Guide

  • In all competitions;
    • MU – WWWWL
    • Chelsea – DWDWW

From the Dugout

  • Chelsea Manager Carlo Ancelotti’s track record is brilliant against United in Europe. Twice he has managed to beat United while at Milan; the memories of Kaka at OT don’t fade.
  • After another draw in the weekend against Stoke, it’s not the ideal start to April for the Blues.

Carlo Ancelotti – We have to play 180 minutes so obviously we want to start well, but everything will be settled at Old Trafford. Nothing will be decided tomorrow. It’ll be different playing United in the Champions League. We have very good confidence and are concentrated. We want to reach the semi-final if possible; if we play better than United we can do that.[The 2008 final] is the past and doesn’t matter. I have a good record against United but we want to focus on the next game and that will be a different story. We’re in good shape. We have to play against a fantastic team, but we have the confidence to do our best. For many years Chelsea have been very close to winning the Champions League and they have the players to win it. Unfortunately they were not good at those moments, but hopefully this season we will have better luck.

The Champions League is not an obsession; it is the most important competition in the world and it’s fantastic. I told my players that we have to be happy because every player and manager in the world wants to be involved in matches like this. You have to be happy to have that chance but you want to win also. This type of game can grow your history as a club, so it’s important we progress.

  • Sir Alex Ferguson is in an overall good mood after a wonderful comeback against Westham this weekend which has moved them closer to a 19th. However, Rooney’s unnecessary gibberish in front of the camera has kept him busy.

Sir Alex FergusonWe had a two-legged game against Arsenal two years ago, which was the first time we’ve seen [an all-English tie] and we tried to approach it in the way we usually would away from home in Europe. This is different because we’re away first, but the name of the game is to hopefully go back to Old Trafford with a goal or two in our pocket. It won’t change our attitude in trying to win the match, but we want to make sure we go back there with a great chance of qualifying. If we get some advantage we’ll be very difficult to beat on our own ground.

I was very happy to get the second leg at home, it will be a quite magnificent atmosphere and the fans will be really up for it. When Old Trafford’s like that it’s a wonderful place to be. Hopefully we’ll go back with something to defend, but we keep making amazing things happen there. The Champions League is definitely [Chelsea]’s driving force, so it will be a difficult game. We used to have a fantastic record in London. The last few years have been poor, but we’ve played well mostly and we need to work on getting that record back, starting here.

Moscow was a really good final. Penalties is always a sore one for the team that loses, but when you win a European final you don’t care how you do it; winning means everything, you’ve gone so far and through so many moments of emotion to get there. It was a great achievement for our club because it was the third time we’d won it. I don’t believe players think about revenge. The motivation to win this game is greater than thinking about a match three years ago.

Team News

  • Chelsea: Alex remains doubtful, while Yossi Benayoun is fit.
  • Manchester United: Owen, Anderson, Evans, O’Shea, Rafael, Brown are available. Rio is training since a week (doubtful)

Milestone

Frank Lampard: huge milestone for the English midfielder. He will be playing his 500th game in a blue shirt tonight.

Predictions

  • Manchester United: Van der Sar, Evra-Vidic-Rio-Rafael [Evra-Vidic-Smalling-O’Shea], Carrick, Park-Anderson-Scholes-Nani, Rooney [4-1-4-1]
  • Chelsea: Cech, Cole-Terry-Ivanovic-Bosingwa, Malouda-Lampard-Essien-Ramires, Anelka, Drogba|Torres [4-4-1-1]
  • Score: 1-1

‘Tis April – The Business end of the Premier League – CHELSEA (1)


Usually when we reach the fag end of a season, the Top 4 that is always at the tip of our tongues – Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool (Man City). Well this was not the season where the top 4 were at their supreme best. Stumbles have decided the pecking order, rather than remarkable team form.

The defending champs, Chelsea, started the season with a lot of promise; only to wither mid season due to internal issues and questionable player performances.

Manchester United were driven forward more with the grit and determination of SAF and his troops without ever reaching their peak. Untimely injuries, off the pace legends and lack of quality replacements in the centre of the park have kept them subdued.

Arsene’s Arsenal are a side that is ever improving, but their innate qualities of losing ground when least expected, and the manager’s stubbornness to deviate even 1o from his principles has seen them also staring down another RUNNERS UP season.

2 managers, 2 different outcomes, Liverpool, has shown a lot of fight to rise from the dead after almost battling relegation mid season.

The noisy neighbours, Manchester City, ably lead by Mancini [I say ably, cause he no doubt has the toughest managerial job], are on course to achieve their top4 goal. What happens next, we shall soon see.

Let’s start off with defending champs, Chelsea

Rewind..

  • First 5 games: Beats West Brom and Wigan 6-0 and trumps Blackpool 4-0 – The champs get off to a flyer
  • 8/8: Loses first silverware [Community Shield 1-3 Manchester United]
  • 9/22: Knocked out of Carling Cup [3-4 Newcastle United]
  • 11/11: Departure of Assistant Coach Ray Wilkins marked the downcurve of the Blues progress in the league.
  • Barren run: 11/7 to 12/27 – Chelsea’s form read P 8 W 0 D 4 L 4  – saw them drop out of pole position.
  • January: Roman gets into the act. 2 massive signings – David Luiz £21.3mand Fernando Torres£50m
  • 2/19: Loses to Everton in FA Cup 1-1 [penalties]
  • Feb/Mar: P 6 W 4 D 1 L 1. Resurgence. Ancelotti and Luiz bag the Barclay awards.
Carlo's second this season and Luiz' first.

Road ahead..


Team News

  • 8 games in the month of April, with 3 in the first ten days, a fit squad will be key considering Chelsea have only European glory to chase and having to win all games in the league to exert any pressure on the top 2.
  • Yossi Benayoun‘s return to footballing action last week [20 min, Israel] means he is one more weapon for Chelsea to wield and none other than Torres will be looking forward more.

Round 1

(A) Brittannia Stadium: Following Manchester United’s early kick off at Upton Park, the Blues will battle it out against the Potters (1930 IST ESPN). Any point taken there will be a struggle and well worth it.  I go for a 1-2 with Torres to score the winner. [I see Torres returning to his old self this month – the scene is set for him.]

Next post will be on table toppers and the very likely title winners  – MUFC.

Nani – Rightly deserves his own identity


What brings me to writing this post is when some of my friends on twitter were insistent that the Manchester United No. 17, Luís Carlos Almeida da Cunha aka NANI is an offprint of the two time Barclays Player of the Season and 2008 Ballon d’Or Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro aka CR7.

Here am going to compare and contrast the two players and hope by the end of this article, there will be more than one reason for Nani to be known for the player he is.

Early Days, Background

CR7 [Feb 05 1985]: Started playing for Andorinha [8 years] where his dad was working as a kit man. Sporting CP subsequently signed him and he played for the U-17 Portugese team in 2001-02.

Nani [Nov 17 1986]: Learned football from his elder brother. When he turned 14, his brother took him along to train with Real Massama. Soon started training with Sporting and Benfica. Was a fan of Porto and idolized Luis Figo.

Scouting

CR7: His guile and trickery came to the attention of SAF when Sporting Lisbon beat Manchester United 3-1 at home in 2003. Subsequently he became the first Portugese player to sign for United for around £12m.

Nani: “I would only leave Portugal for a club like United. The Premiership is a spectacular league and the chance to play with Ronaldo would be a dream.” Upon CR7’s encouragement and the fact Tottenham had just robbed United the opportunity to sign Gareth Bale; SAF beat Spurs to signing [around £25m] his 2nd Portugese winger touted to replace Ryan Giggs [Giggs had just announced his international retirement and ‘was’ expected to quit club football in a season or two].

STATISTICS [at United]

Season-wise Cristiano Ronaldo

Luis Nani

Appearances Goals Assists® Appearances Goals Assists®
2003-04 49 9 3
2004-05 33 5 4
2005-06 46 12 6
2006-07 41 23 13
2007-08 48 42 7 41 4 6
2008-09 45 25 6 31 6 4
2009-10 34 7 10
2010-11 34* 10* 15*

®All Assist stats are from the Premier League only.
*Current Season

ATTRIBUTES

*All ratings below are my personal views. Feel free to share your opinion.

Attributes Cristiano Ronaldo Luis Nani
Pace ↑↑↑↑ ↑↑↑
Dribbling ↑↑↑ ↑↑↑
Two feet ↑↑↑ ↑↑↑
Wing play ↑↑↑ ↑↑↑
Free Kicks ↑↑↑↑ ↑↑
Finishing ↑↑↑↑ ↑↑↑
Crossing ↑↑↑ ↑↑↑↑
Defending ↑↑ ↑↑↑↑

My Conclusion

  • Same schooling and similar backgrounds, they both grew up watching and idolizing the prolific Portugese winger Luis Figo.
  • Similarity in their attributes makes it even harder to differentiate them.
  • The fact that Nani appeared in the same team in England 3 years after CR7 joined, all his skills were likened to be a raw version of the fine tuned CR7.
  • The departure of CR7 to Real Madrid to pursue his dream after some record breaking seasons in English football, generally the fans expected Nani to take up the mantle of what CR7 left, piling more pressure onto him.
  • His current season is a perfect example of him making a mark of his OWN, patrolling the wings, terrorizing full backs, turning games on it’s head. Valencia’s injury technically forced him to become the GO-TO man, and he thankfully obliged.
  • He is a more complete winger than Cristiano was for United, and of course less whiny and works his socks off to fall back and defend for the team’s cause.
  • His play acting can be attributed to his immaturity, but he is an artist with the ball at his feet. And to see Jamie Carragher put his foot through [and possibly ending his career] is a criminal act which went unpunished. [Going to blog on refereeing as well soon!
  • Nani may never be a CR7, cause the latter is a much more all round player and rightfully among the best in the world. His compatriot has enough talent to be the best in his department. And this season is a justification to his maturity as a player and a person both on and off the field.

All I want to say is, in my opinion, this season he is showing signs of making his own mark and is by far the best winger this season, if not among the top 3 midfielders.

References

1.       http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/8453/Ferguson goes on the attackFerguson-goes-on-the-attack#ixzz1GUM5faH6

2.       http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cristiano_Ronaldo

3.       http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nani_%28footballer%29

4.       http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/teams/m/man_utd/6707383.stm

5.       http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_product=NewsLibrary&p_multi=BBAB&d_place=BBAB&p_theme=newslibrary2&p_action=search&p_maxdocs=200&p_topdoc=1&p_text_direct-0=0FEC3B21671C6739&p_field_direct-0=document_id&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D&s_trackval=GooglePM

6.       http://www.premierleague.com/page/Statistics

Chelsea Vs Manchester United Preview Mar 1


Kick off: March 2, 2011 0115 IST at Stamford Bridge, Live on ESPN
Match Referee: Martin Atkinson

Games played Won Drawn Lost Goal Difference Points
Manchester United 27 17 9 1 36 60
Arsenal 27 17 5 5 30 56
Manchester City 28 14 8 6 19 50
Tottenham Hotspur 27 13 8 6 7 47
Chelsea 26 13 6 7 24 45

 

When I had written a preview to this fixture which was scheduled to occur two months ago, United were in the ascendancy, while Chelsea in the beginning of a slump. When the fixture was controversially postponed, it was thought, it boded well for the Champions, and that come March, we would have a title deciding battle. Oh how things have changed in 8 weeks!

Bring it on!

The limelight to the buildup of this game has been stolen by Rooney’s elbow and Cole’s shooting extravaganza. While United fans argue Rooney’s act is getting unwarranted attention from the media, Anti United fans are of the opinion, Rooney always gets let off! Either way, IMO, it was a cynical act no matter what the reason and with the FA’s reputation for inconsistency accompanied by Clattenburg’s view of the incident, meant there was no way Rooney would get into any trouble. As for Cole, well God only knows what the hell he was doing with a rifle at work!

Cricket may be the sport of gentlemen, but in football, we somehow tend to look at only the footballer in the person and hence we move on to another exciting fixture.

Recent form

Manchester United: WWLWW
Chelsea: WWWLD

  • Trailing 15 points behind United, every fixture ahead is crucial for Chelsea to achieve a Champions League spot.

Head to Head

  • Chelsea has never been kind to United at home, well they used to hold an impeccable home record until this season where they have already seen 2 defeats in the league. [Sunderland 0-3, Liverpool 0-1]
  • United have a dismal scoring record and have failed to win a game in the last 9 visits. [last win in 2002]

statistically relevant, formwise.. doubt it

Heroes|Zeroes

  • Didier Drogba has been disappointing ever since he lost out to a bout of malaria. The arrival of Torres has not helped his mood much either. With Nico and Torres getting to enjoy each other’s company on the pitch, Drogs’ has to do the the 15 min fill up|super sub striker role henceforth.
  • Fernando Torres has a fantastic track record having scored 4 times in the last 3 meetings. He might be in an odd form right now in a new outfit, but he manages to bring out the best in him in the big fixtures. Watch out.
  • Vidic has to be spoken in the same wavelength as Torres. Keeping him quiet will be premier priority for the Captain and he needs to be at his best.
  • Nani – Cole will be a battle to watch. The Portugese is doing everything right this season and has been pivotal to United’s pole position, expect a show.
  • Wayne Rooney – has scored one out of the world goal already this season, add that to the elbow and we have an extreme package available; will have to wait and see which Wazza turns up.
watch out for Nani!

Injuries

Manchester United: Twitter pro Rio Ferdy continues to enjoy tweeting on the sidelines [calf] while slowly but steadily Chris Smalling takes over his slot with some standout performances. Valencia has returned to first team training, while Park [hamstring], Anderson [knee] and Evans – unavailable.

Chelsea: Fitness isn’t Carlo’s worry, form is, and having had a relieving performance in Europe, the blues will look to regain control.

Squads and Prediction

Manchester United: Van der Sar, Evra, Vidic, Smalling, Rafael, Giggs, Scholes, Carrick, Fletcher, Nani, Rooney

Chelsea: Cech, Cole, Terry, Luiz, Ivanovic, Malouda, Essien, Lampard, Anelka, Kalou, Torres

I go for a scored draw 11

Wigan 0 – 4 Manchester United Feb 26


Returning from Europe after a tough game, Sir Alex still had some injuries to contend with. He resorted to a full strength attacking squad with Chicharito getting one of those rare starts. He opted for a 4-4-2 clearly indicating nothing below 3 points will be entertained

0-45

Wigan started bright, in fact as always the bottom 3 teams play with a lot of vigor against United. United were struggling to get hold of the game when a string of opportunities from Moses and Mc Carthy were beautifully denied by Van der Sar who just doesn’t seem to age.

An off the ball incident in the middle of the park where Rooney elbowed Mc Carthy in the face , was a blatant red, which even as a MUFC fan, I find it appalling how Mark Clattenberg could award JUST a free kick. This incident marked the start to a multitude of poor decisions in the first half for the referee who didn’t do his reputation any good amongst the home or away fans.

A brilliant back flick at 12’ released Mc Carthy one on one on the right wing, but VdS was alert and quick to smother an attempt which surely should have been in the back of the net. A couple of careless passing by Scholes and Smalling exposed VdS but he was the pick of the United players in the first half.

At 17’, United broke forward with Rooney and Nani on the left exchanging a 1-2, which released Nani to the edge of the box from where he sent a nice low cross for Chicharito to slot in at the near post. As always, Chicharito’s composure in front of goal is fantastic and he made the goal look a stroll in the park.

Nani continued to revel in the latter stages of the first half creating few opportunities, once finding the keeper, the side netting and the upright!

46’- 90’ +3min

The game ebbed and flowed with equal possession, both teams playing open football, the irony where was Wigan all this season.. if they continue to play like this they will survive.

As we neared the final quarter, the closing stages of the game – I was biting my nails with NZogbia’s drives and Rodallega’s energy always a threat! However a wonderful 1-2 between Rooney and Chicharito released him one on one with the keeper with only one outcome.

This goal opened the floodgates as Gibson who came on for Scholes, sent a long ball to find Berbatov running in open ground behind Alcaraz, sending a soft cross for a tap in for Wazza. The icing on the cake was for Fabio, who came on in the final few min and managed to get himself at the end of a Fletcher cross, totally unmarked, and slotting well past Al Habsi – making it a rout eventually.

FINAL VERDICT

  • Turning point: Red card for Rooney – didn’t happen, so the turning point is Van der Sar’s brilliant block of Mc Carthy’s 12’ attempt which would have turned the game on its head.
  • FA wont take any action considering Mark already dished out a freekick and didn’t deem it a foul worthy of even a yellow.
  • Spirited performance from Wigan is what is needed for them to survive and ofcourse a bit of luck.
  • Crucial win for United with 2 big fixtures away at Stamford and Anfield. 3 points at the former will mount immense pressure on Arsenal to fight back.

PLAYER RATINGS

  • Van der Sar 9.0 Evra 8.5 Vidic 8.5 Smalling 8.5 O’Shea 8.5 Nani 8.75 Scholes 8.5 Carrick 8.75 Fletcher 8.5 Rooney 9.5 Chicharito 9.25
  • Subs: Fabio 8.5 Gibson 8.5 Berbatov 8.5

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