Saturday, 4 May 2013

Manchester United vs. Chelsea, A Tactical Preview

Ba Ba Black Sheep, Will you score more goals?
It's Chelsea vs. Manchester United time again. For the fifth time this season, the two teams meet. Chelsea currently lead the series 2-1, with one drawn game. Chelsea have the impressive feat of having the most wins at Old Trafford, at 5, ahead of City and Boro, both at 3 each.(Stat Courtesy: Chelsea Stats on Twitter). Few years back, this game used to have an influence on where the title went. Now it's just a dead rubber for United and a clash to keep themselves in the top four for Chelsea. Somewhere down the line, something went very wrong for us...

Maybe it all started with City becoming a superpower, but the fact that Chelsea have failed to provide even the slightest of challenges to the Mancunians is unnerving. This season has followed a similar course as well.

When Benitez took over as the interim manager, we were 4 points off United. Now, we find ourselves fighting for a CL spot while United have run away with the PL title. But how is it that Chelsea have looked comfortable playing against them? This simply further reaffirms the statement that great teams win matches, good squads win championships. So are we in with a good shout to win this game? More or less, it should be a relatively easier task than before, considering United have already been crowned Champions.


In their last game against fellow top-4 contestants Arsenal, United played on the counter, deciding to not to up the ante after being crowned the previous matchday. It nearly came to Arsenal's benefit as they took the lead. Poor Bacary Sagna, forgetting that van Persie was no longer his teammate, gifted him the ball near the goal. Then his memory returned and he tackled RvP off his feet inside the box. RvP took and converted the ensuing penalty. 1-1. The game didn't have many other highlights, maybe other than Phil Dowd Dowd-ing and handing out yellows like candies early in the game.

Meanwhile, in their last 'big' game, Chelsea managed to survive bites and bruises to draw 2-2 with Liverpool. Chelsea clearly were the better side before the interval. They pivot cleverly negated the creativity of Gerrard and co. and Bertie came infield very well to negate goalscoring dynamo Downing's inverted runs. Chelsea's main outlet of attack were throughballs and lobs by Mata, over the faster-than-just-a-snail Jamie Carragher, to be chased by Zorres Torres. But sadly, the true occupant of the mask returned and the impressive imposter went back into the abyss as Fernando Torres had an incredibly awful game. He was constantly manhandled by Carragher, though. Had Carragher clocked over two bookable offences? Yes. Should he have been sent off? Yes. Was he? Don't kid yourself. Chelsea went into the break with a 1-0 lead with a goal off a corner.

In the second half, however, after the introduction of shootah-boy Sturridge, Liverpool came back into life. Suarez and Sturridge played clever interchanges between themselves and threatened the backline. Their invigorated spirit lasted only a few minutes, but they had equalised by then. 1-1, and they went back to sleep. Chelsea soon found their feet and regained the lead. And then, Suarez happened. The Liverpool forward  inexplicably bit the Ser-bear Branislav Ivanovic. Did he get a red for this? No he didn't. Did he deserve one? He deserved to be behind the bars for such a violent and disgraceful act. As fate would have it, Suarez equalised for the Kop deep into Fergie Time the extra-extra time given by the ref.

A win then, and the two more points would have meant that this game assumed lesser importance lesser than it does now. Currently, we cannot afford to leave OT empty-handed.


Chelsea have Romeu missing, apart from that they're nearly full-strength, now that Cahill and Cole are back as well. Expect Ba to start. For United meanwhile, Welbeck, Fletcher, Yound are unfit to play this game and the participation of Scholes and Vidic is in question as well.

Day and Date: Sunday, May 5, 2013
Time: 16:00 GMT , 11:00 ET , 20:30 IST
TV Schedule: FSC, FS Deportes (US), Sky Sports 1/HD (UK)

Expect this to be a game where United take an early lead, wake Chelsea up and Chelsea clinch the game ~90 minute mark after causing a storm in all of our hearts. KTBFFH !

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