The season may be winding down, but Sir Alex Ferguson appears in no mood to for his team to let up just yet. Manchester United’s creditable draw at Arsenal last weekend followed a slow start at the Emirates, but a strong second half performance left Ferguson’s men disappointed to leave the north London with just a point.
What then of United’s fixture with Chelsea at Old Trafford on Sunday? With little on the line for the Reds, but everything for Rafa Benitez’ visitors, it is another match of contrasting motivations.
The title secured, Ferguson’s men have little but a modicum of revenge at stake. And pride in the integrity of competition, of course, with Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur each chasing Champions League places.
After all, while United secured victory at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League earlier this season, Chelsea knocked Ferguson’s side out of two cup competitions during the campaign.
Meanwhile, Benitez has just a handful of games to secure Champions League football next season, with Chelsea in a three-way race for third and fourth spots in the Premier League.
United, in relaxed mood, will surely lack the a certain edge on the biggest occasion, of course. But if the Reds’ second-half performance against Arsenal is any evidence, Ferguson is unlikely to being in charitable mood. Not, of course, given the personal animosity between the Scot and Benitez, which has rarely been kept below the surface since the Spaniard’s “facts” rant in January 2009.
This is a relationship built on anything but trust and mutual respect. Indeed, Benitez is one of the few managers to eschew the norms of managerial conduct, says Ferguson. The Spaniard accused Ferguson of refusing to shake his hand after the 2-2 FA Cup draw earlier this season.
“At the end of a game I always shake hands and we always have a meeting in my office afterwards with both sets of staff,” said the 71-year-old United manager this week.
“It is the right thing to do. It is an opportunity to get away from the game itself. You maybe see managers twice a year, so that opportunity to spend half an hour with them after a match is vital. You can discuss your jobs and a lot of issues.
“It is not easy if you have lost a game to go in. It is our chance to show we are Manchester United. No matter the result, go in. He (Benitez) came in once when he was at Liverpool. I don’t think he has come in again.”
Benitez says he will not share a glass with Sir Alex on Sunday either whatever the result.
Chelsea beat FC Basel on Thursday to reach the Europa League final, one goal of the three handed to Benitez when he took the reigns earlier in the campaign.
The west London outfit lost an FA Cup semi-final to Manchester City, while the Blues slipped to fourth in the Premier League after victories for both Arsenal and Spurs on Saturday. Next Wednesday’s clash against Spurs could prove decisive in the race for fourth.
But it has also been a period of upheaval at Stamford Bridge, with Benitez not only facing protests from the terraces, but standing accused of prioritising cup competitions over Chelsea’s greater need for Champions League football next season.
“He is very concerned about his CV,” jibed Ferguson. “He refers to it quite a lot.”
Meanwhile, Benitez this week accused Ferguson of buying years of success – and suggested that the relationship between the two managers has been strained only because of the Spaniard’s challenge to the older man.
“When you are with a top side, and you have had more money than anyone for years, then you can keep winning and you can keep talking,” said Benitez, who will again be out of a job come 19 May.
“He doesn’t (like me), he doesn’t, but it depends on the moment. You have to do what you have to do for your team. At the time (2009), he knew that Liverpool were very close. That was the situation. Now it is very different because they have won the title. But are they better than Manchester City? I am not sure. Are they better than Chelsea? I am not sure.”
While United’s points lead over City stands at 13, it is 20 greater than Chelsea’s. Still, Sunday offers another opportunity for bragging rights in a techy relationship between the two men.
Ferguson’s team heads into the clash fresher, but without a clutch of players. Ashley Young remains out, while Danny Welbeck is unlikely to return before next week’s fixture with Swansea City. However, veteran Paul Scholes should return to the squad for Sunday’s match.
“Welbeck is out of Sunday,” Sir Alex confirmed. “The rest are all fit. Scholes and Vidic are training and I’ll probably put Scholes on the bench on Sunday to get him back into the fray. I’d love him to play in the Swansea game.
“Chelsea have done fantastically well over the last few weeks and they are in the final of the Europa League. Chelsea are chasing a Champions League place as well and we’ll be playing the strongest team we can. We need to play with good enthusiasm and enjoy it. We should express ourselves and try to finish off a good season.”
Meanwhile, Benitez’ team heads north with rumours of José Mourinho’s return to Stamford Bridge resonating throughout the travelling support. It will do little but undermine the Spaniard’s position.
Still, with the Blues reaching the Europa League final, the mood in the camp is buoyant. The side also receives a double boost, with left-back Ashley Cole returning after missing Thursday’s Europa League win over Basel through suspension, and striker Demba Ba is also available again.
Oscar, John Terry and Eden Hazard could all return after being rotated out of the side for the clash with Basel. However, Benitez must balance his line-up against United against the one that played against the Swiss, and Wednesday’s crucial fixture with Spurs.
Manchester United v Chelsea – Premier League, Old Trafford – 4pm, 5 May 2013
United (4-2-3-1): de Gea; Rafael, Vidić, Ferdinand, Evra; Carrick, Giggs; Valencia, Rooney, Kagawa, van Persie. Subs from: Lindegaard, Büttner, Jones, Evans, Powell, Scholes, Cleverley, Anderson, Nani, Welbeck, Hernández
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech; Ivanovic, Terry, Luiz, Cole; Lampard, Mikel; Oscar, Hazard, Mata; Torres. Subs from: Turnbull, Hilario, Bertrand, Terry, Azpilicueta, Ramires, Moses, Benayoun, Marin, Ake, Ferreira, Ba.
Referee: Howard Webb
Assistants: M Mullarkey, S Massey
Fourth Official: A Marriner
Last 10: United 5, Chelsea 3, Draw 2
Overall: United 72, Chelsea 46, Draw 49
- Wayne Rooney’s future may be uncertain, but his numbers remain positive, with 123 attacking contributions this season, as well as a pass in the opponent’s half once every 3.1 minutes on average;
- French international Patrice Evra currently lies third in the United squad for crosses delivered with 42 – he is the second oldest full-back in the league to have broken the 30-cross barrier, behind Reading’s Nicky Shorey;
- Danny Welbeck has been deployed up-front and on the flank this season, but boasts just a 56.3 per cent shot accuracy rate in front of goal despite managing an attempt on goal once every 42.2 minutes he’s been on the pitch;
- Frank Lampard scored last week, edging the midfielder towards a club record goals tally – Lampard has achieved a shot accuracy rate of 63.5 per cent from 63 attempts this season, one shot every 44.3 minutes on the pitch;
- David Luiz has made more interceptions than any other Blues player this season with 122, as well as averaging at a squad-best rate of defensive contributions – one every 13.1 minutes according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index;
- Eden Hazard lies second to Juan Mata as Chelsea’s main creative force, making an attacking contribution (dribble, cross, shot on target or assist) on average once every 16.5 minutes, as well as joining an elite group of players to have made a pass in the opponent’s half once every 3 minutes or less on average.
118 thoughts on “Preview: United v Chelsea”
For me, this is a must win game… if we can do the Renties here, then we give Spurs the chance to knock them out of the Champs League next week.
Spurs will lose at the bridge..they can barely win games at home
Chelsea will win 2:0 they owned united this season..first game at the bridge
United only won coz of stupid ref..chelsea knocked out united from both cups
And won the last game as well and today you heard it here first brace from Ba
strange comments from fat rafa
dunno if id rather chelsea get 4th so we get bale or spurs get 4th so chelsea dont get jose
although we wont get bale, and theyll probably get jose regardless and then win the league
Levy hates us. No way we get Bale. Ronaldo probably more likely.
What a team:
Raf Evans Vida Evra
Valencia Anderson Jones Cleverley Giggs
Moses in for Hazard for them. Rooney on bench.
bemch: ddg rio roo chich scholes kag butt
everyone gets rotated
What the fuck is that team
Two of Anderson/Clev/Giggs presumably playing at LW and 10.
This is the first good team Anderson has started against all season
Not one that’s likely to win. So much for doing right by le Arse and Spurs.
Oh ffs fergie.. Well at least I can have an early night when we’re down two at half time.
Wish Kagawa was playing…
anderson’s last chance audition?
Should just play kagawa Nani Giggs Rooney RVP and just played some class football. But fuck I suppose watching us get bummed by the rent boys for 90 minutes will be just as entertaining
Jones following mata
Lindergaard the flapper
valencia already embarrassing himself
Fuckin stupid shite lineup… if Ferguson is going to field a bunch of fringe players, why not play Powell???… it’s stupid lineups like this that convinced Pogba he was better off elsewhere.
Pogba sent off today lol.
MANCHESTER IS MY HEAVEN- SIR MATT BUSBY
This lineup smacks of ready made excuses for losing…
I’m glad it’s not just me. He’s fucking horrendous! Is Fergie fucking watching or what??
Lol at ando trying to chest it down only to have it bounce 10 yards off his beer gut
We have nothing to play for and still Powell doesn’t get a look in. We’ve never had a chance like this to play younger players in proper games where we have nothing to lose.
3 times Ba has been in at the far post
He’s gonna score one today
New low for Anderson. Misses a tap in and blocks Cleverley’s shot
chelsea goal is coming
The cunt is strong in this one
It’s no wonder the likes of Ramsey, Walcott and Bale turn down united.
Ferguson keeps picking Valencia for his one dimensional, kick, chase, cross bollocks… and the cunt isn’t even any good at it… none of his fuckin crosses find anyone.
Nice little ball from Jones to set Clev free
Clev, work on your shooting you twat
Giggs’ first time ball though, nobody better
Giggs 3 yards on side ffs
Clevs twice now showing his lack of composure and technique
Come on United.
Our piss take team has dominted this half
Chelsea have had a go n all
rvp nearly there…
stick rooney on and kagawa
Giggs is still so good. Evra obviously injured. Why not take him off?
Some good piss taking from the fans in that half
When they started taking the piss Chelsea dropped as if to say aah fuck it it’s their day we’re insignificant
Agree. Personally would loce to see Chelski not have 4th, but if Tottenham not 4th means better chance of getting Bale then of course want that…
Question is how realistic Bale really is….probably not very…
WE WON’T GET BALE!!!
MUST BEAT THE RENTIES!!!
what about valencia sid
Jones, you div
His pace when the break was on though, chrome shovel
Shite, crossing has been an abomination
Valencia has just been elected new Mayor of Cuntsville.
WTF Ferguson… bring on some fuckin attack!
Terry grooming Rooney on the sidelines.
It’s game is SHIT.
Ferguson doesn’t give a fuck about winning this game… as long as he doesn’t lose… pitiful.
Bout fuckin time.
Buttner on the wing. Yes
Taggart has checked out, he’s only gonna get a hard on if Mourinho comes, otherwise he is going to spend the summer at the races buying horse spunk, doing a tour of French vineyards and getting rinsed on Teachers Tesco Reserve.
Look at the fucking state of him. Get a fucking decent jacket for fucks sake.
Yeah, there’s nothin wrong with our midfield… right now we’ve got a striker, a left back, and a pensioner in the middle… quality all over the pitch.
Shocking play from Rooney
Wake up ffs
Buttfuckner is the White Valencia.
This is shit from Chelsea
They’re meant to be playing for fourth, we’re just playing for the lols
One of the lines”men” has a FANNY!
I could do with a Nandos.
Ramirs kicks out at Jones because he got monstered
Fuck off Luiz you poodle headed shit dog.
Has there been a shot on target this half?
Luiz is such a child, tantrums, elbows etc.
Giggs stopped running, just watched the play
I think De Gea saves that.
Phil Jones, what a useless lump. He’s not a defender or a midfielder, just a headless chicken chasing a balloon.
FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT
If that’s a red Ramirez should be off for trying to kick jones in the face
LUIZ IS A THUNDER CUNT HE’S FUCKING LAUGHING ON THE GROUND.
How can Taggart let them get away with this.
Raf kicks out, misses, Luiz lays on the floor laughing pretending to be hurt
Benitez is loving it.
What is that shit on Nandos face?
Don’t matter, Taggart is gonna get pissed tonight either way.
what was our midfield at the end there
So when we played with no midfield they scored
Giggs sat off a lot, uninterested, and then moaned, because he’s there to play through balls and first time crosses, not track runs and all that shite, you need young people to do that
Shit all round
Ando Clev Valencia are just poor. Some glimpses of good play from Clev but otherwise poor. Need to ship them out and get ONE good midfielder
Rooney…well I root for him but he’s just not making it easy really…bad passes bad 1st touches sloppy giveaways….
Anyhow, meaningless game and it shows in how they played…
How many times is it that Chelsea have stuffed us this season?
Chelsea were shit and still we couldn’t be arsed. Fucking annoyed. Atleast we could have tried to play some younger players. Valencia and Clev were shit. Anderson did well actually. Not surprised by Luiz actually. A shit person and an uber cunt. Rafael shouldn’t have kicked out though.
We could have really fucked Chelsea over with a win today, even with Roman’s millions its hard to lure the best players without CL football…
we lost but atleast valencia got a good 90 minutes under his belt, hes a young player who needs games
I know it’s unfair to point this out because City dropped points and we won the league last week of April and since then our manager has had the licence to think like a troll and our players play like fairies (OK, saw The Hobbit a few days ago on DVD). But imagine for a moment City didn’t drop any points in their run in so far — and our last results were thus critical to deciding the Championship. Then the form looks a lot like what happened in the run-in last year: won 2, lost 2, drawn 2 if we include the City game. Not only is this shabby, but if City won all their games the 15pt lead would be down to 5 with 2 matches to go. Still easy –but could have taken us to the last day. It’s not the resonating triumph we might have wished.
If the title had yet to be decided the performance and intensity in both matches would have been completely different.
Our team wouldn’t have been hungover at the Emirates for a start.
But the team might have been jittery as hell and got into fear of meltdown and ended up with less than 8pts from 6 games. We lose cup games — suggesting we are not a team than can produce intensity –we are pace ourselves marathon runners who can’t really sprint home like we once could. If we had been we would have killed City at OT
We just couldn’t be arsed today and it shows how much we need another quality CM to help Carrick and to allow him to rest. Luiz is a fucking scumbag… probably on the same level as Suarez.
I’ve got better things to do with my time and money than go and watch that shower of shite.
An absolute piss-take from start to finish. I am very angry.
Mata has 19 goals and 26 assists in 50+ games this season. Great player.
Would it bollocks. We’ve been shit all season, barring the odd exception.
Didn’t bother watching, no on could be arsed and can’t blame them. I would only have been interested if Fergie had started some of the young lads like Powell. You’d think the likes of Cleverley and Ando might have made an effort to impress but I can’t blame Giggs for playing in 3rd gear — he hasn’t kept going at this age by running himself into the ground in a completely pointless game. I’ve no sympathy for clubs battling relegation and CL spots — they’ve had 35 games to sort themselves out, don’t go blaming united for your failures.
Didn’t Fergie promise us we would break the record points total? We might not even get 90.
first time i feel a bit sorry for hernandez
i can only assume taggart never leaves valencia out the lineup because ed never leaves him out either
Fuck Mata… we got Young.
If the title had yet to be decided the performance and intensity in both matches would have been completely different.
Would it bollocks. We’ve been shit all season, barring the odd exception.
Of course it would. The team sheet would have been completely different for a start.
And I couldn’t care less how many points we end up with. WE’VE WON THE LEAGUE.
We’ve been shit irrespective of personnel ffs.
shit and still winning
Oh, so we won today?
Barely winning at times.
We have played abysmally at home particularly against the riff raff sides. We were very very lucky to beat Southampton at home, for example. We played a strong side in that game and were still shit.
Let’s face it, other than our immediate competitors, it’s been a shit league. We’ve been the most efficient in terms of getting results but many of our performances have been shocking.
Wow, that is funny
No, it’s meant to be sadly ironic.
This “then the team sheet would have been different”: don’t buy it — maybe we’ve been looking at it all wrong: day before the game Fergie throws a few darts and, well dart in double 10 or 20, he’ll play van Persie.
Should not have played Anderson, Valencia and Cleverly.
Should have started Rooney up front with Van Persie, Powell and Kagawa. Did not need to use a right winger, use Rafael as attacking fullback/winger. Could have also started Rooney and Hernandez up front and gave Van Persie a rest.
Alot of it has ro do with the media as wel I think. Sky , Match of the day etc. Savage, Lawrenson, Hanson, Sherer, Redknapp etc
They sort of enforce this idea that we are this invincible , irrepressible force who cut through defences like knife through butter. Strangling teams into admission with effortless mesmerizing football. The way they talk sometimes its like they’re awestruck . Players , manager, I think actually start to believe that if it’s said often enough.
When were hopelessly shite , its down to Utd simply having “an off day”. Alot of that has to do with Pundits wanting to keep they’re cosy jobs and not rock the boat and upset Fergie as well though. Same with alot of fans.
Its only really in Europe that the full scope of our ineffectiveness becomes fully apparent and even then, criticism is kept to a minimum if at all.
The Leauge is really about beating the smaller teams consistently. You can win it without even actually having to beat any of the better teams at all.
For once id love one of these pundits to just have the balls to say that .
We’re a steady workmanlike , boring team at best carrying a fair few average, workmanlike players with little creativity and flair and no chance of winning a champions Leauge . And , on the whole winning the premier Leauge is no great shakes in the larger scheme of things.
Id love someone in the media just to say that. Never gonna happen.
I like your analysis. No team becomes a dynasty without being self-critical. Hype is really damaging us long-term.
Alfonso Bedoya @ 4:33: “Ferguson keeps picking Valencia for his one dimensional, kick, chase, cross bollocks… and the cunt isn’t even any good at it… none of his fuckin crosses find anyone.”
I completely agree with this – and similar things that were said by others. Today, AV7 was worse than Anderson – by a long shot – and even worse than the usual shit served up that AshleyBloodyYoung imposter of a UTD winger.
AND it’s not like this was the first time TonyV has been so atrocious – it’s just that today there was nothing (absolutely nothing) that he did which was of any value to the team’s chance to win.
But mata cost twenty-odd mill alf. No value in the market.
So did Jones pull any funny faces as the ball deflected in off him?
we are man united, we do what we want
You don’t think that we should have paid a few million extra for someone who can actually kick a football?
Fucking hell, the apologists are out in force on Red Cafe.
If rooney had put as much energy into chasing they’re attack as he did in chasing the ref to complain he may have helped defend that goal. He was shit today, as was valencia.
Ferguson should practice what he preaches. How many times has he complained about opposition teams “upping” their game against United but not doing so against our rivals.I personally don’t give a fuck whether we had won the league by 50 points or on goal difference, what I want to see is United fuck up one of our rivals and making life miserable for that Spanish turd. The other aspect, of course, is that no consideration is given to the fans. There is no excuse,at this point in the season, of not putting out the strongest team possible. Instead we have a performance that lacked any guile, entertainment or excitement. I expect there are no refunds for such a turgid display!
Good point Steggo. Yesterday’s performance, team selection and attitude cheated the fans. Title won or not, it bordered on unprofessional.
“Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don’t need badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabrón and ching’ tu madre! Come out from that shit-hole of yours. I have to speak to you.”
It was also a completely wasted opportunity.
There were a few daft selections in my opinion… but the one that bothered me most, was Anderson.
If you’re going to give fringe players a game, why pick a useless lump like Anderson, who’s had every chance to prove his worth/intent/desire, and blown it… when you could have picked a hungry young player like Powell, who’s shown some genuine class and ability, and would give you his best to show what he’s got?
You saying Anderson’s not hungry Alf? He looks hungry to me. Too hungry 🙂
That result could come back to bite us in the arse in the summer when Chelsea and ourselves are competing for signings. Chelsea can at least offer transfer targets Champions League football next season and not just more money. What really annoys me about following United is the endless stream of apologist excuses we hear from fans, players and manager when things don’t go our way. If someone says something to the contrary, they’re criticised as ‘spoilt’.
Nobody is claiming we have a divine right to win football matches. Winning matches and playing well derive from having the requisite quality of players along with good old-fashioned application. Chelsea were bad but we were even worse. We couldn’t even manage simple things like passing the ball to a team-mate or crossing the ball to a team-mate.
We’re used to setting high standards and we should always look to maintain or improve on them, not just sit on our laurels. There was a time when we didn’t just content ourselves with ‘getting by’. Watching United is such a joyless experience and, yet, to some people this doesn’t matter.
Sick and tired.
You can say that again Ed…
Fergie said today we did not play well because he played players that had not played any football for sometime. So why play players that have not played for awhile against a team like Chelsea. Really stupid. Fergie is a good manager but also makes alot of stupid mistakes. Anderson and Cleverly would be in no kind of form and it showed. Vidic looked shakey also.
LOL well played Alf!
Please just fuck off