Sunday, 25 August 2013

Manchester United vs Chelsea Preview

It is only the second week into the Premier League season and frustratingly there is no Manchester United game this weekend.  Curse the fixture computer.  Monday night will be David Moyes first match at Old Trafford and it will be the first time in twenty seven years that Sir Alex is not leading the team out.  It also sees the return of a never forgotten foe in Jose Mourinho.

Coming into the game, Chelsea have played an extra league game.  They have had 2 wins out of 2 but haven't looked too impressive.  They were pretty dull in their first league match vs Hull.  They were also helped massively by the referee mid-week vs Aston Villa.  Juan Mata, who is currently coming back from an injury played over an hour vs Villa.  Reading their forum, it seems he was a bit off the pace. It is quite soon after the Villa game but Mata has done very well vs Manchester United in previous meetings.  Have always really liked Mata, he is a top player and has taken his game up a level at Chelsea.  There seems to be a little bit of an uncertainty regarding his future.  Some rumours suggest that Chelsea would be willing to use him in an exchange for Wayne Rooney.  It seems madness that Chelsea would be willing to sell their best player.  The only thing is perhaps, he isn't a "Mourinho type player".  As his teams have shown in the past he likes pace and directness in that position.  Slight question marks over David Luiz who needs to pass a late fitness test before he is considered.  Think Chelsea have a very talented squad and manager, the Mourinho factor has certainly added to my thinking, that they are favourites for the title.  They have their weaknesses, like all teams do and there is still time for them to address them.  Rooney's on their radar and would improve any team.  A change for him could see him return to his very best and that is a scarily good player.  Feel there is a better chance of it happening at elsewhere and staying at United he will continue to stagnate and end up being a big problem.  It is a tricky situation for United indeed.       


Though United took their time to get going, they impressed last week vs Swansea.  Much of the slow start was due to soaking up the pressure and containing Swansea.  You knew, going into the game that they like to keep the ball and that they are a tough team to beat at home.  United were always in control and despite Swansea's possession they created very little.  Though, it would be unwise to give Chelsea as much freedom.  What stood out most for United was the quality of the finishing.  Welbeck's second was fantastic technique, brilliant pulling off a chip so close to the keeper.  Van Persie's weren't bad either, particularly his second. Fantastic that both have made bright starts, particularly Welbeck.  Going to be a big year for him and he is looking very good, that he has already doubled last seasons goal tally in one game in will certainly be a big confidence boost.   As mentioned, Chelsea have not looked too great.  However, that means little- they always do well vs United and get up for the big games (much like their manager).  They haven't any real injury issues and will be buoyed by last season, in which they succeeded in getting the better of United in the vast majority of the games that the sides came up against one another.  Early doors though it is, they will be aware of the tricky run of fixtures United have.  They will therefore look at this game as a great opportunity to gain distance from last seasons champions.


For United a big miss will be Rafael, who is out with a hamstring injury.  Reports suggest that it could be as long as six weeks.  Jones and Smalling have both played there in the past but neither are natural in that role.  Jones is probably better, as Smalling's distribution and decision making there are poor.  Jones has a decent cross on him and a bit more pace than Smalling.  I would rather see Fabio starting ahead of either of those two, though I don't see it happening.  Width is going to be important and Fabio most of all, will be able to provide that and support Valencia.  Other injury doubts are Young, Nani and Hernandez.  Evans won't start, having played 90 mins for the U21's in his own quest to full fitness after a pre-season injury.  The big question for United fans is whether or not Wayne Rooney will start.  He did well vs Swansea and created 2 goals.  However, he was a little on the periphery and it looked like teammates were reluctant to pass to him.  His attitude was way off too.  With it being Chelsea, his favoured destination wonder what kind of effect that would have on his performance.  A weeks more training means that he'll be fitter and sharper.  Would prefer him not to start, particularly if it means he takes Welbeck's place.  Though there is room for all three.  It could backfire if he plays.  Kagawa's season is yet to get going and the same with Hernandez.  Not much news of Hernandez fitness has been disclosed, physio room lists him being out with a hamstring injury.  It would be a massive boost to see him on the bench.  He has a brilliant scoring record vs Chelsea.  Another who usually does well against them is Ryan Giggs, but prefer others over him as he gives the ball away a-lot and would be better used as an impact sub. Chelsea are a pretty energetic and athletic side too.  Feel that United are in good shape for this match, the team looks fit and sharp.  Moyes double training sessions must be doing their work!  Fancy Van Persie's chances against their defence and Valencia up against Ashley Cole.  Cole is no doubt one of the best around but the Ecuadorian has had outstanding games against him in seasons gone by. Chelsea really do have United's number and are something of a bogey team.  Though they need a goalscorer upfront, their attack is full of flair and quality which will put both United's defence and midfield under a great deal of pressure.  Hazard, Oscar and the already mentioned Mata stand out most.  They have a-lot in their youth ranks too, (yet another talented Belgian) De Bruyne is very highly rated.  Believe Lukaku will start and he is a right handful of a player, there is no mistaking comparisons of him to  Drogba.  I'd feel slightly better if Mata didn't start; even if he isn't 100% he'll still provide a threat, not forgetting his set pieces too.   Think that this match will be a big test for United, especially so early in the season.

Jose Mourinho relishes games such as this and he'll get his players well motivated.  It is one of his biggest strengths as a manager, his players get so fired up for to four clashes, finals and all the big games in-between.  Tactically astute, he'll look to play on United's weaknesses.  Memories of playing United will be fresh, as his Real side met United in the Champions League.  Chelsea have a great deal of youth and energy and succeed in playing a pressing game.  As has been seen in the past, this United team can sometimes struggle under pressure.  Though, a stepping up of Michael Carrick means they are less vulnerable than they were before.  The force of Mourinho's personality and affection the English media has for him; I hope will take some of the attention/pressure away from David Moyes.  Moyes will be keen to build on United's strong start and to also seal his first match at Old Trafford with a win.  Am a bit on the fence with regards to the outcome of the game, plenty of reasons to be optimistic about United but know what Chelsea are capable.  A bit of a  negative is the appointment of Martin Atkinson as referee.  He has been involved in a couple of memorable controversial calls in fixture between the two sides.  Hopefully he doesn't make any judgements that spoil the game, as United vs Chelsea is almost always entertaining.  A fair and a good game is what's hoped.  Below is the team I am hoping to see on Monday and a bit of a guess to who will play for Chelsea.

Was tricky picking a Chelsea team and feel it is too attack orientated.   Questioning whether Torres will start and reckon he probably will, though I have put Lukaku.  Luiz can play DM role and did a good number of times last season and wonder if he'd be an option there, providing he is fit.  Know Mourinho likes to play with 2 defensive midfielders and will probably overload the midfield as that is where United is weakest.  Van Ginkel is young and a great prospect, he's only made sub appearances so far so don't think he'll start.  He really impressed on pre-season from what I've heard from Chelsea fans.  Another highly rated player I didn't add in was De Bruyne.  Lampard may also miss out in order to play against Bayern Munich.  As for United, the team pretty much picks itself particularly with most of the wingers being out injured.  Phil Jones featuring at RB or in a midfield role is a possibility.  Unfortunate that Anderson is left out as he had a better pre-season than Cleverley, against Swansea Cleverley didn't have his best game.  Three most important and nailed on starters for me, are Van Persie, Vidic and Welbeck.  Welbeck is in great form and his outstanding work rate is a big asset.