PREVIEW: Chelsea v Manchester United

So here we go!. Today's the day, its officially the season opener. All eyes will be on Carlo Ancelotti and Sir Alex Ferguson as they ...

So here we go!. Today's the day, its officially the season opener. All eyes will be on Carlo Ancelotti and Sir Alex Ferguson as they lead their sides out on the pitch to get one over the other and to put a marker down for the season ahead. Carlo has named his side for todays game and I have to say we look stronger than United, but as all of us Chelsea fans know, fitness will play a big part of todays game on the massive Wembley pitch!.

The games are never fantastic, never really a spectacle and more often than not are settled by a single goal or as last season, penalties. So don't expect too much from both sides today. Both team's will not want to lose and so expect the game to be very cagey.

Taking a look at the Chelsea side today I have to say we look strong. The only weakness we have is the Goalkeeping position. The sooner that Cech is back from injury the better as both Hilario and Turnbull have looked edgey in the games they have played so far in pre-season.

Aug. 01, 2010 - Frankfurt, Hessen - Friendly,..Eintracht Frankfurt vs. FC Chelsea, 01.08.2010..Michael Essien (Chelsea .

The biggest addition to our starting line up today and also for our season in my view is the return of Essien. I know we won the double last season but imagine what could have been if we also had Essien fit and in our midfield. We have to keep him fit this season. He is so strong and powerful and when he isn't in our midfield we lack his physical presence.

Today will be interesting as it looks as though Ancelotti plans to deploy Essien further forward with the likes of Mikel and hopefully Ramires behind him. Essien can be just as impressive going forward as he can be playing deeper in midfield.

Essien is the reason why the loss of Ballack from our midfield isn't a concern as he slots straight into his position and let's face it, he would have been starting and not Ballack last season.

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So next to Mikel and Lampard our midfield trio look very strong compared to United's today with rumours of United sticking with a 4-4-2 formation with two wingers and Scholes and Gibson/Fletcher in midfield. Its important that we get hold of the ball and maintain possession and use the extra man we have in the middle. If we can get Mikel, Lampard and Essien on the ball then Gibson/Fletcher especially will need to maintain his discipline next to Scholes because if they don't Chelsea could have it all our own way today.

Its a shame Drogba is on the bench today, but we can't really complain after only have a op on a hernia less than two weeks ago. Nicolas Anelka will lead the line in his absence and will provide United new-boy Smalling with his biggest test and it depends on who picks him up to mark him today that could be another key focus for Chelsea. If Smalling is the man to pick up Anelka then he could get caught out of position tracking Anelka's runs which could leave Vidic isolated.

United will have to deal with Malouda and Kalou's movement today too and Chelsea will look to get the ball wide to these two so we can create chances for Anelka, for each other and for Lampard's late runs into the box.

Lampard has hit goals in each of his last games for Chelsea which is a good sign especially as he is still battling to regain fitness. This is what I mean about Scholes and Gibson/Fletcher today. One of these will need to pick him up and track back but I don't see Scholes as being that man for United today so Gibson/Fletcher will have an important role to play.

The dangers for Chelsea are there to see but United will always pose a threat to anyone they play. United will look get the ball wide today to the likes of Valencia, Nani or the impressive Park to get at our fullbacks and to provide crosses for Berbatov, Rooney or Owen up front who in turn will look to test Hilario in goal.

There is no doubt that Rooney like the Chelsea boys who played for England will feel as though he has something to prove and will be up and at it from the off this season. Owen plagued by injuries will also feel the same but for me its about Berbatov this season.

Dimitar Berbatov Manchester United 2009/10 Manchester United V Chelsea (1-2) 03/04/10 The Premier League Photo Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

He seriously can't be any worse for United after last season and there is a section of their own fans who had given him a hard time. If he gets firing next to Rooney then they are the biggest threat to our defence this season.

For now though, its the opener. Don't expect a great game like I have said before, expect a 1-0 or a penalty shoot out today. Ideally it would be nice to go a couple of goals up and bring some youngsters on.

Right now I will take a good performance and any kind of win so we can give the players a boost for the new season and the fans another chance to get one over United!.

Prediction, 1-0 Lampard.


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