How To Beat In-Form Manchester United
This matches this weekend will be very telling of how the Premier League will finish this seaso...
This matches this weekend will be very telling of how the Premier League will finish this season. Chelsea face Manchester United at Stamford Bridge, with three vital points on the line for both sides. United need the win to secure a Champions League place, along with making a last ditch title effort. The Blues however are just 4 wins away from the title, and a victory would put them just 9 points away from the Premier League Crown.
Manchester United enter the game in solid form. They have been finding ways to win, especially with a squad that in my opinion still needs work. As much as I hate to admit, Louis Van Gaal has been doing an exceptional job at getting the most out of players that are not world class. This is a skill that Sir Alex himself was known for. Squad players like Ashley Young, Antonio Valencia, Marouane Fellaini, and Michael Carrick are playing far above their actual potential.
However, the run of good form should end at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea are on a quest for their first title since 2009-2010. A Mourinho side does not typically surrender a lead that only sees them needing 12 points out of a possible 21 to clinch. That being said, beating this United side will take some doing.
First and foremost, Chelsea must keep possession. In the last few games they have been surrendering too much possession to opponents, and against a good team like United, they'll be punished for doing so. The Red Devils have been most effective playing crosses into the box and watching 6' 4" Fellani attack them in the air. With little possession, most of United's attacking threat should be neutralized.
Chelsea should take a wide approach offensively during this match, targeting the Red Devil's full backs. The idea behind this strategy is simple, they're not actually full backs. Daley Blind is a center midfielder and Valencia is a winger. Assuming Van Gaal doesn't change a winning formula, both of these players will start this weekend. While playing midfielders at full back allows United to attack in numbers, their defensive capabilities are severely weakened.
Chelsea wingers like Hazard and Willian should look to go at these players in one-on-one situations. This penetration should allow them to get into the box or to the end line for a good cross, similar to how Hazard set up Fabregas's winner this past weekend. If the Blues can get a few good crosses, they should be able to nick a goal or two in that area.
Finally, the West Londoners must stop Wayne Rooney. A man who Jose Mourinho coveted quite publicly 2 summers ago is the player who can do the most damage against Chelsea's back line. The Englishman is known for his incredible work ethic, making runs in behind players and putting pressure on center backs. However, I believe fellow countrymen John Terry and Gary Cahill should be able to neutralize Rooney.
Overall, the weekend match at Stamford Bridge should be a spectacle to say the least. Both teams need the points, and both enter the game in winning form. However, when the dust has settled in West London, I firmly believe it will be Mourinho's men who have captured all three points.
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