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Chelsea V Manchester United - Preview

So here we are, after weeks and weeks of nothing, just rumours, speculation and pre season games, today is the official curtain raiser to...

So here we are, after weeks and weeks of nothing, just rumours, speculation and pre season games, today is the official curtain raiser to the new Premier League season. Now some people will say "Its a nothing game!" or "Its just a showpiece!" and to a point they are right. But to Carlo Ancelotti and the Chelsea boys its a chance to get their hands on their second trophy together following the trophy they won in the states.

Also for Ancelotti its a chance for him to experience the superb new stadium at Wembley and what better way than to follow in Guus and Jose's footsteps and lift a trophy at the new Wembley.

Today is arguably the first really competitive game in pre season and both sides will not want to lose. I expect both sides to play their strongest 11 today to start with and it will be very interesting to see the 11 that Ancelotti starts and wonder will it be the same next Saturday against Hull at the Bridge to open the Premier League season.

Let's have a look at the oppo for a change first and United will be strong as they always are. Now I for one think that you cannot under estimate how much of a loss that Cristiano Ronaldo is for them. Ok, it was a massive offer and the boy wanted to leave but to take someone with his goal scoring record away from their ranks poses Fergie a problem. He looks to identified the goals he has lost with Ronaldo leaving and has brought Michael Owen to the club.

I think you will all agree with me when I say this could be a masterstroke, bargain of the season or can be one gamble that just simply doesn't pay off. I expect Owen to start today and he will want to impress after being left out of the England squad for the ridiculous mid-week friendly we have BEFORE the season starts. Valencia looks like he will start today on the wing and for me he is a hell of a long way off Ronaldo so I can't see him posing Ashley Cole a threat at all.

Uniteds midfield will be strong as ever and will look to get hold of possession and slow the game down. I think Rooney will start wide left and Berbatov and Owen will be up front. Their defensive five have been weakened for today as Van Der Sar is out for a couple of months and Vidic is missing for a couple of weeks. So Foster and Evans will come in for those two. This is where the key will be to winning the game today!

Now for the blue boys! Carlo Ancelotti has made no secret in the way he wants to play this season with the 4-diamond-2 formation and for me this will work well as judging by our pre season (apart from the crap at Reading) we looked to get on the ball and zip it about the pitch quickly into feet. We looked sharp and fit and played really well.

Our back five would of been more or less set in stone but since the real emergence of Alex next to John Terry last season and rumours that Ancelotti likes his defenders to defend first, I can't decide whether Alex will start or Carvalho but it looks as though Ivanovic may have the start today ahead of Bosingwa!.

The midfield diamond is where it will also become interesting. For a start Zhirkov is out injured and Ballack is back (but I don't expect him to start) so it leaves the other 5 that can play in the diamond fighting it out for the 4 positions. I believe that Mikel will start at the foot of the diamond just in front of the back four. Essien and Lampard will play either side of the diamond with Deco at the head of diamond just behind Drogba and Anelka with Malouda starting on the bench.

Mikel will be as composed as ever, as it looks like he has got that wild streak out of his game. Essien and Lampard will operate narrow each side and will look to get on the ball. Deco will be the free spirit and I have to say he has played really really well in pre season. I am the first to say that I haven't been impressed with what he has been saying earlier in pre season about the club and last season.

He started off like a train last season, got his injury and then struggled to make any sort of impact. But, we know Ancelotti likes a Pirlo type playmaker and is Deco and his pre season form the reason why we have backed off the pursuit of Pirlo? Let's hope he carries on his pre season form today.

I just feel personally and I know I am biased Chelsea fan, but we have such strength in depth at the club and the best midfield in the league. If you think of the players I have mentioned in contention in midfield today and this is without the likes of Ballack, Joe Cole and you can also argue Belletti who seems to have a midfield role these days rather than being seen as a fullback these days. I can't see anyone as strong as us, can you?

This is where the game will be 50% won today as I feel our boys are superior to United. The other 50% is our two boys up front Drogba and Anelka. For ages we have all said at some stage play them both up front together and they have both gone on record previously saying the same thing. We don't mean to change the formation and put em up top with 10 mins left in game etc, we mean from the off.

Today they will get their chance and with Foster and Evans in the back five for United I can see Drogba (buzzing from a new deal) causing Evans all sorts of problems and Anelka playing with confidence off the back of a great season last year and feeling well and truly Chelsea now!.

I hope its a good game and we play well. Like I have said neither side wants to lose this one and I have to say I can't see us losing this!. (He says!) My prediction is 2-0 Chelsea (Drogba/Anelka)

Come on the Chels!

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