Manchester United v Chelsea : THERE IS ONLY ONE PREVIEW!

In just under two hours, without doubt, the biggest game of the Premier League season so far kicks off at Old Trafford and the world will b...

In just under two hours, without doubt, the biggest game of the Premier League season so far kicks off at Old Trafford and the world will be watching. This isn't your normal run of the mill league game, this isn't going to be a dull played out affair and this isn't going to be one of those one sided games you get at times. This is Manchester United v Chelsea, this is more or less for the title. This is as big as it gets!.

Now some of you maybe surprised here but I am going to try and be as non-biased as a Chelsea fan can be writing about this one as being honest this game really is too close to call.

So why are we here now?. I guess it's a number of reasons really and you could say partly because of our fantastic run we have been on since United (deservedly) knocked us out of the Champions League. United were sitting pretty at the top of the table, looking comfortable and cruising as Chelsea looked away in the distance. Chelsea have fought back with a run in the league of 25 points from a possible 27 and that's why we are here.

United slipped up last week for one reason or another and Chelsea now have a chance to win today and sit top of the table albeit on goal difference alone. Sir Alex spoke of our chances now and Patrice Evra has spoken of the possibility of losing after the poor performance last week. The pressure is on this afternoon and despite the quality on show, despite form it could all come down to who copes with the pressure.

The pressure isn't just on the players this afternoon as Howard Webb has been appointed as the Referee for this one that has some Chelsea fans worried with his record at Old Trafford. Sir Alex and Carlo have both taken time to praise the manager but I think it's more important now than ever for the Referee to have a good game and not make any mistakes.

Chelsea have rode their luck as United will constantly remind us but over the course of a season, United have had theirs. The thing is, all of us would prefer to win a game fair and square without controversy but when it comes to games such as this and considering what's at stake, a win is a win no matter how you get it. BOTH SIDES would bite your hand off right now for a win.

Carlo spoke this week of Chelsea maintaining their form and playing at their best to have a chance to win the game and he is right. We cannot afford to carry anyone who isn't playing well or not in the game today. He stated that both sides aren't better than the other as we have the same power and I agree. It's so important that we remember what we are up against this afternoon.


Manchester United have been there, seen it and done it when it comes to the business end of the season. They have experience, they have a hunger and desire to succeed season in, season out and that comes from who I believe will go down in history as the best Manager of all time. Think about it, all the success they have had and the hunger is still there. United will be hungry today, they will want to put on a better performance than last week as they know a win today more or less hands them the title.

It's the core of United's side that is strong. Van der Saar, Vidic, Ferdinand, Carrick, Giggs, Rooney and Hernandez will provide the base for the likes of Nani, Valencia and Park to feed off of and build their attacks. They work hard for each other and will look to soak up Chelsea pressure, stand firm and then hit us on the counter attack.

Ferdinand back next to Vidic is massive for them. The form of Rooney and Hernandez has caught the eye as they have struck up and instant understanding of each other and Chelsea need to be aware of the threat they both pose.

Hernandez reminds me so much of a Crespo or a Torres purely with his movement. He always looks to play on the shoulder of the defender, anywhere along the line and will look to get in behind at every opportunity. It's speaks volumes that Berbatov, the leading scorer for United and in the Premier League cannot shift these two at the moment and I do not believe he will again today.

For me, Chelsea stop Wayne Rooney today and we have half the job done. Rooney has found himself the ideal position. I think it's fair to say Sir Alex and possibly England, have struggled to find the balance with Rooney in the side. I don't believe he is a target man, United have tried him there and have shoved him out wide which hasn't really worked. It's the free role, playing slightly deeper and in behind the front man that has brought United fruition. Rooney is a different animal we have to face today. If he is allowed space and time on the ball, he will hurt us.

It will be interesting to see if Fergie will go with two out and out wingers this afternoon or if he will go with Nani and Park. I think for his work rate alone Park will get the nod and Valencia will sit on the bench.

If Chelsea slip up, United will take advantage. However, United have their weaknesses as to which I have pointed out a while back and these remain the same now as they did then. Aaron Ramsey's goal for Arsenal reiterates my point perfectly about being susceptible for the late run in the box.

When being attacked onto the edge of their box or the byline, United's defence drop further back towards their own goal and a gap appears between their defence and midfield. Numerous times sides have had chances to punish United by pulling the ball back to towards the penalty spot or edge of the box from the byline for the midfielder making his run to, unmarked, shoot at goal. Look out for that today, it could be the difference.

United will be no pushover and we need to work hard to beat them. Another thing to remember is that United just need to make sure they don't lose the game. If we draw it's more or less just as bad a result as a defeat for Chelsea.


For Chelsea the focus of this week is the win and nothing else. We have put ourselves (with a little bit of luck) right back in the fight and no matter what happens we need to remember just how far we have come from where we found ourselves two months ago.

The thing is, we do have the momentum and with another full week to prepare, will be fresh and right up for this one without question. Maybe the difference ahead of this one is Chelsea having an edge mentally. United lost last week and as I pointed out earlier, have spoken of what a defeat to Chelsea this afternoon would mean to them. You see, United have been sitting top of the league without pressure and playing their games with the distraction of the FA Cup and Champions League in between league games so have had their focus split. For Chelsea, it's been one goal, one target and that's what has been driving them on in recent weeks to this point today.

They say it's better to be top and for people to be chasing you than to be the one chasing. I really wonder if that will be true as we see the game take shape this afternoon.

The reason for Chelsea's run is simple, it's 4-3-3. Reminiscent of last season, Chelsea struggling to beat sides with a diamond midfield or a 4-4-2 made the decision to switch to the formation that we all know suits us and we won the double, beating United 2-1 at Old Trafford along the way. That afternoon, Chelsea were hungry, knew if they beat United they had put themselves in the box seat and need to be the same today.

There is no decision to be made today, we need to stick with the same team to give ourselves the best chance of winning this one.

Cech, Ivanovic, Luiz, Terry, Cole, Mikel, Essien, Lampard, Kalou, Drogba and Malouda should be the names written on that team sheet. Torres, Ramires, Anelka, Benayoun, Alex, Ferreira the players on the bench.

I wrote earlier in the week that there is two players who are key for Chelsea this afternoon and the first one is David Luiz. As all know he couldn't play against United in the Champions League games and we missed him. He is back today and will make a huge difference to our side. He has come in and made a massive impact on English football. Anyone I have spoken to about him admit just how good he is.

The only concern or worry we have today is one United know all about. He was lucky to have got away with what he did in our last league game against them and Rooney in particular. It's time for David Luiz to stand up and be counted and to not give any silly tackles away. We will be under enough pressure as it is without conceding needless free kicks in and around our box. It's the ability he has to read the game that can keep Rooney and Hernandez quiet today.

The second key player is Didier Drogba. How many times have I said it and how many opposing fans know it. When he is up for it, hungry for the game and for the fight he is literally unplayable. In recent weeks, he has been just that and has led the Chelsea line with his presence, power and goals and has been one of the many making a difference.

We have to remember Drogba had Malaria and played to his credit through it. He said all along that as soon as he gets back feeling 100% fit he will be back to his best and he kept his promise. He has delivered time and time again and all of us are looking for Didier to come up with the performance and the result today.

Ferdinand and Vidic know all about Drogba. They know the person they have to face and will more concerned about him than anybody else. Drogba has the game in his hands today. He needs to grab it, hold onto it and prove to the world just what he still can give to Chelsea. I just hope he does deliver.

Alot will be made of Fernando Torres this afternoon being on the bench (I am writing this not knowing of course) and maybe rightly so because of the £50m fee we paid and seeing just the one goal so far, but it is important to remember the form of Drogba has played a big part in Nando's time here so far and also the formation.

The good thing about this afternoon and our 4-3-3 formation is as United tire towards the latter stages we have Anelka that can come on wide to keep the pace of our attack going and more importantly, we have Torres to come and play in the position he is strongest, through the middle.

Chelsea now like United, have plenty of options to choose from. Being biased I believe we have a stronger bench today and it could be substitutions that make a telling contribution and the difference between the two sides.

No matter how you look at the game and the sides on show, there are match winners all over the pitch, key battles and the potential for a cracking game of football. I know the consequences are huge but I really hope both sides set up to attack the other rather than focus on not losing. This has all the makings of a classic, I really hope it lives up to expectations.

So if United win or draw it's more or less their record breaking 19th title. If Chelsea win then it's a massive result but we have to remember and this is important, the race for the title is not over as there will still be work to do for both sides.

So here we go, not long to go before the game the world will be watching will kick off with the biggest prize in England at stake. Just who will rise to the challenge and deal with pressure?.

For all our sakes, I hope Howard Webb isn't the focus of coverage after the game but, the game of football itself.


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