Manchester United 3 – 1 Chelsea


 

I I’d opted for a quiet weekend this time around. No getting out to chill out in the weekend after a long week at work.. jus sit back in the room, laze, order in some good food, listen to music, watch some football and get plenty of sleep. Well, I couldn’t have imagined that the weekend would turn out this good!

It was as if the London mauling of Kenny’s troops wasn’t enough, the standard of football played by Spurs took it right back to last season whilst Spurs played some blazing eye candy football.. yes.. more sumptuous than Arsenal. The buildup to this fixture was anxious.. especially since even the reputation tarnished Torres had a good going when it comes to United.

Rio did not get cleared for the game, and had to satisfy himself to watching some breathtaking end to end football from the stands with his son.

United started pretty and were off the blocks early when a marginally offside Chris Smalling nicked a goal off a trademark Young cross.  Moments later Chelsea was at the other end with Torres dragging the ball wide of the far post.

David De Gea was no doubt the busiest of both the keepers the first 45, but the irony was how chelsea kept squandering umpteen piece of cake opportunities.

A darting run from Nani to the edge of the box with 3 defenders standing him off, the outcome was a ferocious right footed swerving bullet into the far top corner of Cech’s goal. The ball was past Cech before even he could move his feet towards the direction of the ball. This goal was of such high quality that it surpassed Modric’s earlier curling scorcher from a similar distance.

Phil Jones has made a reputation for his darting runs into the box.. and he led to all the Blues confusion with a fortuitous deflection off Nani falling kind for Rooney’s 9th goal – a tap in.

At HT, Chelsea was in tatters, and it was time for Boas to show what he is made of. Anelka swapped in for Lamps, and it took him only 30s to unleash Torres to form, who with a cheeky flick over De Gea brought life immediately into the game 3-1.

The number of misses that followed in the next 45 min does no justice to the scoreline. End to end football with some ridiculuous misses – Nani rapping the cross bar, Rooney missing a penalty after losing his footing, Rooney hitting the upright, Torres MISSING AFTER BEATING DE GEA. The ugly side of the ugly faced Ashley Cole digging his foot late into Hernandez was the only downside of an evenly matched game.. even in the column of missed chances.

The scoreline does no justice to the treat delivered, the exhilaration after a monsterous strike from Nani, or the jaw dropping miss of an open goal by Torres.. but that is why we love this game.. Cheers!

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‘Tis April – The Business end of the Premier League – CHELSEA (1)


Usually when we reach the fag end of a season, the Top 4 that is always at the tip of our tongues – Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool (Man City). Well this was not the season where the top 4 were at their supreme best. Stumbles have decided the pecking order, rather than remarkable team form.

The defending champs, Chelsea, started the season with a lot of promise; only to wither mid season due to internal issues and questionable player performances.

Manchester United were driven forward more with the grit and determination of SAF and his troops without ever reaching their peak. Untimely injuries, off the pace legends and lack of quality replacements in the centre of the park have kept them subdued.

Arsene’s Arsenal are a side that is ever improving, but their innate qualities of losing ground when least expected, and the manager’s stubbornness to deviate even 1o from his principles has seen them also staring down another RUNNERS UP season.

2 managers, 2 different outcomes, Liverpool, has shown a lot of fight to rise from the dead after almost battling relegation mid season.

The noisy neighbours, Manchester City, ably lead by Mancini [I say ably, cause he no doubt has the toughest managerial job], are on course to achieve their top4 goal. What happens next, we shall soon see.

Let’s start off with defending champs, Chelsea

Rewind..

  • First 5 games: Beats West Brom and Wigan 6-0 and trumps Blackpool 4-0 – The champs get off to a flyer
  • 8/8: Loses first silverware [Community Shield 1-3 Manchester United]
  • 9/22: Knocked out of Carling Cup [3-4 Newcastle United]
  • 11/11: Departure of Assistant Coach Ray Wilkins marked the downcurve of the Blues progress in the league.
  • Barren run: 11/7 to 12/27 – Chelsea’s form read P 8 W 0 D 4 L 4  – saw them drop out of pole position.
  • January: Roman gets into the act. 2 massive signings – David Luiz £21.3mand Fernando Torres£50m
  • 2/19: Loses to Everton in FA Cup 1-1 [penalties]
  • Feb/Mar: P 6 W 4 D 1 L 1. Resurgence. Ancelotti and Luiz bag the Barclay awards.

Carlo's second this season and Luiz' first.

Road ahead..


Team News

  • 8 games in the month of April, with 3 in the first ten days, a fit squad will be key considering Chelsea have only European glory to chase and having to win all games in the league to exert any pressure on the top 2.
  • Yossi Benayoun‘s return to footballing action last week [20 min, Israel] means he is one more weapon for Chelsea to wield and none other than Torres will be looking forward more.

Round 1

(A) Brittannia Stadium: Following Manchester United’s early kick off at Upton Park, the Blues will battle it out against the Potters (1930 IST ESPN). Any point taken there will be a struggle and well worth it.  I go for a 1-2 with Torres to score the winner. [I see Torres returning to his old self this month – the scene is set for him.]

Next post will be on table toppers and the very likely title winners  – MUFC.

Chelsea Vs Manchester United Preview Mar 1


Kick off: March 2, 2011 0115 IST at Stamford Bridge, Live on ESPN
Match Referee: Martin Atkinson

Games played Won Drawn Lost Goal Difference Points
Manchester United 27 17 9 1 36 60
Arsenal 27 17 5 5 30 56
Manchester City 28 14 8 6 19 50
Tottenham Hotspur 27 13 8 6 7 47
Chelsea 26 13 6 7 24 45

 

When I had written a preview to this fixture which was scheduled to occur two months ago, United were in the ascendancy, while Chelsea in the beginning of a slump. When the fixture was controversially postponed, it was thought, it boded well for the Champions, and that come March, we would have a title deciding battle. Oh how things have changed in 8 weeks!

Bring it on!

The limelight to the buildup of this game has been stolen by Rooney’s elbow and Cole’s shooting extravaganza. While United fans argue Rooney’s act is getting unwarranted attention from the media, Anti United fans are of the opinion, Rooney always gets let off! Either way, IMO, it was a cynical act no matter what the reason and with the FA’s reputation for inconsistency accompanied by Clattenburg’s view of the incident, meant there was no way Rooney would get into any trouble. As for Cole, well God only knows what the hell he was doing with a rifle at work!

Cricket may be the sport of gentlemen, but in football, we somehow tend to look at only the footballer in the person and hence we move on to another exciting fixture.

Recent form

Manchester United: WWLWW
Chelsea: WWWLD

  • Trailing 15 points behind United, every fixture ahead is crucial for Chelsea to achieve a Champions League spot.

Head to Head

  • Chelsea has never been kind to United at home, well they used to hold an impeccable home record until this season where they have already seen 2 defeats in the league. [Sunderland 0-3, Liverpool 0-1]
  • United have a dismal scoring record and have failed to win a game in the last 9 visits. [last win in 2002]

statistically relevant, formwise.. doubt it

Heroes|Zeroes

  • Didier Drogba has been disappointing ever since he lost out to a bout of malaria. The arrival of Torres has not helped his mood much either. With Nico and Torres getting to enjoy each other’s company on the pitch, Drogs’ has to do the the 15 min fill up|super sub striker role henceforth.
  • Fernando Torres has a fantastic track record having scored 4 times in the last 3 meetings. He might be in an odd form right now in a new outfit, but he manages to bring out the best in him in the big fixtures. Watch out.
  • Vidic has to be spoken in the same wavelength as Torres. Keeping him quiet will be premier priority for the Captain and he needs to be at his best.
  • Nani – Cole will be a battle to watch. The Portugese is doing everything right this season and has been pivotal to United’s pole position, expect a show.
  • Wayne Rooney – has scored one out of the world goal already this season, add that to the elbow and we have an extreme package available; will have to wait and see which Wazza turns up.

watch out for Nani!

Injuries

Manchester United: Twitter pro Rio Ferdy continues to enjoy tweeting on the sidelines [calf] while slowly but steadily Chris Smalling takes over his slot with some standout performances. Valencia has returned to first team training, while Park [hamstring], Anderson [knee] and Evans – unavailable.

Chelsea: Fitness isn’t Carlo’s worry, form is, and having had a relieving performance in Europe, the blues will look to regain control.

Squads and Prediction

Manchester United: Van der Sar, Evra, Vidic, Smalling, Rafael, Giggs, Scholes, Carrick, Fletcher, Nani, Rooney

Chelsea: Cech, Cole, Terry, Luiz, Ivanovic, Malouda, Essien, Lampard, Anelka, Kalou, Torres

I go for a scored draw 11

The month of January and all of its Glory


I look forward to January as I get myself the luxury of a wildcard to revamp my struggling fantasy team. While I sit at my desk, rack my head and ring in the changes, weeks – months of planning and strategic transfer bids are made in the Barclays Premier League as teams try to get themselves out of a hole, players get loaned out for play time, some try to do something which could potentially make or break their career while others try to pull of the wonderful last minute deals.

Ever since the introduction of the mid season transfer window in 2003, teams were initially circumspect on the spending and reluctant to tweak their sides, but in recent years we have seen the window getting blown off with some huge transfer currency.

This January a total of £223.47M has been burnt up on permanent deals [excluding the add-on deals]; the highest ever in the history with the top 3 chart busters

  1. Fernando Torres – £50m to Chelsea
  2. Andy Caroll – £35m to Liverpool
  3. David Luiz – £21.3m to Chelsea

Last 5 Windows



Chelsea

October marked a completer U turn to the Blues in the title race. They stuttered, stumbled, fell off the perch in the face of some poor form, untimely sacking of Carlo’s staff; lack of depth in the squad exposed when a couple of injuries and suspensions wrecked havoc. Things got so bad that even Carlo’s future ran the business for the tabloids. Reinforcement was due, Roman obliged.

  • David Luiz £21.3m
    • Relatively unknown to many, this young Brazilian started his career as an attacking midfielder, but now finds his zone in central defence, and can play full back too. A wonderful personality on and off the pitch, he had a wonderful 09’-10’ season with Benfica.
    • His hefty buyout clause meant only the big players stood a chance, with Roman beating the Sheikh to him.
    • Verdict: Excellent buy, could be the ideal player to be a part of rebuilding the side.
  • Fernando Torres £50m
    • He needs no introduction. A proven Club record, a natural all round goal scorer, on the back of a World Cup Victory, his injury streak the only real concern. But to judge his goal scoring capability based on liverpool’s last two seasons would be criminal.
    • Considering the availability of service in the squad, Torres and Drogba are forwards any fantasy manager would play day in day out and to see this happen live on the pitch is a dream every Blues fan will realize come this Sunday. [I really hope Carlo wont bench him.]
    • I have no words of adulation for this fellow, on a personal note, I consider him the best forward in the entire Premier League; he deserves to be playing top football and in a way he did speak out his heart.

Liverpool

Yes Rafa screwed them over when he left in the summer with a dodgy squad for Roy Hodgson to handle. The team never really got to terms with the manager of the season and now we have King Kenny creating something that was not there in the first half this season = TEAM CHEMISTRY. John Henry made promises when he took over the mantle at Anfield, that he would put pool back on the map. Well 6 months down, it seemed like whatever little remaining was also disappearing fast. His splashing of the money gained from the Torres Mega bonanza is POSITIVE.

  • Andy Caroll £35m
    • He is a young promising kid, making waves at NUFC, recently wore the England shirt, but does he deserve to be the biggest British transfer ever at £35m.. IMO, NO!
    • As outrageous as his eventual price was, his claims of not being wanted being refuted by Alan Pardew, is a load of bollocks– after all he is the one who handed in the transfer request.
    • To be wearing the number 9 shirt, to be filling in or rather continue where Torres left won’t be too hard, since Torres has been terrible this season while Caroll is having his best!
  • Luis Suarez £22.7m
    • The cannibal, the cheat, call him what you may, atleast now we get to see some hands on action right here in the Barclays.
    • In the wake of Babel’s exit, the Uruguayan probably was in the scheme of things to pair with Torres, but Kenny has gotta get the Andy – Lou partnership going instead.
    • With Caroll still a few weeks away, we will get a good show of him in the coming weeks.

Manchester City

When you already have a squad worth over £300m, you wonder if there is any more toys left in the shop to buy. The Arab has a lot of expensive toys and he has added one more to it.

  • Edin Dzeko £27m
    • Tevez has been doing a lot of work, captaining the side, scoring all the goals, assisting, inspiring, cribbing about home, threatening to quit, so he could use some help.
    • Dzeko has been already impressive with the couple of games he played, adds spine to a team that is looking to make a mark this season.

Manchester United made the Andres Lindegaard signing official £3.5m, while Arsenal did nothing and yet is cribbing about others who did!

Here is a summary of the permanent signings.