Friday, September 19, 2008

Chelsea-Manchester United Preview:
Make-or-Break Match for United?

Has there been a more important September clash than Sunday's Chelsea-Manchester United match? Not in recent memory if you bleed United red.

United is already six points in arrears of Chelsea, which stands top of the Premier League table with 10 points. Chelsea in in top form and coming off a 4-0 Champions League win at home against Bordeaux, and will have John Terry on the pitch after his red card last weekend against Manchester City was rescinded.

With Chelsea's momentum, a victory over United will give them a nine-point edge over the reigning kings of Europe, it would be difficult to see Chelsea giving back three games to its most dangerous rival. History shows us too that Liverpool will eventually fade and Arsenal will run out of fresh resources once crunch time in March, April and May arrives.

Is it a stretch to say Chelsea wins the league title tomorrow with a win? Well, sure, but maybe not in the long run. Does Chelsea, inspired by the Scolaris, Decos and Bosingwas, as well as Lampard playing on top form, Terry's reinstatement and Didier Drogba's eventual return, even have three losses in them this season?

Injuries and other intangibles aside, the answer just could be 'No'.

Nonetheless, United is likely to make this a game to remember regardless of the outcome. Cristiano Ronaldo, who returned early from an injury to play Wednesday in a 0-0 draw against Villareal, has already said that any Chelsea attempts to reinjure him will be repaid with goals. Despite Ronaldo's return, United still won't have a complete team on the pitch. Dimitar Berbatov is a game-time decision with an injury and Nemanja Vidic will serve a one-game suspension.

Chelsea, meanwhile, has had no trouble scoring goals or winning games. But manager Luiz Filipe Scolari is already playing down the quick start, especially after Chelsea's win Wednesday; a classic tactic.
"Maybe against another team we would have received more punishment because we lost many balls in the middle. It is dangerous for us. But it is important to start with a win because in this compeition, you never know what will happen. You can see that when Cluj beat Roma. That is a warning for us for the next game."


faizal said...

do u think man utd can defend their titles this season?

Starting11 said...

A lot depends on Ronaldo's health and the degree to which he contributes to United's attack--and when.
We see how quickly fortunes can turn for a club. Take Chelsea for example; Deco is done for a few weeks and Carvalho for a few more, both injured on the same day. Injuries can decimate a club, and they're unpredictable.
I think United has a better chance to repeat in the Premier League than it does in the Champions League, but it all depends, it would seem, on how healthy Chelsea remains. I think it's Chelsea's title to lose, in Europe and in England.