Manchester United quite simply don’t have the resources to match Chelsea – don’t get me wrong, the first-11 is strong enough (albeit a bit in midfield), but there’s no quality on the bench. Chelsea have Makelele, Essien, Lampard, Ballack to call upon – and that’s just central midfield. United have Carrick, Scholes, Darren Fletcher and John O’Shea – not exactly the sort of players you’d want to bet your money on. In defence United are suitably covered, but there’s no quality on the bench for attack or midfield. If United want to win this game, they’ll have to attack and hope to win early. Chelsea are more capable of winning this game late, which will give them an advantage going into today’s match.
Jose Mourinho has a well-drilled and tactically astute side at his disposal. Discipline is not enough – his team has a never-say-die attitude that can only be admired, and when Chelsea are losing a game they go full-throttle and make sure they give their best shot to win back the game. Every player knows his role, and his good at it. United are better than the rest, but you get the feeling that they’re not as well disciplined as Chelsea, although they keep fighting as well. Part of this has to do with having the right players at your disposal (United have no defensive midfielder), but part of it also has to do on the training. Mourinho’s teams are clinical and effective, Ferguson’s teams are attacking and backed up by an over-acheiving defence.
United have a lot to worry about here – Chelsea can just sit back and neutralise United’s attacking threat by throttling the midfield. Granted, United have the wing play to turn things around, but if Chelsea control Carrick, it becomes a whole different game. Chelsea have the talent and the experience to control the midfield, and if they do that today, United will find it very difficult to get anything out of the game.
History plays a role, whether you like it or not. Jose Mourinho has a fantastic record against Ferguson – 5 wins, 2 draws, 1 defeat. Chelsea have a good record at Old Trafford, and overall have done better against United in the Premiership than any other team. They’ve won the last two titles, and are strong enough (squad-wise and quality-wise) to be the only realistic threat to United’s chances. It’s a home game, and the crowd will be behind United, but against Chelsea that doesn’t work – Mourinho’s teams thrive on adversity, and they’ll lap up the boos and use them to motivate themselves.
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