Ahead of United’s away game against Chelsea, we talked to Ramon Isaac from MowingMeadows about the importance of the upcoming fixture, Eden Hazard, the John Terry saga and much more.
1st vs. 2nd. This has to be classified as a 6 pointer, don’t you think?
It’s still early in the season I think, but this could be the difference at the end. So, yes, I think this is one of those “6 pointers” more so for Manchester United as Chelsea can afford to lose and still be top of the league.
After a fine run of 8 games without a loss since that grand Falcao display in the European Super Cup, could you say that the defeat midweek against Shakhtar Donetsk was a bit of a reality check?
I’m not sure reality check is the best way to put it. I don’t think we’ve been entirely convincing in our wins although we have looked great at times, consistency for the full 90minutes has often been lacking but that’s the making of champions, right?
I might also have been pessimistic going into the game and I wasn’t all too surprised by the result, Shakhtar have built a proverbial fortress at home and our recent away record hasn’t seen much in terms of the win column.
Ever since the beginning of the season and the purchase of a great number of attacking players, Di Matteo seems to be remoulding the sturdy backbone created by his predecessors with a more fluid approach to the game. Would you agree?
Definitely. It took a little while at the beginning to become this expressive and I think it will only progress, but his decision to continuously start Mata, Oscar and Hazard is a testament to that fluid approach. I also think it has shown in how the centre backs play, Luiz and Cahill are now initiating a greater number of attacks, it’s great to watch.
Speaking of attacking players, Chelsea whisked a certain Belgian away from under Manchester United’s nose this summer. How do you feel Hazard has performed so far this season?
I feel he’s been outstanding. His start to the season was electric and there has been an excitement in he ground whenever he gets the ball. His productivity in terms of goals and assists may have slightly slowed down but his overall play has still been brilliant and I’m certain if he was playing for United, the positions in the league would be the other way round.
What are your views on the whole John Terry affair? Should he still be your captain? Has his “legendary” status at Chelsea been put in question?
I feel it has dragged on but obviously I can understand why. I think all parties could have handled it a lot better. I agreed with the judge’s ruling as there was an element of doubt but also agreed with the FA in punishing him. I’m actually surprised it wasn’t more severe. I think now is the time to go back to focusing on football but there will inevitably be an eye cast to the pre match handshake.
Regarding the captaincy I think it is perfectly fine to keep him in the position as long as the rest of the players at the squad are happy, I mean they are the people he is captaining not the fans or media.
Finally, I don’t think anything would be able to put his “legendary” status under question. In the end with the majority of sportsmen you often look back on their careers focusing on the positives and that will be the case with John Terry and Chelsea fans. He will remain our most successful captain and a mainstay of the Abramovich Era.
Many are surprised that Di Matteo, despite the Champions League win, is still Chelsea manager as he seemed more of a stop-gap between AVB and the next manager. Can you see him staying as your manager for many years?
I actually talked about this before the season started and although he’s impressed me so far this season, the answer remains no. I’d like him to be successful and stay at the club but I think Roman has other ideas and barring domestic success in the form of the league title, I think he will always be looking over his shoulder.
With John Terry serving his ban currently, do you feel that your defence is weaker without him or could his absence be beneficial to the team in the long run?
I’ve felt for some time now that John Terry individually has not been as good as his teammates but his leadership will always be missed, especially now that the likes of Drogba and Essien are gone, not to mention the likely absence of Frank Lampard. However, I think this is the best way to let David Luiz and Gary Cahill become more expressive within the team as leaders and build a partnership for the future.
With Manchester United seemingly unable to score unless the opponents do so first, can you see Di Matteo going all-out attack from the off in an attempt to get an early goal?
I think that has been his game plan in all the games so far this season. We’ve tended to look very bright at the start of games. Although I’m definitely wary of a Manchester United comeback, considering their record and our lapses in concentration.
Wayne Rooney has scored five goals in his last six appearances in all competitions against Chelsea. Having finally opened his tally vs. Stoke last week, do you see him as the main threat?
It’s hard to pinpoint just one threat with this United team. Both Rooney and Hernandez have had a good scoring record against Chelsea and Van Persie’s for Arsenal in recent times wasn’t too bad at all. I think whoever starts as the striker/s will be the main threat.
What is your predicted Chelsea line-up for this weekend?
With a fairly high degree of certainty I’m going to go with:
Ivanovic, Luiz, Cahill, Cole
Mata, Oscar, Hazard
Manchester United have only won one in their last 12 trips to Stamford Bridge. What do you think the outcome of the game will be?
Primarily, I see a goalfest. I think the home advantage will be the deciding factor and it will be a 3-2 win for Chelsea but then again I am a bit biased.
Thanks to Ramon Isaac from MowingMeadows for taking the time to answer our questions. Make sure you follow him on Twitter here: @mowingmeadows