During this week’s Can They Score podcast, we look back at the disappointing 2-2 draw in the FA Cup against Chelsea. We look at what went wrong after such a promising start, praising Benitez, questioning Sir Alex’s substitutions once again and looking at Wayne Rooney’s attitude. After that we talk Qatar, De Gea, Ferdinand’s immaturity and preview the weekend’s match against manager- less Reading. Joining me in the studio is Jonas and Frenchy. Read more…
During this week’s Can They Score podcast, we look over the two crazy fixtures against Chelsea, discuss our strengths and weaknesses and preview the exciting prospect of another 8-2 victory against Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal side. Joining us in the studio today is Tom Pattison and Nik Storey.
Tom Pattison reflects on why even in victory this United side is not yet ready to compete with the very best.
Controversy reigned at StamfordBridge. A shame for the neutral as before the chaos viewers had been treated to some exhilarating football from two teams unforgiving in attack yet bafflingly accommodating in defence. Miguel Delaney’s report hits the nail emphatically on the head.
In a rerun of St James’ Park, United opened on the front foot and were richly rewarded. Runners flooded to support Robin van Persie. The Sleepy Nik predicted plundering of the Chelsea left providing a rich supply of openings. David Luiz was left exposed by an overworked Cole and Mikel’s failure to cover in front of him. Both goals came from the same point of attack and with a two goal lead United looked home and dry.
Except that they didn’t. In the same way that once we halved the deficit against Braga it felt inevitable we would win, so it seemed expected that the home side would claw their way back into the game.
The Gandalf mantra (‘you shall not pass’) is alive and well in our back five but so long as our midfield continues to operate as a turnstile we are going to face long spells of pressure against sides of real quality. Worryingly our ability to care for the ball and relieve the tension was below par granting little respite to an overworked backline. A combination of De Gea’s reflexes and the type of rearguard action Ferdinand specialises in made it tough at times, but in spite of this Chelsea not only came back from a two goal deficit but looked primed to complete the job before officialdom intervened.
It is unhelpful but comfortable to muse on players gone by as wave after wave of Chelsea attacks sliced through our central midfield. Oh for a Keane, Butt, Ince, or Whiteside. Carrick, Cleverley and Rooney tried manfully to stem the tide but the lack of specialist was apparent for all to see; yet perhaps a specialist isn’t the answer. It is hard to believe when reflecting on theFergusonera the sheer variety of teams he has created. When watching a display like this it is difficult to believe that less than five years ago a Ferguson team nullified Barcelona to the extent that they failed to score over 180 minutes in a European semi-final. That feat was achieved with a team containing such grizzled, rugged midfield destroyers as Carlos Tevez and Paul Scholes. Interestingly the absence of Vidic and deployment of Rooney in midfield is pretty much the only thing to link these radically different sides. The victory overBarcelonawas all about the tactical plan of Carlos Queiroz; he might have won few fans but the current vintage might benefit from the wisdom of the Portuguese. Comparisons may have been drawn between our attacking options with the European conquerors of 1999 and 2008 but though possessing the adventure to merit the association; the absent ability to shut up shop when necessary poses a major barrier to emulating their achievements.
This United side is great fun. The thrill of the swashbuckling opening twenty bookended by the schadenfreude of the final twenty made for a hugely satisfying triumph over a genuine rival. The suspicion remains though that like the last roaring twenties, unless we take action a major crash could be waiting for us around the corner.
The Red Devils travel to Stamford Bridge on Sunday for the biggest match of their season so far. With the Blues top of the Premier League table, Sir Alex Ferguson will be keen to take some points away from the likes of Hazard and Co. However, with our flurry of injuries and defensive uncertainty, it seems more than likely that United will have to go on the offensive rather than the defensive in this difficult away fixture.
Whilst United can take confidence from the fact that they scored three goals at Stamford Bridge last season and Robin van Persie scored a hat trick against them too, the Blues have been in fine form with their fluid front three of Hazard, Oscar and Mata and are firing on all cylinders. As discussed in our Pre Match Interview, it’s definitely an early season six pointer and is sure to be full of goals.
For further build up to the match, listen to the latest episode of the CTS Podcast where we preview the clash in detail with tactical talk, predicted line ups and player profiles here or via iTunes:
This video was created by @AntonAlfy and is from his YouTube page here.
During this week’s Can They Score podcast, we talk about our fixture against Braga, approaching games against Chelsea and Rio, De Gea, Downing and James Bond in between. Joining us in the studio today is Tom Pattison and Doron Salomon.
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:
In preparation for our huge match against Chelsea this weekend, we’ve asked Denise, from The Chelsea Blog, some questions about Villas Boas, Frank Lampard, his Chelsea/ United dream and much more!
After a tough start to the season, at Stoke City, Chelsea seem to be slowly finding form with four consecutive victories. However, Villas Boas hasn’t exactly mesmerized us with beautiful football, what are your thoughts on his arrival? Read more…