Chelsea v Manchester United: Preview

What an occasion to post my 100th post in this blog - Manchester United at Stamford Bridge!

The match has a lot of significance though Scolari believes this is just another league match. If Chelsea win this, the statement they make would be loud and clear. If United manage to win, then it would be the spark they need to truly kick start their season. If United win or the match turns out to be a draw, which many consider a safe bet, then Arsenal would end up having the top spot in the table.

Liverpool drew with Stoke yesterday after a Gerrard goal was disallowed in the early minutes and then they failed to overcome Stoke's physicality. They became league toppers until Arsenal beat Bolton at Reebok late in the evening to claim the top spot. Now its upto the Blues to take back their spot in the league, which they occupied since the season began a month ago.

After the match against the French side mid-week, Scolari pointed out that there was still a lot of room for improvement. I believe Scolari was warning the players against getting complacent. He wants a state of "tranquillity" i.e, good possession effectively minimizing opposition attacks. I guess all the time he had the weekend match in mind and he wasn't impressed with Chelsea giving away balls easily.

There is a strong possibility of Scolari going with the same starting line-up that drubbed Bordeaux mid-week and humbled Citeh the last weekend. Drogba and Ballack might be fit to play and Scolari may bring them on during the game. Anelka, though he missed half a dozen chances whenever he played this season, is likely to get another go before Drogba replaces him in first team.

I'm just praying Scolari won't commit the same mistake Grant committed - to play Drogba upfront and Anelka wide. Joe Cole is having a splendid time and Malouda is beginning to play well and so we don't need a replacement in the flanks. Similarly, Ballack would find it difficult to displace Lampard, Deco or Mikel from midfield. Its no coincidence that whenever John Obi played, Chelsea won comfortably.

For United, Ronaldo is likely to start because it was his arrival that unlocked the Villareal defense. Before that, United didn't look like scoring at all. It remains to be seen if Fergie considers this match worth risking Ronaldo's fitness. I think Fergie would start Ronaldo unless he shares the same opinion as me - Ronaldo is useless against good opponents.

If Ronaldo starts, it would be interesting to see where Bosingwa plays, in the opposition half as he does nowadays or his own half. Ronaldo wouldn't fancy the wing Ashley Cole is defending because he was unsuccessful there in previous meetings. Marcel Desailly believes Ronaldo starting would be an indication of how desperate United is. Maybe Magricoz ex-coach Scolari knows how to deal with Ronaldo.

Meanwhile Setanta Sports reports that Mineiro had a successful medical at Stamford Bridge yesterday and is close to completing a move. The Brazilian midfielder would be a replacement for injured Essien.

Guess at the team:
Bosingwa, Carvalho, Terry, Cole
Deco, Mikel, Lampard
J.Cole, Anelka, Malouda
subs: Cudicini, Alex, Belletti, Bridge, Drogba, Ballack, Ferreira, Kalou

Referee: Mike Riley
Time :14:00 BST/18:30 IST
TV Timings: 1830 ESPN(IST), 21/09/08. 
Scoreline prediction: 3-1

Head To Head
Home and Away:
League (inc PL): Chelsea 37 wins, United 55 wins, Draws 40
Prem: Chelsea 10 wins, United 9 wins, Draws 13
At Stamford Bridge:
League (inc PL): Chelsea 20 wins, United 29, Draws 17
Prem: Chelsea 6 wins, United 4 wins, Draws 6

Form Guide
17 Aug v Portsmouth (H) won 4-0 (EPL)
24 Aug v Wigan (A) won 1-0 (EPL)
31 Aug v Tottenham (H) drew 1-1 (EPL)
13 Sep v Manchester City (A) won 3-1 (EPL)
16 Sep v Bordeaux (H) won 4-0 (CL)

Manchester United:
17 Aug v Newcastle (H) drew 1-1 (EPL)
25 Aug v Portsmouth (A) won 1-0 (EPL)
29 Aug v Zenit St Petersburg (N) lost 1-2 (SC)
13 Sep v Liverpool (A) lost 1-2 (EPL)
17 Sep v Villarreal (H) drew 0-0 (CL)

Come on Blues, Keep the Blue flag flying high !!