Sunday, November 8, 2009

Top of The Premiership Table: The Battle At The Bridge!

It's the top of the table clash already, Chelsea vs. Manchester United at Stamford Bridge. The new boy, Carlo Ancelotti taking on the wily old fox, Sir Alex Ferguson. So far Chelsea's first "Big Four" encounter has ended in victory, thumping Liverpool 2-0 also at The Bridge whereas Manchester United has met two "Big Four" teams and while they beat Arsenal, the Red Devils hardly got going against a fired-up Liverpool.

Chelsea is in great form and looking very strong in all departments, including the subs. Manchester United, on the other hand are chugging out the necessary wins but yet to look convincing. Especially suspect are the midfield and defence areas (3-3 CSKA Moscow, 2-0 Liverpool). Chelsea would like to win this match to stay top of the Big Four Mini League just for bragging rights.
The Flat Back Four sizes up the two clubs going into this match.

Goalkeeper Ratings:
Chelsea: 7
Petr Cech is solid but have yet to recapture the Golden Gloves form of 2004/2005 season. Strangely uncomfortable with crosses for a man so big and in the last few seasons, he is prone to lapses in concentration. Even so, he has kept 6 clean sheets this season.
Man Utd: 9
Edwin Van der Sar gets better with age. Commanding, vocal, great with crosses. He is also an excellent shot stopper. He brings confidence to the United defence.

Defence Ratings:

Chelsea: 9
The Blues have conceded the least goals (8) thus far in the English Premier League. The understanding that Terry has with Carvalho is almost telepathic. Carvalho is the reason for Chelsea's good defensive display this season. Ashley Cole forward runs will further add to the dangers of Chelsea's overall play.
Man Utd: 7.5
The loss of Rio Ferdinand is a big blow but more worrying is the shaky form of Nemanja Vidic. A figure of solidity and strength last season, Vidic is slower and less decisive in this one. Ferguson still need to locate a reliable rightback to replace Gary Neville. Rafael Da Silva definitely is one for the future but someone with experience is needed. Ashley Cole will look to exploit the weaker right defensive side of United.

Midfield Ratings:
Chelsea: 9
Without a doubt the best midfield in the Premiership. Three Chelsea midfielders, Ballack, Essien and Lampard have been nominated for the World Player of The Year award. That is testament of their abilities and achievement on the pitch. All three and Joe Cole/Deco are capable of match winning performances. The midfield is dynamic, creative and strong.
Man Utd: 7
Clearly the weakest area of Manchester United's squad. The long term loss of Owen Hargreaves means that there is no "shield" for the defence. The midfield lacks dynamism and mobility. Ferguson does not trust Anderson as much as he should and Carrick is badly out of form. Darren Fletcher is a big game player and he will have a tough task closing down the Chelsea midfield diamond.

Attack Ratings:
Chelsea: 9
A partnership which has amassed 12 goals over 11 matches. Drogba and Anelka are both strong and powerful, with intelligence to match. The pair is thriving on the chances handed to them by their midfielders. Unlike other strikers, these two are quite willing to run down the channels, opening space for the midfield to join in the attack.
Man Utd: 9
Any team with Wayne Rooney is a confident team. With Rooney, a team will get a hardworking team player and a match winner, all in one. Rooney and Berbatov is building up a very impressive partnership and that is the result of time spent playing together. An attack that is filled with creativity, clever movement and aggression. But will Berbatov be interested enough to make a difference?

Chelsea - 34
Man Utd - 32.5

Hence, Chelsea just edges this match, perhaps the impact of Owen coming on late will tip the game in United's favour...that's assuming the match is an evenly matched affair up till then.

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