Saturday, April 3, 2010
John Terry's headed goal settled the issue at Stamford Bridge in November last year. The rematch at Old Trafford carries heavier undertones this Saturday simply because Chelsea need to make up that one point deficit on the defending champions. The loss of Wayne Rooney will be intensely felt by Manchester United seeing that he has been the leading light of their title defence this season.
Carlo Ancelotti's Chelsea have lost the Premier League title lead in the last month after being in front for much of the season. Out of the Champions League, it is unthinkable that Ancelotti should be under pressure to deliver the Premiership title but he is...as Roman Abrahimovich demands it.
Without Rooney, all eyes should be focused on Drogba and his attitude towards this match. It would be good to see Owen Hargreaves back on the field again at some point. The on-fire Frank Lampard will be Chelsea's danger man and playmaker, the Lampard-Drogba partnership has yielded five Premiership goals for Drogba and that shows the understanding between the two top men.
How does the rivalry between Chelsea and Manchester United compare to that of United and Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal? I have to say it has not been as memorable when compared to the latter clubs.
Who could forget Arsenal's Pizzagate, Rafa's rant, Neville's bird-flipping, the 21-man brawl between Arsenal and United, but does anyone remember cases where intense on-pitch footballing rivalries spilled over when it came to the Red Devils and the Blues? For Chelsea and Manchester United, only the infamous 2008 "Battle of The Bridge" brawl stood out, where Patrice Evra fought with the Chelsea ground staff. After the days of Mourinho, Chelsea have been more subdued and that's reflected in the less explosive matches between the two clubs.
Finally, Manchester United have been top of the Premier League on April 1 on 10 occasions - and on nine occasions they went on to win the title. The exception was the 1997/98 season when Arsenal came from second at the start of April to take the title. They were three points behind United with two games in hand on April 1.
It's a Chelsea win for me, but it won't be memorable.
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