Ferguson banks on home form to maintain Reds’ title advantage

Sunday’s match against Chelsea may not earn Manchester United the Premier League title but victory will take Sir Alex Ferguson’s side to within a whisker of a 19th domestic championship. It is a prize that came sharply into focus this week, with the 69-year-old Scot resting key players during United’s Champions League semi-final defeat of Schlake. Wednesday’s 4-1 win, taking United to Wembley on a 6-1 aggregate scoreline, has provided Ferguson’s squad with a welcome tonic ahead of Chelsea’s visit. Not that United’s manager had any doubts about his team’s performances at Old Trafford, claiming that the Reds’ home form is the best in Europe.

Despite overwhelming margin of victory Ferguson will make substantial changes to the side that beat the former German champions this week, with up to seven players returning. Indeed, United’s manager effectively gambled the Reds’ progression in Europe to ensure his troops do not suffer the fatigue that so affected last week’s performance against Arsenal.

“Our home record is probably the best in Europe,” Ferguson said on Friday.

“It is the reason we are there. Some of the performances at home this season have been absolutely terrific. Hopefully it will get us the result we want on Sunday because this is a big game. If we win, we should win the league.

“Everyone is aware of the magnitude of Sunday’s game. It is one of the reasons why I picked the team I did on Wednesday. I wanted to give us a real chance. We will have a fresh team and that makes a difference at this time of the season.”

Yet Chelsea arrive in Manchester, site of defeat in the Champions League last month, in outstanding domestic form. Elimination from Europe’s premier competition has precipitated a run gaining the Londoners 25 points from a potential 27. Coupled with United dropping points at Anfield, St James’ Park and the Emirates recently, victory for Carlo Ancelotti’s men will take Chelsea to the head of the Premier League table.

It is a scenario, says Ferguson, enabled by United’s loss to Chelsea in the Premier League in March, where referee Martin Atkinson’s performance drew a stinging rebuke from the Scot.

“That result was the change for them,” added Ferguson, whose criticism of Atkinson earned a five-match touchline ban.

“We all know the circumstances of that game and I don’t need to get into that. But the outcome gave them a lift. They were out of the game and they had won it. But we always said it is a very difficult league. The Premier League is hard to win. We know because we have been involved in the championship races for 19 years.”

Manchester United v Chelsea, Premier League, Old Trafford, 7 May 2011Captain Nemanja Vidic returns to lead the side, alongside Rio Ferdinand, Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernández, Ryan Giggs and Ji-Sung Park. Despite the positive performances from Brazilian midfielder Anderson and the much maligned Darron Gibson in midweek neither is likely to make Ferguson’s starting line-up. The same is true of Darren Fletcher, of whom Ferguson has high hopes for the Champions League final in three weeks, but he should make the bench against Chelsea.

Indeed, Ferguson’s principal decision rests on whether to maintain the 4-4-1-1 shape that proved so effective against Chelsea in Europe, or augment United’s midfield against Ancelotti’s newly rediscovered three-man engine room.

That United does not need to chase victory may prove decisive. However, it is a selection poser for which the Scot is providing few clues, claiming only that United will not play for a draw.

“I have no idea what to expect from Chelsea,” added Ferguson, whose team has allowed a 15 point Premier League lead to slip in the past two months.

“I was at their game last week and couldn’t get anything from that. Drogba played the whole game so you would expect him definitely to play. But he started off wide right, then Torres went there. Whether they start with both of them on Sunday is difficult to say. But no matter what they do, we have the players to handle it.”

Chelsea manager Ancelotti must choose whether to field both Didier Drogba and £50 million striker Fernando Torres, who was so ineffectual during the recent Champions League encounters. However, David Luiz is available for the Premier League match after missing the European games due to ineligibility.

Luiz was a key figure when Chelsea beat United 2-1 at Stamford bridge in March, scoring the winning goal. Indeed, the Londoners have won the last three Premier League encounters between the sides, including a controversial victory during last season’s title run in.

Yet, it is to the recent European ties that United will turn. Victory home and away in the Champions League will give the Reds a psychological edge, claims winger Nani.

“The most important game now is Chelsea not Barcelona. It will be very difficult. But we are at home and we have had good experiences against them,” said winger Nani, who may well return to the bench for Chelsea’s visit.

“We know if we want to win the game we have to play with confidence. The results against them in the Champions League were very good. I think that gives us the psychological advantage. We just have to concentrate on our football and winning the game. If we do that then everything will be fine.

“If we win this one then it is a great advantage for us. It is nearly over then. We have a great chance.”

And with United having taken 49 of 51 potential points at home this season, it is a message that United supporters can rally round. Only West Bromwich Albion has emerged with anything from Old Trafford in the Premier League; unless Chelsea can improve on that result the title is surely United’s.

Match Facts
Premier League. Old Trafford, London, 7 May 20011, 4.00pm.

Teams
United – 4411 – van der Sar; Rafael da Silva, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Valencia, Carrick, Giggs, Park; Rooney; Hernandez. Subs from: Kuszazck, Brown, Evans, Smalling, Fabio da Silva, Gibson, Owen, O’Shea, Giggs, Berbatov, Nani, Anderson.

Chelsea – 433 – Cech; Ivanovic, Terry, Luiz, Cole; Mikel, Lampard, Essien; Kalou, Drogba, Malouda. Subs from: Hilário, Turnbull, Ramires, Torres, Benayoun, Zhirkov, Ferreira, Alex, Bertrand, Anelka, McEachran

Officials
Referee: Howard Webb
Assistant referees: Darren Cann & Mike Mullarkey
Fourth official: Phil Dowd

Form
United – LDWWLW
Chelsea – WLWWWW

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Comments

  1. Sidsidney says

    I’m hoping for one of those huge occasions where we overwhelm the opposition on & off the pitch and everything goes our way and we score early and then get a second and it’s a celebration
    But I think we’ll draw

  2. triggs says

    I think we’ll be pumped for this. We’ll be well rested, focused and buoyed by reaching the final. I fancy us to win.
    Anyone noticed that if we win and then get at least a draw against Blackburn – we win the league on Sat 14 May. Just so happens to be the same day City play the FA Cup final. So even if they win the final, they’ll still be overshadowed by United on their big day!

  3. uncleknobheadffsuncleknobheadforfucksake says

    the only problem we might have is if fergie reads all these reports of torres being dropped and chelsea going one up front and decides to bring in his bastard son to match em

  4. SpudiatorSpudiator says

    I can’t see anything but a United victory from this. The Arsenal defeat was frustrating, but to be honest pretty much in keeping with our away record this season. The home record is a different story though, we’ve been untouchable at home all season and have an almost 100% record, plus the prospect of as good as sealing the title (realistically if not quite mathematically) should be more than enough to motivate the players.

  5. says

    Yep its very hard to pick Fergie’s sides because he is always thinking 2/3 games down the line and juggling his players.

    When it comes to the CL final he will be pick what he thinks is his best side for this match, with no need to consider any future matches.

    Therefore it should be slightly easier to guess.

    It all add up Giggs and Carrick have done really well as a partnership in CM in the QF/SF and with Fletcher not likely to be fit it seems the logical choice. Valencia and Park can offer more in their allround game so should be picked ahead of Nani, the ultimate impact sub.

    Rooney and Hernandez should pick themselves (especially if they find the net between now the final), as will 4 of the back 5. One of Rafael, Fabio or O’Shea will fill the RB slot. That one is a very tough call. The hot hand for me is Fabio. One twin could start and the other could miss out altogether.

    Interesting times!

  6. says

    I am so glad I shall be working and not watch this live. I am so nervous I feel sick even though it is still just saturday night!!!

    I am not sure I will be able to recover if we do not win the title from here on…

  7. madredmonkeymadredmonkey says

    Will be at work till half time, come on united, win and make our season,
    All the best everyone, let’s make it 19.

  8. sheesh says

    I won’t be watching the game tomorrow.

    I might go the whole hog and just avoid knowing the score until I watch the game on Monday evening.

    See you on the other side.

  9. Sidsidney says

    Psh, look at these wimps not wanting to watch the match… You’d think we’d never been in this situation before
    There’s no need to shit it
    Anything other than a United win and the title race is still open as both teams have ballachingly difficult away games against Blackburn and Everton

  10. uncleknobheadffsuncleknobheadforfucksake says

    sid 20 years agp we had seven titles and liverpool had 18, we’ve waited 21 years for today, this is the ultimate game to seperate the people with massive bollocks like me with the benders like cal and spike

  11. ltel says

    MUFC: Van der Sar; Fabio, Ferdinand, Vidic, O’Shea; Valencia, Carrick Giggs, Park; Rooney; Hernandez… CFC Torres on bench.”

  12. sheesh says

    sidney said:
    Psh, look at these wimps not wanting to watch the match… You’d think we’d never been in this situation before
    There’s no need to shit it
    Anything other than a United win and the title race is still open as both teams have ballachingly difficult away games against Blackburn and Everton

    I’m not shitting it.
    I have a job interview tomorrow. I literally don’t have time to watch the match. If I did, I would have gone to the game.

  13. SpudiatorSpudiator says

    ltel said:
    MUFC: Van der Sar; Fabio, Ferdinand, Vidic, O’Shea; Valencia, Carrick Giggs, Park; Rooney; Hernandez… CFC Torres on bench.”

    I would’ve been happier if Torres was playing, Chelsea always seem to do worse with him on the pitch. That said, the line-up looks pretty positive and strong enough to put them to the sword, and at least Fergie hasn’t been tempted to go for this one-up-front bollocks. That looks like a good, attacking line-up.

  14. han says

    uncleknobheadforfucksake said:
    sid 20 years agp we had seven titles and liverpool had 18, we’ve waited 21 years for today, this is the ultimate game to seperate the people with massive bollocks like me with the benders like cal and spike

    u can stick ur gonads in ur mouth…squeaky arse time is fast approaching

  15. SpudiatorSpudiator says

    Fucking typical, my stream went down, and as soon as I found another one it was 2-0, so I missed the goal.

  16. bman says

    Spudiator said:
    Fucking typical, my stream went down, and as soon as I found another one it was 2-0, so I missed the goal.

    I missed the first fucking goal, but Vida’s was a nice header. We’ve got them on the ropes, this is beautiful!

  17. SpudiatorSpudiator says

    Ivanovic is treading on thin ice, cannot believe he didn’t get a second yellow for that cynical challenge on Rooney.

  18. brianofnazarethbrianofnazareth says

    Great first half lads…. let’s keep it up now, they can’t really get any worse so they will come out fired up!! let’s stay strong!!

  19. bman says

    brianofnazareth said:
    Valencia is MASSIVE for us….

    Yep, he’s fucking ace. Speed, control, energy, bollocks – he’s got the full package. Can’t believe how he’s recovered from that nasty injury, you’d never think it had even happened.

  20. SpudiatorSpudiator says

    Bill said:
    Ancelotti has to take Ivanovic off, one more foul and he’s gone. Should have gone already TBH.

    I hope he doesn’t, he looks like the weakest link in Chelsea’s defence, and you can be certain he’s gonna get himself sent off in the second half at this rate. I’d be very surprised if Ancelotti took that chance though, he must know as well as everyone else that Chelsea are lucky to still have 11 men on the pitch.

    Gotta say as well, David Luiz doesn’t look anything like the player he did against us at Stamford Bridge, granted he hasn’t had the chance to foul his way around the pitch like he did then, but he’s been virtually anonymous. He might be another one for United to target in the second half, put him under constant pressure and see if he does something silly.

  21. brianofnazarethbrianofnazareth says

    bman said:
    Yep, he’s fucking ace. Speed, control, energy, bollocks – he’s got the full package. Can’t believe how he’s recovered from that nasty injury, you’d never think it had even happened.

    Bri likes this.

  22. uncleknobheadffsuncleknobheadforfucksake says

    I like these short corners, none of that aimlessly hoofing it to the first man shite, until nani comes on

  23. bman says

    Park starting to get a bit wobbly, maybe he’s tired. Always have the option of bringing on Nani.

  24. herbie simms says

    Chelsea have scored! United been playing too relaxed in this half, will need to step it back up.

  25. herbie simms says

    Just need to keep piling on the pressure in the last five minutes, don,t let Chelsea control the ball.

  26. bman says

    fucking hell Chico, jesus we should have this done and dusted by now. The Chavs have escaped a sending off and two penalties, and now we’re throwing away chances.

  27. brianofnazarethbrianofnazareth says

    YYYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    CHAMPIONS……. ????

  28. Spike says

    Cry Bindippers CRY!!!!

    We are the Champions of England!

    I love Valencia and Chicarito, what players they are!

  29. bman says

    Yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

    Terry looking gutted, love it. Chico is crying – that lad’s had a fucking amazing season, which isn’t even over yet. From Mexico to PL champion and CL final.

  30. SpudiatorSpudiator says

    That second half was a bit hairy, and Chelsea are still the jammiest team in the world when it comes to refereeing decisions, but we held on in the end, and that 19th league title is as good as ours!

  31. madmaxmadmax says

    Entire team played well today. We owned them in the first half, started faffing in the second but once they scored we created 5 or 6 within 10 mins. We just schooled them. Been long since we played like this. Absolutely beautiful.

  32. madredmonkeymadredmonkey says

    Got, in at 5.45, been shitting myself, but new we would win, congrats united 19, great news, happy for all on united rant, especially me mate Han.

  33. han says

    hey mad red
    was wondering where u were
    fantastic result – feel so happy i could even invite uncleknobhead to our party later

  34. madredmonkeymadredmonkey says

    han said:
    hey mad red
    was wondering where u were
    fantastic result – feel so happy i could even invite uncleknobhead to our party later

    Only if he blows for free, was at work, crapping myself.

    MANCHESTER IS MY HEAVEN- SIR MATT BUSBY

  35. ltel says

    Calvino said:
    Champions!!!!! Get in there………!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    it was easy too mate..loving it. thats the team for champions league bar oshea

  36. madmaxmadmax says

    Park’s energy was vital. Chelsea didn’t know what hit them in the first 20 mins. He was everywhere.

  37. han says

    i dont want to piss on anyone’s parade but we still need a point to be sure – i’m hoping for a double celebration next saturday with a win against b’burn and stoke winning in london

  38. captainhormonecaptainhormone says

    not bad considering webb was doing his best to give chelsea a chance to get back in the game

    bald cunt!!!

    ffs, ivanovic off and at least one nailed on penalty….cunts

  39. herbie simms says

    Bring all that beer and rum to Blackburn next next.
    Ancelotti just lost his job today and Arsenal fans want Wenger, sacked! United has ben a nightmare for these managers. SAF remains king of the premier league.

  40. says

    han,
    I understand fully your caution, but do you honestly think we will lose those two matches? The strident but idiotic London press have talked up Chelsea’s “good game” all week and we have gone in and battered them. At Ewood, Blackburn will be defencive knowing that we will cane them if they even as much as dare to attack. So, at worst we shall get a point.

    Champions!!!! Nemanja Vidic, another Sir Alex title winning skipper. Absolutely amazing.

  41. uncleknobheadffsuncleknobheadforfucksake says

    I’m feeling right emotional like a bender, I thought itd be decades until we got an eighth, now this is nineteen

  42. madredmonkeymadredmonkey says

    uncleknobheadforfucksake said:
    I’m feeling right emotional like a bender, I thought itd be decades until we got an eighth, now this is nineteen

    We always new that you were a bender.

  43. Ted says

    I fuckin hate that horrible little faggot Ashley Cole. Bent twat.

    All together now…………”One man went to bed, went to bed with Ashley…..10 men, 9 men, 8 men, 7 men, 6 men, 5 men, 4 men, 3 men, 2 men, 1 man and his mobile phone, WENT TO BED WITH ASHLEY”

  44. Pikey McScumPikey McScum says

    With the only change being Evra for O’Shea, I reckon that’s the Champions League Final starting XI right there…

  45. squigs says

    Played like champions 2-1 was kind on them. Brilliant, almost unfair to single out individual performances.

    19.

  46. han says

    park was superb especially in the 1st 60 mins
    he must have had 3 rottweilers for his breakfast…

  47. Just1n says

    han said:
    park was superb especially in the 1st 60 mins
    he must have had 3 rottweilers for his breakfast…

    Yeah agree. Park was terrific. Big match player. We need that energy in the CL final.

  48. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    Blog Commenter said:
    Bring all that beer and rum to Blackburn next next.
    Ancelotti just lost his job today and Arsenal fans want Wenger, sacked! United has ben a nightmare for these managers. SAF remains king of the premier league.

    Ancelotti is too classy for those chavy twats anyway… and Wenger won’t be sacked… he does well with the money Arsenal give him.

  49. Pikey McScumPikey McScum says

    Not to go off on a tangent here, but if Ancelotti does go I could see Guardiola coming in. There’s been more chat today about leaving Barca with Inter sniffing around. Expect the Russian to hand him the keys to rebuild Chelski so that they play Barca-esque football, which is what Abramovich always wanted anyway.

    Mind you, Guardiola pretty much inherited the current Barca team, so could be interesting to see him in a team rebuild scenario…

    • vlad says

      yeah if Guardiola comes to Chelski he won’t last long.
      Abramovich is now short of money btw – cannot afford to throw millions around.
      He will probably sack Ancelotti because of January buys.

  50. SpudiatorSpudiator says

    I’m not afraid of Guardiola going to Chelsea, there’s no way he’d get away with encouraging such gamesmanship and play-acting over here that he does in Spain. I know a bit of it goes on, but nothing like in Spain, and even the pansies at The FA wouldn’t let that slide.

  51. herbie simms says

    But the BBC is saying they believe Anceotti will walk away before he is fired. Ancelotti and Wenger are good managers, their teams remain in the top 4. Its great that we have a week off before we play Blackburn. I would like to beat them at home and win the league in style.

  52. kramer says

    what a fucking game and what a result. i went mad at the final whistle. valencia is a fucking beast. chicharito missed a chance, but the instinct he has is incredible.

    fucking great

  53. Sidsidney says

    Fucking hell, what a day
    Didn’t get to bed ’til 5am. I’m still a bit pissed now
    Class match though. Everything went out way, and it was a celebration like I’d hoped for. We should have scored more tbf. Chelsea just weren’t having it.

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