PRE-MATCH BRIEFING: CHELSEA V MANCHESTER UNITED - PART TWO
With a day to go to Sunday's big match, club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton complete their look-ahead to the first home match of 2014…
WE HAVE HISTORY
This fixture has been a significant event in the football calendar ever since 1905/06 when the two promotion-chasing sides drew crowds of 35,000 to Clayton and, sensationally, 67,000 to Stamford Bridge.
Both games were drawn, the one in Manchester only because the Pensioners' giant keeper Willie Foulke saved Bob Bonthron's penalty. Berated by his manager after the miss, Bonthron complained Foulke filled the goal to such an extent there was nowhere to aim his kick.
Manchester United were the first side faced by new manger Jose Mourinho in his opening spell at Chelsea on 15 August 2004. The last time the Portuguese had faced Sir Alex Ferguson he was dancing a jog as his Porto team registered a crucial last-minute goal at Old Trafford en route to winning the 2003/04 Champions League.
The Sunday kick-off was decided by single scored inside the first 15 minutes. Cameroon utility man Geremi slipped away from Quinton Fortune down the flank and crossed for Didier Drogba. The Ivorian directed a powerful header towards Eidur Gudjohnsen, who tapped home past Tim Howard with ease.
Along with Drogba, Paulo Ferreira, Ricardo Carvalho, Mateja Kezman, Alexey Smertin, and Petr Cech - preferred to Carlo Cudicini - were making their debut. United were missing several of their regulars and with Roy Keane in defence struggled to create chances against the spirited and well-organised hosts. Paul Scholes flashed a free kick across goal and Diego Forlan flashed a chance high and wide of goal.
Howard denied Drogba an opening day goal with a brave dive at his feet but Chelsea, with Carvalho deployed in midfield, were content to close out the match in a manner that foretold what would be a brilliant first campaign under Mourinho.
Man United's victory at Stamford Bridge in last season's corresponding match ended our 10-match unbeaten Premier League run at home against them since 2002. It was only their second league win in 15 visits to the Fulham Road.
Paul Scholes, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Ole Gunner Solskjaer were the scorers the previous time the Red Devils came away from SW6 with three points in April 2002.
Chelsea have lost more league games at home (30) and conceded more goals (121) against United than any other club in our history.
Our last 10 league meetings at Stamford Bridge
2003/04 - Chelsea won 1-0
2004/05 - Chelsea won 1-0
2005/06 - Chelsea won 3-0
2006/07 - Drew 0-0
2007/08 - Chelsea won 2-1
2008/09 - Drew 1-1
2009/10 - Chelsea won 1-0
2010/11 - Chelsea won 2-1
2011/12 - Drew 3-3
2012/13 - Man Utd won 3-2
The reverse fixture this season
26 August 2013 Barclays Premier League
Man Utd....……..….0 Chelsea………..……0
Chelsea v Manchester United in all competitions
Games played 169
Chelsea wins 47
United wins 72
Head to head in the League at Stamford Bridge
Games played 71
Chelsea wins 22
United wins 30
Biggest league win at Stamford Bridge for each team
Chelsea 5-0 Man Utd - 03/10/1999
Chelsea 0-4 Man Utd - 29/11/1947
Chelsea lost at home in the Premier League: 382
Man Utd lost away in the Premier League: 119
Arsenal won a trophy: 3,165
Liverpool won the league: 8,660
Frank Lampard may be available on Sunday for the first time since the win over Liverpool at the end of December. Man United have a number of players in doubt or already ruled out, including key players Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney.
David Moyes has a crucial decision to make who will play right-back and face Chelsea's man-of-the-moment, Eden Hazard. Fabio is suspended but in reality the likely candidates were always his brother Rafael, who sometimes lacks discipline, or Chris Smalling, who has been favoured for that position at the Etihad and White Hart Lane this season.
Utility man Phil Jones, who like centre-backs Jonny Evans and Rio Ferdinand may be involved after injury, is another possibility. Should Evans and Ferdinand not be fit, Jones or Smalling will be shunted into the centre to partner Nemanja Vidic.
This is another key area: during United's recent three-game losing streak there was a sense that teams who drive at the heart of their defence enjoy some return. One source of the problem may be the lack of well-organised defensive shield in a midfield that can also initiate attacks.
This is an area where they sometimes don't dominate opponents, despite the return of Michael Carrick (pictured below) and - happily, after his serious illness - Darren Fletcher. The deficiency was acknowledged as long ago as 2012 by Sir Alex Ferguson when he coaxed Paul Scholes out of retirement and extended Ryan Giggs's contract.
Summer signing Marouane Fellaini has qualities but not those the Red Devils arguably required there. In Moyes's system at Everton the Belgian often sat behind the sole striker in a 4-4-1-1/4-5-1 formation, acting as a ball magnet to his team, spraying it to teammates on the flanks, dropping deep when required.
United are not set up to channel everything through one player. At home to Swansea Moyes asked his team to raise the tempo, press quicker in the opposition half, and moved the impressive teenager Adnan Januzaj wide left, Shinji Kagawa playing more centrally as a no.10.
Those two may encounter Chelsea's newest signing, 6ft 4in midfield interceptor Nemanja Matic, who faced Man United with previous club Benfica. He came on as a second half substitute twice in the 2011/12 Champions League group stage as Jorge Jesus sought to close out games; both finished as score draws. It was suggested over last summer United had seen enough to want to sign him.
Left-footed, physically and mentally resilient, Matic ticks all the boxes to play as the defensive midfielder in a 4-3-3 should Mourinho wish you move in that direction. He can also play as the more creative of two in the centre. His aerial dominance adds to set plays at either end.
In Fellaini's and Rooney's central absence a massive percentage of United's attacks come from their right wing, very few through the middle - a break from the last few seasons under Ferguson. Critics have pointed to the number of crosses that continue to be fired in despite no real replacement for sidelined Van Persie's aerial strength.
Januzaj has been an enormous positive for the Red Devils. He is little known and therefore unpredictable, skilful and keen to take players on, but his keenness to deliver a breakthrough has led to three bookings for simulation in just a few months.
United's full-backs are asked to push on, though not quite Leighton Baines-style, as their attacking midfielders sometimes play quite narrow. This has worked in the past as the Red Devils created the impression of waves of attacks and often overwhelmed opponents.
However there is now more of a concern about the ability of the backs to deliver offensively and to recover their defensive posts when possession is lost. This is heightened if one of their usual deep-lying midfielders, Tom Cleverley, joins the attack too, leaving them short of personnel on rapid counter-attacks. If confidence dips United tend to play in front of teams rather than getting in behind them.
Chelsea under José Mourinho are designed to exploit gaps, with flexibility and pace of thought and movement in whoever plays in the front four. As usual the Blues will look to pounce on the ball high up the field, capitalising on individual mistakes. Hazard, Willian, Oscar and Fernando Torres are all in fine form. Juan Mata also likes facing United: he has netted twice and assisted five goals in nine meetings with them.
United have not scored in any of our last three meetings in all competitions but have a better away record this season than Chelsea, with six wins in 10 compared to the Blues' five in 11. However, they have conceded as many on the road as West Ham and more than Aston Villa.
Only Man City have a better home record than the Pensioners, who are averaging more than two goals per game at the Bridge.
- If Chelsea win, Coral will double the odds on all bets placed through www.coral.co.uk on Chelsea to beat Manchester United this Sunday!