FRANK COUNTS THE MEN IN THE MIDDLE

Posted on: Sat 25 Nov 2006

The midfield contest at Old Trafford on Sunday will be fought out between players who collectively possess several hundred international caps.

Manchester United have selected the same midfield four of Giggs, Carrick, Scholes and Ronaldo for five out of the last six Premiership or European games.

Chelsea's line-up has been slightly less stable. A rest for Michael Ballack and a suspension for Frank Lampard have seen to that. However a quartet of those two players plus Claude Makelele and Michael Essien was consistently selected before then.

With Giggs and Ronaldo recognised as genuine wide players whereas Chelsea have often played with a narrower diamond shape, Old Trafford promises to host an intriguing turf war.

'I am not sure how it will work because I watched Man United against Celtic and they almost had a three in central midfield at times,' reckons Lampard who spotted Giggs tucking inside.

'We will try to deal with it with our three or four midfielders, however we play.

'Looking at both teams' strengths, we will have the numerical superiority in midfield but then we will have the problem of their width. That will be a big tactical battle in terms of winning the game.'

Whichever way the two teams play it, Lampard has faith in Jose Mourinho to communicate his plan to his team.

'For me he ticks all the boxes tactically,' praises the vice-captain.

'He is a manager that personally I find that when he sits down and talks tactics, whether it is something you have known all your career or something new, it makes complete sense and it all fits.

'I love that because I like to learn from a manager. It is great to feel that he is on the ball tactically and he can bring a different angle than what you have seen before.

'There's his man-management every day too. When you are dealing with top players, man managing them and getting the best out of them, that's most important thing because they already have the quality inside.'