Friday, 6 November 2009
Chelsea v Unireh…
There may be other fixtures this weekend, and there may be plenty of other issues up and down the league but when I sat down to do a predictions blog for this Saturday, Sunday and Monday three words stopped me in my tracks. ‘Fat Sam’ and ‘Lawrenson’.
Scanning through a fixture list that looks odds on for a few one-alls, the odd thrashing and Phil Brown losing his job once James Beattie scores for Stoke I thought it best to leap over the Lawro-isms and get on to the big business of the league’s top two sides battering each other on Sunday afternoon. (Also, trying to predict a Liverpool game is too weighty on the soul at the minute).
Just the word ‘Blackburn’ turns my stomach now, with images conjured of the ugly, bullshitting, bad tempered, mildly disfigured koala that is Sam Allardyce picking yet another needless fight in his press conferences, alongside the similarly horrific-to-look-at football they play. Let’s just say I hope they get beaten heavily by Pompey and that Sam ends up in the lower leagues ASAP.
Not that the Chelsea and United always play beautiful football of course. Both of these sides can get hugely robotic when they want to and, in both cases when confronted by other big sides (both with Barcelona last season for instance) they can be as quick as an elderly Italian manager who shall remain nameless to revert to a safety-first game. There is however, something brilliantly compelling whenever these two meet. Well except for that dead rubber league game involving Chris Eagles a few years back.
The Champions League final of two seasons ago is a perfect example and, mainly due to the concentration on John Terry’s wonderfully poetic penalty miss, it’s a game that is often overlooked as one of the best ‘major’ matches of the decade. Finals, semi finals and huge clashes between big sides are often woeful affairs.
I’d put that game alongside Barcelona’s three-all (Messi hat trick included) against Madrid a few seasons back, Italy and Germany’s immense World Cup semi final in 2006, Istanbul in 2005 and a few more as one of the most complete games of the decade but unfortunately not even Didier Drogba’s stupid sending off is remembered as “Terry’s Tears TM” dominate any flashbacks.
Chelsea, the home side on Sunday, have to be favourites due to Rio Ferdinand’s injury problems and United’s shambolic defensive display on Tuesday. Add in an in-form Drogba, the excellent Anelka, and the ever reliable Laaaaaaaaaamps and they should score a goal or two, though considering their problems at set pieces Vidic may well score as many as Drogba come Sunday.
Carlo Ancelloti has a 100% record at home in the league, and the last two times he’s locked horns with Ferguson he’s won out over two Champions League legs in ’05 (with a little help from Roy Carroll closing his eyes in case a Pirlo shot hit him in the face) and handsomely in ’07, winning the second leg three-nothing at home having been very unlucky to lose to a last minute Rooney goal in England the week before.
For United, considering everyone else has been calling time on the careers of various players so far this season (Carragher, Ferdinand, King) I’m going out on a limb to say Paul Scholes will never make a difference for United in a big game again. Yeah, yeah he scored on Tuesday and bedazzles Stoke and West Ham whenever he plays them but in this type of game I think he’ll be lost in the slipstream of Chelsea’s midfield with possibly his only hope being Deco to start, so that the ginger nut won’t be the only once great, now not quite great midfielder who can’t tackle on show.
Now while all this should be the cue for Scholes to score twice, set up another and solve a murder mystery during Sunday’s game I’m sticking to my guns. I’m going for United’s midfield to get their arses handed to them even more effectively than Lucas and Mascherano did a few weeks back and the home side to win 3-1.
Enjoy the weekend folks, JJ, ODF