League leaders Chelsea, will be visiting Old Trafford this Sunday to face a struggling Manchester United side. The team managed by Louis van Gaal has not yet faced any of the England’s elite teams in the Premier League.
The coming couple of weeks are going to be difficult for them, as they will be playing host to Chelsea followed by a short trip to local rivals Manchester City next Sunday in the first Manchester Derby of the season. Their clash against Man City, however, is not much of our concern. But before the game this Sunday, it is important for us to analyze our opponent.
THE TEAM AND THE RECENT FORM:
The red half of Manchester has not seen much of the celebrations this season and the previous season as well, which they have been used to during the Ferguson era. Sir Alex Ferguson, moved on to become the club director and ambassador after his retirement at the end of 2012-13 season. He chose David Moyes as his successor. The then Everton manager, thus replaced Sir Alex at Old Trafford on a six-year contract in July 2013. But he was sacked after a short period of 10 months when the club failed to defend their Premier League title and failed miserably to qualify for the Champions League for the first time since the 1995-96 season.
In May 2014, it was confirmed that Louis van Gaal would replace Moyes as the United manager with Ryan Giggs as his assistant. Due to the unstable managerial position and no prominent coach, United have struggled to get back to their form with which, at one time, they used to rule the Premier League. This season, The Red Devils are sitting in 6th place with 12 points from 8 matches played (10 points less than Chelsea) which include 3 wins, 3 draws and 2 losses. Their last game in the Premier League was an away match against West Brom, which ended in a 2-2 stalemate.
FORMATION AND STYLE OF PLAY:
Sir Alex was always known to play his team in a classic 4-4-2 formation during his tenure at Old Trafford, except for difficult matches against big opponents, when he would switch to a more defensive 4-5-1. Van Gaal, on the other hand, desperately wanted to inculcate the 3-5-2 formation in United’s game, which eventually was a flop.
As a result of which, he had to revert back to the conventional 4-4-2 diamond formation, with Wayne Rooney and Daley Blind at the tip and base of the diamond respectively. Angel Di Maria handling the left flank, whereas right side is looked after by the forward runs of right back Rafael with Ander Herrera playing more centrally on the right side of midfield. Antonio Valencia has sometimes been seen in his place due to his recent injuries.
With the arrival of the prolific Radamel Falcao, Rooney has started to play in his original No.10 position. Because of this, ex-Chelsea man, Juan Mata has been largely neglected and not given a place in starting lineup. Whereas Falcao plays as a striker alongside Robin Van Persie.
Eden Hazard will have some competition on the field in the form of Angel Di Maria. The skillful play of Di Maria, including many created chances and key passes provide stability and patience to United’s build-up play, in turn increasing their ability to hold the ball for considerable periods. Rafael’s runs down the right, provide width and energy to their game.
Although United have now started to perform, their defence seemed helplessly disoriented at the beginning of the season. Finishing is something their attack mainly lacks, although it is quite obvious, given Rooney trying to settle into his midfield role and Falcao too beginning to find his footing in the Premier League. As mentioned earlier, the team is going through improper management which makes it difficult to have a clear strategy and aim. All these factors have added up to their poor performance this season and is expected to affect their game against Chelsea as well.
HEAD TO HEAD:
Chelsea and Manchester United have faced off 163 times throughout their history. 68 of these have been won by The Red Devils, 49 have been draws while 46 have gone in the favor of the West Londoners. Though history favors Manchester United, Chelsea are still in a great position to take away all 3 points easily from Old Trafford, looking at the current forms of both the teams. LvG’s men don’t pose a big threat for us, but still the Blues can’t afford to get carried away.
Edited By: Vikram Vadiganeni