United were humbled in Rome back in May and outfought at Anfield a fortnight ago – hopefully the old ‘third time lucky’ saying can apply tomorrow. United have been subjected to an element of stage fright in the big games since the superb 3-1 victory over Arsenal last May and is important that this stops tomorrow. United’s midfield has been put under the microscope on both occasions – with a lack of shape or urgency being cited as the problem.
Along with other bloggers I was surprised that Anderson was omitted from the starting Xi against Liverpool. His drive, ball winning technique and stamina was pivotal against a side that operate in a 4-2-3-1 formation with two ‘destroyers’ occupying the space in front of the back four. It was in fact these two destroyers (Lucas and Mascherano) that put pressure on Scholes and Carrick – which restricted the service to Berbatov and Rooney. Scholes found Valencia a couple of times – however the general consensus is that United were lacked urgency due to the closing down of the two Liverpool players. This allowed Benayon to float ahead and ultimately set up the important first goal for Torres.
If Anderson had of been playing – United would have matched up Liverpool like for like and considering that midfield trio is technically superior to the Liverpool midfield – I believe we would have put in a much better performance that day. The pressure was on Liverpool to perform at home and they succeeded in getting a result – but truth be told, they were there for the taking and we fluffed our lines.
Of course Fletcher was a big miss – regardless of what some fans (non-Reds) think of him. He has grown in stature and is regarded now as one of the first names on the team sheet. I expect him to line up tomorrow – i’m hoping for a midfield consisting of Anderson and Carrick. I know Carrick isn’t flavour of the month at the moment – but I think with a third man in midfield he will be able to find space and switch play as he does so gracefully sometimes. Games do pass him by sometimes and I have a feeling he will never realise his full potential until he starts to stamp his authority on games and control things with his sublime passing and vision.
Valencia and Rooney could occupy the wings with Berbatov up front holding the ball up allowing Anderson and Fletcher to get forward and support. Cole will bomb forward, which will mean defensive duties at times for Valencia but Rooney shouldn’t be too worried at the galloping pace of Ivanovic as Bosingwa is out injured. Chelsea will most probably play a 4-1-3-2 – with Michael Essien occupying the defensive midfielder role. Lampard will be given license to roam forward – which is why Anderson, who can win the ball deep and start a counter attack is vital to tomorrow’s game.
At the back – the big debate who over who will partner Vidic – Evans or Brown. I’d like to see Evans partner Nemanja as I think he will become a superb centre half and he has a chance now to cement his place in the side after rumours emerged regarding the fitness of Rio Ferdinand. Wes Brown – for me – is a quality, quality defender – who is versatile as he can play at centre half or full back. His injuries have hindered his progress immensely over the years and I honest believe he would have been as good as Ferdinand – had he been a bit luckier.
So how would you like to line up? 4-4-2/4-3-3/4-2-3-1? For any Chelsea fans reading this – will you play you normal style? Lastly, any predictions? I’m going for a 1-1 draw.