Sir Alex Ferguson is confident Manchester United’s experience will see them get a first win at Stamford Bridge in eight-and-a-half years, when they take on fellow title chasers and reigning champions Chelsea on Sunday.
Goals from Paul Scholes, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer saw United defeat Chelsea 3-0 in April 2002. Since then, United have failed to pick up a single victory at the Bridge in league or cup and scored just two goals. Ferguson told American radio station Sirius XFM: “It
There are no new injury worries for United ahead of the top of the table clash, with Ferguson believing that his players have the mentality to see off Chelsea and finally end their Stamford Bridge hoodoo. “We’ve got good players and they have all had big-game experience for years now. Their experience is very important and the desire is still there with this club,” he said.
United are starting to get into a groove and the table-toppers are full of self-belief after a convincing performance on Monday night against Arsenal. They will be hoping to take some of this confidence into Sunday’s game, which will see them have a golden opportunity to extend their lead at the top against a Chelsea team who are in poor form, picking up just three points from their last five league games.
One of United’s key players of recent, Anderson, has seen his form rewarded with a new contract that will see the young Brazilian stay until 2015. The 22-year-old’s situation couldn’t be any more contrasting to that of 12 months ago. Poor fitness, inconsistency and a bad attitude saw him offered to a variety of clubs across Europe before a cruciate knee injury in February sidelined him. Since coming back into the team in November, Anderson has been a revelation in United’s midfield; looking like the player that made such a positive impression in his first season with the club. On United’s official website he said: “This is the best club to be at and I would like to thank everyone for the great support I have received over the years. I am looking forward to winning many more trophies with this club and I am so pleased to have signed a new contract.”
Anderson isn’t the first United player to appear to come back from the brink of exit and see his form rewarded with a long-term contract; just last year Nani looked to be heading out of Old Trafford and is now one of the first names on Sir Alex Ferguson’s team-sheet. Both players could play important roles in the Red Devils maintaining their unbeaten run on Sunday, but in what formation is unclear yet.
United played their tried and tested 4-5-1 against Arsenal on Monday, but playing that way against Chelsea is a different prospect altogether. While packing the midfield with a combination of energetic running, passing vision and strength is a way of breaking up the play of a fluid team like Arsenal, it failed against Chelsea both times last season. United were unlucky to lose at Stamford Bridge, but after going behind to a debatable goal never looked like scoring. Chelsea have struggled against high-pressing, 4-4-2 formations in recent weeks and to leave Dimitar Berbatov out in another big game could demoralise the league’s top-scorer.