Club Focus – Manchester United – Continued poor away form sets up crunch clash with Chelsea

A few months ago the match between Manchester United and Arsenal at the Emirates looked like it could be a classic title decider. It may yet prove to be, except not for Arsenal. Having fallen away in recent games, the Gunners were playing mainly for pride and to help neighbours Chelsea. The victory for Arsene Wenger’s side not only broke a run of seven straight games without victory against United but also set up next week’s clash at Old Trafford with Chelsea as a crucial match in the destination of the Premier League crown.

Like so many times this season Sir Alex Ferguson’s side were unable to succeed away from home. Their record on the road in the league this season reads won five, drawn nine and lost four. Their points haul of 24 points away from Old Trafford this season is the lowest in the top four. They will need to take all three points at Blackburn Rovers, their final away game of the season, to finally bury Chelsea’s title challenge, even if the Blues are beaten next weekend.

However, one minor bright spot for United fans after losing at Arsenal is knowing that, even if Chelsea win all their remaining games two victories for United would bring the title down to goal difference. While Chelsea have Everton away from home on the final day of the season, a tough trip at the best of times, United could hope to rack up some goals against relegations strugglers Blackburn and Blackpool. Should it come down to goal difference, Ferguson will no doubt send out a side in search of blood. Most of this season, United have displayed a ‘get the job done’ attitude but the final two games could be a throwback to the rampaging days of the 1999 treble.

Before looking towards the goal difference column, United fans will be hoping that the teams incredible home form will stand up against Carlo Ancelotti’s side. Only West Bromwich Albion have taken anything from Old Trafford this season and Ferguson’s men beat Chelsea there less than a month ago in the Champions League. Despite the return of David Luiz to the centre of defence, Ferguson will be demanding a repeat performance to quell a nail-biting finish. Nevertheless Chelsea are in fantastic form and they were the last side to take anything from Old Trafford before the Baggies when they all-but-wrapped up the title last season by winning 2-1.

With a two goal away cushion established against Schalke 04 a number of first team players will likely be rested mid-week in order to try and negate Chelsea’s advantage in that department as much as possible. The likes of Dimitar Berbatov, Chris Smalling and Rafael Da Silva, who have all played very little in the last month due to injury or competition for places, will be in contention to take on the German side. Although the threat of Raul and company still needs to be taken seriously, the major obstacle in front of United now is in the shape of Didier Drogba and his teammates.

Related posts

Leave a Comment