Those Five Wins Over Chelsea!
As you probably know, Chelsea visit Old Trafford on Sunday. And as widely known, they are one of the least liked visitors at Old Trafford: since the Premiership is called the Premiership, we only won five home league games against them. A bogey team if ever was one.
1992/93: Manchester United 3-0 Chelsea
Unforgettable season and in a sense an unforgettable game though many forgot it. Few remember the fact that Chelsea were already somewhat of a bogey team of ours back then and there was much apprehension among the fans that another bad result could derail the title bid as the season was approaching the finish line. Yet the fears were unfounded as it turned out to be a stroll in the April sunshine. Eric Cantona scored the opener and was terrorising Chelsea with his usual grace and composure. Mark Hughes added the second before an own goal finished Chelsea off and United were closing in on our first league title since 1967.
1999/2000: Manchester United 3-2 Chelsea
Yes, seven whole years, with six league titles landed, elapsed since the last victory over them. Royal pain in the... backside, aren't they?
This was a strange game, this one. United were already champions and neither team really got out of second gear. Stretford End was busy celebrating another title, the journalists focused on the proposed signing of Ruud van Nistelrooy (which would later collapse of course) but the Reds had enough in the tank to see off a disappointing Chelsea team with Yorke netting a brace. Both teams displayed terrible defending, Ed de Goey had a mare but for the second half Chelsea simply did not turn up and United came back from behind to win the game with a fair degree of comfort.
2002/2003: Manchester United 2-1 Chelsea
A crucial game, one that set United up for snatching the title from Arsenal's grasp. But it looked like that bid might collapse as in the first 20 minutes the visitors totally dominated, played with stunning guile and went ahead with a well-crafted goal by Eidur Gudjohnsen. A stroke of luck was required for the equaliser as Cudicini cleared a backpass right to David Beckham whose cross landed on Paul Scholes's head and the little ginger ninja headed home.
The second half was incredible entertaining as Zola hit the post, Van Nistelrooy had a header saved incredibly by Cudicini and Arsenal were rubbing their hands as a draw loomed. And then in the 94th minute Veron launched a long ball towards Forlan who fired a first-time shot into the top corner of the net and proceeded to celebrate wildly, shirt thrown into the crowd and everything. Diego Forlan might not have set Old Trafford on fire but his brace at Anfield and this goal will always be fondly remembered.
2005/06: Manchester United 1-0 Chelsea
United were at their lowest ebb since the disastrous ending to the 1994/95 season. We looked like crashing out of the Champions League, were far off the pace in the league, it was not long after the infamous Roy Keane interview but six days before his abrupt removal. We were in the midst of an injury crisis, the team was suffering from a confidence crisis... things looked bleak as the in-form reigning Champions came to visit.
And the much-maligned, written off team of ours produced a performance of character and determination which was epithomised by Darren Fletcher's display: many felt that the Scottish youngster simply wasn't up to playing in a team of Manchester United's quality but he was defiant that night, tackling everyone, everywhere and scoring the only, admittedly freak, goal of the game. Chelsea turned the proceedings into one-way traffic in the second half but could not find a way past a United side which played as if the players' lives were at stake.
2007/08: Manchester United 2-0 Chelsea
Unnecessary to bore you with long recollections, isn't it? It was a little more than a year ago, right after Mourinho's departure. The essentially boring Avram Grant took over and looked like frozen in the headlights at Old Trafford as his team simply failed to turn up. United dominated and should have had a penalty early on, then Obi Mikel was sent off maybe somewhat harshly which just about ended Chelsea's chances of winning. Tevez punished them with his first United goal then Saha's penalty sealed the deserved victory for United in a season which culminated in another game against Chelsea...