Date:Sunday November 8 2009
United have next to no chance at Stamford Bridge today, it has to be said. Chelsea are in form while we are not, the game will be played at a stadium we have a terrible record in and we won't have our first-choice back four available.
But if we want a little hope of getting something out of this game, I believe 4-4-2 must be forgotten and we'll have to try and shatter Chelsea's diamond. That means a three-man midfield with Carrick, Anderson and Fletcher, with the latter two doing the running and closing down which proved our downfall at Anfield.
This of course brings a problem as well: who should be left out of the front four of Giggs, Berbatov, Rooney and Valencia? I don't expect Fergie to get to the same conclusion but I would leave Giggs out, quite simply because he does not have the legs, the stamina to start at Stamford Bridge. There's another reason, too: playing Giggs would mean Fergie would play Rooney as an out-and-out centre-forward which does not really suit him, as we saw against Arsenal. That should be Berbatov's job today.
Which brings us back to Giggs v Rooney: it should be Rooney. Fergie is reluctant to leave him out anyway (with good reason, of course, as he's our best player) and he would be able to threaten from wide positions, as he demonstrated so often last season. It's not his favourite nor his most effective role on the pitch but we can't expect to dominate the midfield against Chelsea and he could be easily marked out of the game as a second striker if the midfield do not provide enough support.
And that's why, in my opinion, 4-4-2 is not the way to go today. 4-4-2 would mean that in order to cover the defence we should surrender a positive attitude to the game: either Fletcher or Carrick would have to stay behind at all times, ready to choke the space in which Lampard operates while the other would be left to struggle against Essien, Ballack and presumably Deco. Rooney and Berbatov would be starved of service, just as they were at Anfield. A three-man midfield might represent a more negative formation than 4-4-2 but it would allow a more positive mindset and that, in my opinion, is more important.
Date:Sunday November 8 2009
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