Manchester United – Chelsea: Preview

Sundays game at Old Trafford will pretty much decide the title in the EPL this year.  This game will be Chelsea’s cup final this year.  It is a must win for Chelsea and a draw does them no good.

Chelsea will probably be playing Ancelotti’s christmas tree formation which he found success with in April 2010 when his side won 2-1 at Old Trafford.  Ancelotti will most likely this time go for Mikel as a holding midfielder allowing Lampard and Essien to move higher up the pitch.  Ancelotti already made the mistake this year in the first leg of the Champions League by not including Mikel in the starting lineup, and he will be of very big importance because United will be playing a 4-4-1-1 with Rooney dropping in between the back 4 and the midfielders to pick up the ball.  Mikel will be there to break up Rooney’s influence on the game.  As we saw last week when Arsenal beat Manchester United Alex Song was used to great effect at picking up Rooney when he moves into those areas and staying goalside of him to cut off the supply.  Chelsea will might consider playing how they started against Tottenham last week with Torres up top and Drogba supporting on the right but I feel the team outlined above is much more suited against United.  Another selection issue is choosing between Kalou and Anelka but on current form I think he will choose Kalou to fill the rightside of the 2.

Manchester United will play their usual 4-4-1-1 they have been playing in most of 2011.  A couple selection issues they will have is choosing between O’Shea or Rafael at rightback.  But O’Shea is much more consistent that Rafael, but Rafael on current form could also be selected.  They also could choose Park over Nani on the left to limit Chelsea’s supply to Ivanovic.  Manchester United are extremely good at cutting off the supply and limiting the effectiveness of the oppositions fullbacks.  Look for Valencia and Hernandez to get into the space behind Ashley Cole as he looks to get forward and exploit that against Chelsea.  United haven’t lost at Old Trafford in any competition in the 10-11 season, and the last loss coming in April 2010 to Chelsea.

The key battle on Sunday will come from Mikel and Rooney on who is more dominant in that area of the pitch, whoever wins that battle will have a better chance at winning this game.  Also if it is deadlocked and getting close to the end Chelsea will look to bring on Torres and Anelka and move to a 4-4-2 with a diamond midfield to try and take this game.

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Roma – Inter: Seperated by Stankovic wonder strike

Roma played Inter Milan in the first leg of the Coppa Italia semi-final in Rome, where they were defeated twice in a row.  Leonardo playing a lopsided 4-2-3-1 and Roma fielding their usual 4-4-2.  Roma just being bought by an American and being the first Italian club owned by a non-Italian this was their first look.  Throughout the game Roma were trying to exploit the space behind Maicon as he would move forward, and when he did move forward Zanetti would fill in. Their plan was successful and in the first 10 minutes Inter lost possession in the midfield and with Maicon out of position Borriello was found in the space on the right side  and played a ball to Vucinic who debateldy has the miss of the season with a tap in shanked wide.  Another key battle in the game was Roma being able to pick up the runs of Stankovic, Sneijder, and Cambiasso.  Which Roma dealt with fairly well on the evening, with exception of the goal.  Cambiasso found Stankovic making a good run forward and Stankovic with another one of his classic volleys put Inter ahead 1-0  Another thing of mention was Taddei’s pressing of Inter’s fullback Nagatoma.  Everytime Nagatoma received the ball out of the back Taddei was pressing him for the ball and alot of times Nagatomo would give away the ball.  Another key battle was Nagatoma having to deal with the runs of Taddei and Cassetti and Pandev not doing well in tracking back.  Roma put alot of dangerous crosses in the their right side.  In the 82′ Inter subbed out Pandev for the young Nigerian Obi, who did a better job and picking up the forward runs than Pandev had.

Montella probably won the tactical battle but lost to a brilliant goal by Stankovic.  Roma who won’t be in Europe next season and seem to be lacking alot of confidence at the moment are in serious trouble.  With an aging squad and alot of unsettled players Roma need to do something quick.  The new American owners have alot to contemplate over the summer to revitalize this Roma team.

Tottenham – Arsenal

Here is a classic example of the 4-4-2 being picked apart by the 4-2-3-1 formation.  The numbers down in the midfield make it hard to pick up the extra man in the midfield.  Not only that the defending for the first goal was pretty poor.

Tottenham - Arsenal 1

Here you will see Arsenals midfielder in Green and Tottenham’s midfielders in purple.  In a 4-4-2 it is important for the midfielders to hold, an advantage of the 4-3-3 is they have a true holding midfielder who can break up the attacks of an attacking midfielder, but in this case Fabregas can turn when he recieves the ball and pick Tottenham’s high line apart.

Here you can see Tottenham’s back four outlined in purple.  While Gallas comes out he is turned far too easy.  Tottenham is caught very flat in the back here with Assou-Ekotto holding the run of Walcott onside.   Walcott makes a good diagonal run behind Michael Dawson, and finishes the through ball with an easy finish.   An argument could be made that had Tottenham tried to play a 4-5-1/4-2-3-1 this goal could of probably been prevented.