Chelsea (Kalou 80′) 1-1 Manchester United (Park 18′)
Stadium: Stamford Bridge, London, England
Date: Sunday 21 September 2008
Competition: Premier League
Kick off: 13:00 GMT, 9:00 ET
Manchester United and Chelsea scrapped and clawed their way to a hard-fought 1-1 draw. Soccerlens had the action live! Click below for the live blog.
In terms of trophies, Chelsea and Manchester United have been the two best teams in the Premiership over the last few seasons. Last year, Chelsea came up short to Manchester United in both the Premiership and in the Champions League. Revenge will be foremost on their minds as Manchester United visit Stamford Bridge.
Last season, Manchester United lost a memorable contest at Stamford Bridge which allowed Chelsea to pull even with them in the standings. This season, Chelsea have gotten off to a great start, as new signees Deco and Jose Bosingwa have meshed beautifully with last season’s holdovers. Chelsea have been on a roll as of late, winning impressively at Manchester City last weekend and then thrashing Bordeaux in a midweek Champions League clash. Chelsea also got a boost when John Terry’s red card against Manchester City was overturned, allowing him to play in this important match. Additionally, Didier Drogba should be fit after battling injuries to start the season, and Michael Ballack should also be available after proving his fitness during the Bordeaux match. Chelsea also have history on their side as Manchester United have not won at Stamford Bridge since the 2001-2002 season.
Manchester United come into this fixture with renewed optimism despite a slow start to their season. After losing at Anfield last weekend for the first time in seven years, Manchester United were held to a scoreless draw at Old Trafford by Villarreal on Wednesday. New singing Dimitar Berbatov will be a game-time decision, and Nemanja Vidic is suspended after accumulating two yellow cards in the Liverpool match. However, the return of Cristiano Ronaldo during the Villarreal match really energized the team and it’s not a stretch to say that Manchester United played their best football of the season during his 30 minute cameo on Wednesday. With Ronaldo back in the fold, Manchester United feel like they can get back to their normal place on top of the standings. Beating Chelsea at Stamford Bridge would be a great way to accomplish that.
It’s football at its finest. If you can’t get excited for this match, then I don’t know what to say.
Chelsea: Cech, Bosingwa, Carvalho, Terry (c), A. Cole, Mikel, J. Cole, Ballack, Lampard, Malouda, Anelka.
Subs: Cudicini, Bridge, Belletti, Alex, Kalou, Drogba.
Who would have thought that Chelsea would become so predictable? Scolari’s used this lineup for three straight matches now. Anelka continues to start in place of Drogba, although I’d bet we’ll see the Ivorian at some point. Ballack still sits, although given the way this lineup has played, you can’t blame Scolari for keeping the midfield intact.
Manchester United: Van der Sar, Neville (c), Ferdinand, Evans, Evra, Fletcher, Hargreaves, Scholes, Park, Berbatov, Rooney.
Subs: Kuszczak, Brown, Giggs, Tevez, Ronaldo, Nani, O’Shea.
After hearing all week that Ronaldo would start and Berbatov would probably miss out, Sir Alex has once again pulled the wool over our eyes. Neville will make his first start of the season and it will be Evans starting in Vidic’s place, not Brown or O’Shea. It’s a big spot for the youngster, so we’ll see how he responds. Ferguson has a lot of firepower sitting on the bench, so if Man Utd. are even or behind late, then you can bet that we’ll see the likes of Tevez, Ronaldo, and Nani.
90′ + 4 Long ball to Drogba in the box and he collides with Ferdinand. Ref blows the whistle and we’re waiting for the ref to make his decision. Ref says the match is over and that’s that.
90′ + 3 Ronaldo gets it on the edge of the box and he does the bicycle kick that gets easily saved by Cech.
90′ + 2 Ronaldo gets booked for dissent. Hargreaves whips the cross into the box and Terry clears it away.
90′ + 1 Great cross into the box for Drogba. He’s got a great chance, but he pushes his header just wide. Rooney thought he was pushed, and it looked like he was. Corner is cleared away by Man Utd.
90′ Three minutes will be added on. Neville has a throw-in deep in Chelsea territory. He sends it out to Rooney. Neville gets it back and crosses it into the box for Ronaldo. He can’t get his head on it, and Chelsea clear it away.
89′ Cross into the box for Anelka. His header is weak and Kuszczak takes it. What a nightmare match for Anelka.
88′ Kalou finds Lampard in the middle. Lampard tries to get cute with the back-heel, and Man Utd. clear it away.
87′ Drogba gets called for the foul in the box and this one is getting ugly. Rooney plays it to Fletcher, who makes the run down the right. He sends a cross/shot that Cech easily takes.
86′ Evra gets card #6 which means they’ll have to make a donation to the F.A.
84′ Fletcher sends it through to Ronaldo. Ronaldo makes the move into the box and he lays it off to the left to Fletcher. Fletcher uncorks the hard shot and it knocks the wind out of Alex.
82′ Chelsea on the break as Joe Cole’s pass goes to Kalou. Kalou has another chance, but it’s out for the corner. Lampard’s corner goes out to Drogba, and he sets up from outside the box. His shot is blocked by Rooney.
81′ Man Utd. restart quickly and Evra wins a corner. Hargreaves corner is knocked out by Chelsea for another one. Corner goes to Berbatov in the box, but his shot is blocked.
80′ GOAL! Mikel sends it into the box and Kalou heads it past Kuszczak for the goal. It looks like Kalou just slipped past the defense as they just forgot about him.
79′ Rooney with a late challenge on A. Cole and he gets booked.
78′ Ronaldo with a great run down the left. He crosses it to Berbatov in the box. It goes past him and Rooney tries the shot from the right side, but it’s wide. Chelsea immediately come back the other way, and Kalou’s shot is blocked by the Man Utd. defense. Rooney gets it and gives it away with a poor long-ball effort. Anelka then tries the long-range shot and it’s over the bar. Don’t turn away, folks. This one is just heating up.
77′ Rooney crosses it to Ronaldo on the other side of the box. Ronaldo tries to head it on target, but it’s too high for him and he can’t get the shot off.
76′ Joe Cole catches Ferdinand with a late tackle and he escapes a booking. Rooney takes exception and he starts talking to the ref at his own peril. He doesn’t get carded, either. That would have been a huge talking point if Rooney had been booked but not Joe Cole.
75′ Ballack comes off for Kalou while Man Utd. sub out Park for John O’Shea.
74′ Free kick for Chelsea as Joe Cole gets fouled. Ballack is going to come off, but they want to wait until after the free kick because Ballack is such a threat in the air. Alex’s free kick comes off the wall and Ballack has a chance on the rebound. It’s wide of the mark and Man Utd. escape again.
73′ I have no idea how Chelsea didn’t score here. Joe Cole finds him with a brilliant cross and Anelka is completely alone in front of goal. He takes his eye off the ball and misses it completely. It goes behind him and Evans clears it away.
72′ Bosingwa with a nice cross into the box for Anelka. Anelka is well defended by Ferdinand, and Anelka’s effort doesn’t have the strength or accuracy to test Kuszczak. Ronaldo comes back down the left flank, but Bosingwa tackles him and takes it away.
70′ Long ball to Anelka on the left flank, but this time Neville gets on his horse and gets there first. Kalou looks like he’ll be coming in.
69′ Hargreaves sends it in but Chelsea clear it away. Ronaldo gets it back and his cross is taken by Terry. Terry mis-hits it, and Man Utd. have another chance. Long cross to Berbatov in the box, but Alex is there to defend it. Terry with the errant back-pass, but Cech clears it away.
68′ I think we all know who’s taking this one. It’s Ronaldo and it catches Mikel on the arm. No call from the ref and Man Utd. have a corner.
67′ Nothing doing on the corner. Back the other way as Mikel catches Ronaldo on the edge of the box and Mikel gets booked. This will be a great chance for Man Utd. here. Will it be Ronaldo or Hargreaves?
66′ Joe Cole with another great opportunity as he looks off-sides. He’s alone with the keeper, but Kuszczak makes the save. Man Utd. knock it out for the corner and once again Cole blows a great chance.
65′ A. Cole with a good tackle on Ronaldo that brings a roar from the crowd.
63′ Bad sequence for Neville as he gives it away with a poor cross and then he reacts late after it comes back towards his way as Ballack makes the run down the left. It’s out for the goal-kick and I think it’s time that Brown comes on.
62′ Lampard’s service into the box hits Joe Cole awkwardly, and Man Utd. clear it away. Meanwhile, Ronaldo takes his first dive of the season as Lampard gets called for the foul.
61′ Ashley Cole with the great run down the left, but Ferdinand is there to knock it away for the throw. Ballack then gets fouled by Fletcher from about 35 yards out. Lampard will have a good chance here.
60′ Berbatov shoves Ballack to the ground and he gets carded.
59′ Ronaldo skips towards the Chelsea goal and finds Rooney on the right edge of the box. Rooney falls and loses the ball, but that attack looked dangerous.
58′ Anelka burns Neville down the left flank and Neville retaliates by taking out Anelka. Neville gets booked. Lampard’s free kick is towards Alex on the far post. Alex’s header is easily handled by Kuszczak.
57′ Apparently, Park will move to the left and Fletcher will move into central midfield to accommodate Ronaldo. Ronaldo takes the long-range shot after getting the ball from Rooney. It’s off the mark for the goal kick.
56′ Mikel dribbles it towards the box and Man Utd. seem content to let him take the shot. Mikel fires weakly on goal and Kuszczak takes it easily. Well, now we see why they were so keen to let him shoot. Ballack tries to thread the through-ball to Lampard, but it’s long for the goal-kick.
55′ Ronaldo comes on and Scholes comes off.
54′ J. Cole tries to thread the through-ball to Lampard, but Scholes is there to knock it away. J. Cole sends in the ball to Drogba in the box, but it’s long and it goes out for the goal-kick.
53′ J. Cole’s pass goes off Evans for the corner. Lampard sends it in and Rooney slides in towards Mikel and wins it. Rooney attacks and lays it off to Berbatov. Berbatov sends it to Park and Park takes the bad shot that’s way over the bar. Clearly, that goal in the first half has gone to his head.
52′ A. Cole with a poor cross into the box towards Drogba and it’s out for the goal-kick. Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo takes off his shirt. Is it just me, or does that boy love to go around shirtless? Then again, if I had those abs, I’d look for any excuse to take off my shirt, too.
51′ On the restart, A. Cole crosses into the box to Drogba. Kuszczak comes out and he gets fouled by Drogba.
50′ Anelka tries to get past Gary Neville, but he can’t. His cross into the box then gets knocked out for the throw.
49′ Ballack with the cross into the box to Drogba from the left flank. It’s over Drogba’s head, though, and Man Utd. have a throw-in.
48′ Should be interesting to see Anelka and Drogba play together. It was clear that they wanted to do that last season, but Avram Grant got so much crap for pairing them together for the first time during the Carling Cup Final that he never did it again. Anelka gets it in the box and has has all kinds of time. He sends it Joe Cole, who then mishits it and loses the golden opportunity. Man Utd.’s defense seemed surprisingly passive there.
47′ First touch by Drogba and Evra takes it away. Drogba comes back and fouls him. Well, that was quick.
46′ Drogba looks like he’s coming in. Not yet, though, as Chelsea kick off while Drogba is still on the sideline. Now here he comes as, apparently, he was wearing a bracelet and the ref wanted him to take it off. Can’t make this stuff up. Malouda is the man that comes off.
46′ A couple of goalkeeping notes. I’m torn on the Van der Sar thing. I think it was poor sportsmanship for him to go down onto the pitch just to stop play. Then again, if he was really hurt, then Man Utd. should be able to sub him out. Secondly, they showed the replay of the Park goal, and I don’t know how hard Berbatov’s shot was, but it looked like Cech really should have held on to it.
Not much between the two superpowers as we head into the second half. Manchester United came flying out of the gate and really controlled play before taking the lead. Chelsea stormed back and really dominated the action in the latter part of the first half. As with any war, this one has its share of casualties as Carvalho and Van der Sar have already come off and Deco didn’t even make it to kick-off. Plus, there have been numerous individual skirmishes, most notably, between Paul Scholes and Michael Ballack, and between Ashley Cole and Owen Hargreaves. The second half should be extremely interesting as both sides have some big guns at their disposal.
45′ + 3 Ballack with the strong shot from outside the box that looks like it nearly takes a deflection off Evans. Kuszczak saves it, though. Bosingwa gets free in the box and tries to cross it towards Lampard deep in the box, but Kuszczak is there to grab it. There’s the whistle and we’re at halftime.
45′ + 2 Rooney with a great tackle to dispossess Terry in the Chelsea half of the field. Rooney gives it to Berbatov, who lays it off to Park. Park moves around in the box and uncorks it, but it bounces off Ballack.
45′ + 1 Three minutes will be added on. Mikel plays it to Anelka in the box, but Evans is there to head it away.
44′ Bosingwa with a great move on Park to get open. His shot gets deflected out and Chelsea knock it forward to Malouda, who is clearly off-sides. He goes for the bicycle kick anyway and Kuszczak actually makes a great save to keep it out. It wouldn’t have counted, but a nice sequence nonetheless.
42′ Lampard sends it deep to A. Cole, who gets beaten to the ball by Hargreaves. A. Cole slides into Hargreaves and Hargreaves wants the foul while A. Cole wants the corner and I want a million dollars. None of us get our wishes.
41′ Lampard plays it through to Anelka, who looked off-sides, but no call. Anelka goes it alone, even though he has teammates around him. Kuszczak cuts off the angle and Anelka’s shot goes over the bar. Ferdinand then gets a yellow for dissent, no doubt arguing that Anelka was off-sides.
40′ Alex with the hard shot from outside the box and Kuszczak makes the save but can’t hold on. Rio Ferdinand is there to knock it away, otherwise Anelka would have scored. Lampard’s corner goes to Terry, but the header is well over the crossbar.
39′ Lampard with a good pass to Anelka into the box. He lays it off to Bosingwa, who whips the cross into the box, but Kuszczak intercepts it.
38′ Malouda’s cross into the box from the left flank is dangerous, but it’s behind Joe Cole, who has to track back to get to it. It goes to Lampard, who tries the shot from the edge of the box. It’s deflected towards goal, but Kuszczak handles it easily. Lot of pressure from Chelsea these last few minutes.
37′Scholes with the handball and Ballack shoves him away well after the whistle blew. I can’t believe Ballack didn’t get a card for that.
36′ Lampard’s free kick goes into the box towards Alex. He heads it weakly on goal and Kuszczak handles it easily.
35′ Chelsea on the attack again. Scholes kicks Ballack from behind and now he’s booked. Well, you knew it was coming
34′ Stout defending by Man Utd. to protect Kuszczak. Evra with a great move to cut out a pass and Rooney, who seems to love playing defense, clears it away.
33′ Kuszczak is on for Man Utd.
31′ Chelsea on the attack and Terry leads the charge. The ball comes off Scholes and bounces towards Lampard and Joe Cole. Van der Sar comes out to grab it, but he mishandles it. Man Utd. knock it out for the throw and Chelsea try to take it quickly, but Van der Sar goes down to the ground and asks to be substituted. Chelsea fans are upset, and so is Ferdinand, who tells Van der Sar that he needs to think.
30′ Lampard goes long-post for Anelka, but it goes over the line for a goal-kick. Van der Sar calls Ferdinand over to kick it away, and it looks like Van der Sar isn’t long for this game.
29′ Tempers flare between Mikel and Berbatov. The barometer is starting to rise, considerably at Stamford Bridge. Riley better get control of this match. Now Ashley Cole is down after taking an elbow to the mouth from Hargreaves. Hargreaves does stick out his arm, but it looks like he barely grazed Cole’s face. Free kick to Chelsea.
27′ Interesting sequence as the ball gets played long to Malouda in the box. Neville heads it, but it goes right to Malouda. Malouda gets taken out in the box by Van der Sar (who, in all fairness, looks like he got mostly ball), but no penalty. Van der Sar is down Kuszczak is warming up now.
26′ Nice back-pass by Evans, who was under a lot of pressure from Anelka near the touchline.
25′ Ballack gets the pass deep in Man Utd. territory, but Fletcher knocks it away for the throw. Throw goes to Malouda, who’s covered, but Hargreaves knocks it away for the corner. Lampard tests Van der Sar again on the corner, but this time Van der Sar handles it easily.
22′ Ballack gets called for the foul on Scholes. Ballack takes exception, but he doesn’t go jawing with the ref like he would have last season. R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
20′ Lampard’s corner causes Van der Sar to come out for it. He swings and misses but, luckily for him, Chelsea can’t take advantage. Otherwise, Man Utd. fans would be calling for Kuszczak.
19′ Joe Cole back the other way and his shot is deflected out by Ferdinand for the corner.
18′GOAL! Rooney plays the great through-ball to Evra, who makes a great run to get it back. Evra sends it back to Berbatov, who shoots it. It’s saved by Cech, but Park is there to put it back in for the goal!
17′ Hargreaves’ corner is cleared by Chelsea and here they go on the break. Rooney tracks all the way back and intercepts the pass.
16′ A. Cole tries to catch United off guard with a quick run down the left on the restart. Hargreaves sees it and gets in front of Cole to make sure he can’t do any damage. Berbatov finds Rooney. He makes a good move to create space in the box and picks out Ferdinand running to his right. Ferdinand’s shot is good, but Cech saves it for the corner.
14′ Berbatov tries the ill-advised shot and it’s easily blocked. He seems a little too eager to get off the schnide for his new team. Chelsea goes on the break and Malouda’s long-range shot is well over the bar.
13′ Carvalho comes off and here comes Alex.
11′ Bosingwa with a dangerous cross deep into the box. Neville chests it down to Van der Sar. Ashley Cole takes out Hargreaves but no call and now Hargo is down on the pitch.
10′ Apparently, Carvalho is hurting. That’s bad news for Chelsea. Carvalho is their best central defender (and yes, that includes JT). Alex is already warming up.
9′ Cech comes out of the box to kick it away. It’s a poor effort and Cech is caught out of his box. Berbatov tries to lob it in over Cech and it goes to Rooney. Rooney tries to deflect it in and it’s just wide of the post. Back the other way and Joe Cole has a one-on-one chance as Evra falls down after the long goal-kick from Cech. Cole has a golden opportunity and should have scored, but he hits the side of the net.
8′ Bosingwa crosses into the box for Anelka, but it goes over his head. Scholes then hits Ballack with the late challenge, and Riley calls Scholes over and gives him a talking to.
5′ Berbatov tries the long-range shot. It goes off Terry and it’s back to Berbatov. He finds Hargreaves, who has room on the right side. He picks out Fletcher with a great cross, but Carvalho is there to make it difficult for Fletcher to aim his shot. It goes out for the goal kick.
3′ Chelsea pass it around and Scholes takes down Joe Cole for our first foul of the match. Park then slides into the Joe Cole and Park is called for the foul. Rude greeting for Joe Cole, huh?
1′ Man Utd. will kick off and here we go! Hold on to your seats! Mike Riley is the ref, so that should be interesting. Fletcher takes an early shot (he is their leading goalscorer, after all) and he hits Berbatov in the back.
0′ LATE UPDATE: Deco is out after picking up an injury in warm-ups. Ballack will start in his place.
0′ They’re showing clips from last season’s match from Stamford Bridge. I think Sheva’s clearance on Fletcher’s header might have been the only good thing Sheva did for Chelsea last season.
0′ I know Chelsea fans think this one is in the bag, but here’s one reason why Man Utd. fans should feel good. Petr Cech has a spotty history in big matches. Look no further than Euro 2008, as well as high-profile miscues against Man Utd. and Liverpool last season.
0′ I’m surprised Wes Brown isn’t starting at either right-back or center-back. Neville is still playing his way into shape and Evans is inexperienced. Maybe he picked up a knock in training or something. I hope he isn’t being punished for the own goal last weekend at Anfield. That was more Van der Sar’s fault than Brown’s.
0′ Hello everyone! It’s Victor and we’ve got a huge match today. Based on current form, I can’t see any way Chelsea will lose this match. However, Man Utd. are certainly due for a win at Stamford Bridge, and, as we saw at Anfield last weekend, streaks are made to be broken.
In the end, Chelsea’s unbeaten streak at home is intact as Man Utd. fail to hold on to their early lead. Chelsea had more opportunities late and probably should have equalized before Kalou’s goal. Nevertheless, Sir Alex Ferguson’s charges will lament the dropped points and still have many questions to answer about their inability to score. Having Ronaldo back in the fold will help them, but they need to start playing well soon. Otherwise, they’ll be playing catch-up for a long time.
As for Chelsea, they can’t help but be pleased with their effort today. They didn’t give up after Park’s opener and can take heart in the fact that Joe Cole blew a couple of chances and Anelka whiffed on his chance late in the second half. Carvalho’s injury is a concern, and Drogba still isn’t all the way back. Otherwise, it was a great effort for Scolari’s boys as they really showed what they are made of.
Man of the Match:
Rio Ferdinand and Jose Bosingwa
There were a lot of big names on the pitch today. Rooney, Lampard, Joe Cole, Berbatov, Ballack, Ashley Cole, Ronaldo, Scholes. They all had relatively quiet games, particularly Lampard and Berbatov. Ferdinand was, once again, a warrior on defense and really protected the goal, especially during a key sequence in the first half when Van der Sar got injured and Kuszczak came into the game. With their defensive frailties on display with the untested Evans, the injured Van der Sar, and the not-yet in-shape Neville, Ferdinand (and to a lesser extent, Evra) really stepped up. As for Bosingwa, you can see why both of these teams were after him. His defensive abilities were on full display (even though he made the mistake on the first goal), but his crossing on offense really made him a threat.