Aug 23

Intense North/South rivalry set for a new chapter

United v Chelsea Moscow 2008With new Chelsea manager, Jose Mourihno, set to make a third and possibly final bid to lure United’s Wayne Rooney from Manchester to London after Monday’s early season title clash, the rivalry between the two clubs looks set to increase. FA Cup encounters, League title clashes and even that special night in Moscow’s Champions League Final make this a mouthwatering fixture already.

United have enjoyed some special moments (and some not-so special moments) versus the Russian owned money train. This season Chelsea are hot favourites to land the Premier League title and United face a tough test to begin David Moyes Old Trafford record with a win. Can United under Moyes replcate some of these classic Fergie-inspired teams? Let’s begin…..

Wed, 10 March 1999 – Chelsea 0-2 UNITED (FA Cup, Quarter Final Replay)

We start way back in March 1999 where the two clubs met at Stamford Bridge in an FA Cup quarter final replay. The previous encounter had ended in a dull fought 0-0 draw at Old Trafford. The net was found this time though, twice in fact, both from deadly striker Dwight Yorke.

His first came early in the tie. Beckham’s free kick fell to Frank Leboeuf who failed to clear the ball from danger allowing Andy Cole to find his strike partner Yorke, who placed an exquisite right foot volley into the far corner. The second goal was a piece of brilliance from Dwight Yorke yet again.

Andy Cole again involved as his collision with Marcel Desailly saw the ball run for Yorke, who unopposed in through on goal deftly flighted the ball over goalkeeper Ed de Goey with outside of his boot. An outrageous finish to end the tie. United went on to win the FA Cup, defeating Newcastle at Wembley. That wasn’t the only trophy that our beloved Reds would end up with that season though…

Sat, 20 April 2001 – Chelsea 0-3 UNITED (Barclays Premier League)

After being beating by the same score line earlier in the season at Old Trafford by Claudio Ranieri’s Chelsea, it was a chance to avenge demons and extract revenge down at Stamford Bridge and oh how they achieved it.

Paul Scholes started the scoring early doors as he struck a grass-cutting thirty yard free kick past Carlo Cudicini, a terrific strike. The second from Ruud van Nistelrooy came shortly before the break as Solskjaer played in the Dutch number ten who easily rounded Chelsea’s Italian ‘keeper to side foot in to the empty net.

We weren’t finished there, late on in the afternoon it was van Nistelrooy who shook off Desailly with remarkable ease to set up Ryan Giggs. The Welsh wizard unselfishly squaring the ball for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to finish off a third and game clinching goal.

Forlan winner v ChelseaSat, 18 January 2003 – UNITED 2-1 Chelsea (Barclays Premier League)

It was the day that changed many things for Manchester United. The first being that the win kept our chances alive of bringing the Premier League trophy back home. The second being THAT man scoring another important goal in the 2002/03 season, Diego Forlan with a winner deep in to stoppage time.

Chelsea took a deserved lead at Old Trafford with a wonderful goal. French international Emmanuel Petit carving the United defence open for Eidur Gudjohnsen whose perfectly timed run was matched by a perfectly executed lift over the onrushing Fabien Barthez. But an equaliser was quickly found by the home side.

Carlo Cudicini made the error, gifting the ball to David Beckham, the best crosser of a football in the business whipped the ball straight back in for Paul Scholes who couldn’t miss from a few yards out, powering his header past the red faced Italian.

United pushed for the win and it looked as though it wouldn’t come when Ruud van Nistelrooy was denied by Cudicini, a header that looked destined for the corner was somehow figer tipped away by the Chelsea favourite. But, deep in to stoppage time, a winner was found. Juan Sebastian Veron playing a rasping pass through to our South American friend Deigo Forlan, who volleyed home spectacularly.

Sun, 6 November 2005 – UNITED 1-0 Chelsea (Barclays Premier League)

Chelsea visited Old Trafford in this encounter as Premier League champions under José Mourinho and also on a forty-match unbeaten run. Who better to end that streak than Manchester United? In a tightly contested match in which Alan Smith played his heart out in midfield and Edwin van der Sar bravely denied Lampard amongst other chances from the host it was Darren Fletcher who scored the winning goal on the half hour mark. Looping a slow-motionesque header in the top corner from Ronaldo’s left wing cross.

This was also Sir Alex Ferguson’s 19th anniversary of being appointed at United.

Wed, 21 May 2008 – (P) UNITED 1-1 Chelsea AET (UEFA Champions League Final)

Who could forget this classic? An all English Champions League final for the first time, full of tension, nerves, it had it all. Cristiano Ronaldo headed in the opening goal in Moscow from Wes Brown’s right wing cross before Frank Lampard equalised, luck favouring Chelsea as Michael Essien’s long range effort deflected in to the England international’s path for an easy finish past van der Sar.

United should’ve been clear at half time but Petr Cech had other ideas. First saving from a Carlos Tevez point blank header and then quickly juming to his feet to deny Michael Carrick’s fizzing right foot effort. Chelsea struck the bar through Frank Lampard and also the post from Didier Drogba’s long range drive. It looked as though the game was slipping away.

Drogba eventually was given his marching orders after an altercation with Nemanja Vidic and in extra time the two time Champions League winners almost snatched victory. The hero was John Terry, heading Ryan Giggs’ stabbed effort off the line. The Chelsea captain would soon become the villain though.

The game went to penalties. Ronaldo was the only player to miss, having his stuttered penalty easily pushed away by Cech. The spotlight fell on John Terry, if he scored, Chelsea were the champions of Europe. He slipped and missed, the rest is history…

united-v-chelsea-hernandez 2011Sun, 8 May 2011 – UNITED 2-1 Chelsea (Barclays Premier League)
On a day where the title could be won or lost, it was make or break for both sides. Fortunately United came through at Old Trafford to go six points clear of Chelsea at the top of the table, leaving the ‘Red Devils’ only needing a point in their remaining two games to clinch a record nineteenth League title.

You couldn’t have wished for a better start as Park Ji-Sung set Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez on his way to goal, the little Mexican striker calmly finishing under Petr Cech after only 36 seconds. The atmosphere was insane, the crowd were going wild. Twenty or so minutes later and the lead was doubled.

A short corner allowed Giggs to skip past Kalou and cross in for Nemanja Vidic, our captain heading past Petr Cech for a second and United seemingly on their way to a crucial three points. Frank Lampard pulled a goal back on sixty eight minutes but it wasn’t enough. Sir Alex Ferguson bowed to thank the fans who had been in great voice and a week later, that single point was earned at Ewood Park. United; champions for a record nineteenth time.

There were more than just these games though. A Champions League double header between the two saw United triumph in both legs, running away 3-1 winners on aggregate and there was also a comeback in 2012 from three goals down at Stamford Bridge. Two Wayne Rooney penalties and a header from Javier Hernandez completing a wonderful comeback for a well-earned point.

Last season however was a different story with contrasting results. Having ended a baron run at Stamford Bridge, a first win there since 2001 we fell away from who would then be Rafa Benitez’ Chelsea. Having thrown away a two goal lead in the FA Cup, Demba Ba ensured the ‘Blues’ would advance in the replay and then at Old Trafford, Juan Mata scored a decisive goal in a 1-0 win for the away side.

So what for this Monday? An improvement of last season’s result in this fixture would be more than welcome. But with two clubs in managerial transition it could go eitherway.


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Tags: Manchester United · Opinion Piece

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