BubblyMickey gives us the lowdown on Sundayâ€™s key battles when Manchester United and Chelsea go head to head to decide who tops the Premiership.
Without reading the minds of Jose Mourinho or Alex Ferguson in terms of Sunday’s tactics (there’s always a good chance Jose will throw out some crazy formation in the first 10 minutes) or whether either manager is playing those annoying “mind games” with just how injured his players are, here’s my take on how the key matchups could pan out in this one.
Wayne Rooney vs John Terry
Englandâ€™s golden boy up against Englandâ€™s captain. Rooney destroyed
Sheffield United but looked ineffective against Wee Gordonâ€™s Celtic. Terryâ€™s
been his usual imposing self this season, though he may have exhausted his
reportoire of rousing team talks trying to get England out of their current
Terry has the strength to rough Rooney up a bit and stop him playing, and
the boy usually get frustrated when this happens, losing either his touch or
his temper (or both). But if Tabloid Wayne can drop deep enough to avoid
Captain John, then Chelsea better look out.
Louis Saha vs Ricardo Carvalho
Terry and Rooney may be the battle in the spotlight, but this clash between
their underrated partners is key to the John Wayne tussle. Sahaâ€™s pace is
the key to pinning defenders back and opening up space for Rooney to play
in, so if Carvalho can keep the Frenchman subdued heâ€™ll nullify Unitedâ€™s
attacking threat. Wonder if Saha will take any penalties?
Cristiano Ronaldo vs Ashley Cole
These two ever popular young men have already had some great encounters on
the international scene. Cole handled Ronaldo well in the Euro 2004 game,
but the Portuguese trickster has matured (sort of) and improved since then
and is currently enjoying the form of his life. Cole is better defensively
than he gets credit for, but his form has been pretty dreadful since his big
tabloid extravaganza transfer from Arsenal to Chelsea. Chelsea would be
better off with William Gallas for this game.
Ryan Giggs vs Khalid Boulahrouz
The veteran winger versus the man still finding his feet in England. The
Cannibal often looks like a central defender playing out of position
(something Gallas also did better) and Giggâ€™s good form couples with
Boulahrouz recent patchiness would suggest Giggs roasting the Dutchman. But
donâ€™t forget that this Dutchman had Ronaldinho in his pocket not so long
Michael Carrick vs Claude Makelele
As holding midfielders, this isnâ€™t even a contest. Makelele is head and
shoulders above Carrick as an anchorman (though head and shoulders below him
height-wise). Both love the sideways pass, but whereas the little Frenchman
is dependably unadventurous, the Geordie has the ability to ping that killer
Paul Scholes vs Frank Lampard
Ginger hair excepted, these are two surprisingly similar players. Both love
the late, well timed run into the box and both can lash a ball past a
despairing keeper from distance. The difference is that Scholes is looking
composed and full of confidence, while Lampard is half the man he was last
Roy Keane vs Michael Essien
Michael Essien is a monster right now. Seems like heâ€™s everything a modern
midfielder should be. Strong, fast, fierce, box to box, tackles, rampages
forward. Essien is the new Roy Keane, and what a ding-dong that would have
made for if they went head to head. Unfortunately Keane is retired and busy
managing Sunderland. United have never replaced him and they might regret it
Rio Ferdinand vs Andri Shevchenko
For Â£60 million worth of talent, this is one frustratingly patchy match up.
Both players have undoubted quality, but one of them doesnâ€™t seem interested
enough to concentrate for a whole 90 minutes, and the other isnâ€™t hitting
his previous goalscoring heights. If one has an off day and the other an on
day, this could be lop-sided.
Nemanja Vidic vs Didier Drogba
Both these players are in great form. Drogba might be the best forward in
the world right now, and Vidic has been adding a few headed goals to go with
his rock solid defending (heâ€™s probably the new Jaap Stam defending wise).
Should be titanic, but Chelsea will be hoping Drogbaâ€™s
ankle injury isnâ€™t too serious.