Tonightâ€™s game is the 68th meeting between the two clubs in the league at Stamford Bridge.
Chelseaâ€™s first meeting with Manchester United game was during theÂ Blues’ first season in the football league and took place in April 1906, finishing as a 1-1 draw.
ChelseaÂ fans had to wait almost fourteen years before the first home win over United, thanks to a single goal from World War I veteran Jack Cock in January 1920. Chelseaâ€™s record against United at Stamford Bridge before World War II wasnâ€™t spectacular â€“ three wins in thirteen games -but one of those victories was a memorable 6-2 thrashing in September 1930 that featured a hat-trick by Alec Cheyne and two goals from fellow Scottish international Hughie Gallagher.
Amazingly, almost twenty years passed before Chelsea beat Manchester United at home again â€“ Hugh Billington was the only goalscorer in November 1950 â€“ and although the Blues won the League Championship in 1954/55, the 6-5 home defeat by United in October 1954 was Ted Drakeâ€™s sideâ€™s third home defeat that season. Seamus Oâ€™Connell â€“who despite his name was an England amateur internationalÂ – emulated Cheyneâ€™s feat by scoring a hat-trick.
Although itâ€™s highly unlikely that tonightâ€™s game will finish 6-5, itâ€™s noticeable that the 5-0 win over United in October 1999 seems to have heralded an era of Chelsea dominance over United in recent seasons. Since then, Chelsea have only lost once at Stamford Bridge in the Premiership to their northern rivals and have kept six clean sheets in their last ten meetings against United in West London: although goals have been at a premium recently, tonightâ€™s game should be another fascinating chapter in a rivalry thatâ€™s been established for over a century.
The only real alternative was Roy Hodgson, who…ummm… got ‘lucky’ when heÂ was appointed Liverpool manager yesterday. Despite dropping hints here, there and everywhere while working as a media pundit during the World Cup, Harry Redknapp isn’t the right person for the job at allÂ – let’s see how he gets on in the Champions League before going in that direction.Â So Fab continues as England manager, probably because he’s too expensive to get rid of.Â I believe the expression is ‘Golden Handcuffs’.
We’ve got three Euro 2012 qualifiers before the middle of October: Bulgaria at home onÂ September 3rd, Switzerland away the following Tuesday and then Montenegro at home on October 12th. The first of those games comes three games into the Premiership season; the friendly against Hungary is three days before the Premiership kicks off, so the week following the Community Shield between Man U and Chelsea. So it’s anyone’s guess who is going to be in the squad for that game. I’d volunteer but it’s my mum’s birthday the weekÂ before, I’m far too old and I’m alsoÂ eligible for another international team from the British Isles I want to keep my options open 😉
Last thing today: Jerry and I had discussed who we’d like to win the World Cup. Needless to say – and I’m writing this just after the second half of Ghana v Uruguay hasÂ begun – my choice is already out. Jerry’s choice is still in the competition, but I’m only going to tell you who he likes if they win. Unless he wants to tell you himself of course…
It’s early November and we’re still another seventh months until the tournament starts but I must admit that the injuries to Rio Ferdinand and Steven Gerrard are beginning to worry me. According to Radio 5, Gerrard hasn’t trained for two weeks and Ferdinand’s overall fitness this season may have contributed to some of his indifferent performances when he has appeared for Manchester United. Still, it’s probably better to be injured now and we’re not the only country with a problem: I strongly suspect that Fernando Torres’ injury is probably more serious than either of theirs.
No doubt about the game of the weekend: ChelseaÂ v Manchester United on Sunday (Sky Sports 1), which – for a change -Â has been comfortably overtaken in the hype stakes by the Hay/Valuev fight this evening. Both teams go into this meeting having drawn in their respective Champions League games this week: United had to come back from two goals down at home to CSKA Moscow, whilst Chelsea drew 2-2 at Athletico Madrid. Both of them are through to the knockout stages.
In other news…Sir David Beckham will be rejoining Milan when the MLS season finishes, probably just as well for Milan who are currently nine points behind leaders Juventus…’loveable rogue’ Austin ‘Jack’Â Warner is playing up about a handbag…and I’m going to post this before IE decides to hang again.
Finally, we’re going to be trying something different next Saturday – if you click on the 11lionslive link above, you’ll be taken to our live blog page where we’ll be attempting to cover the EnglandÂ v Brazil friendly as well as the UEFA playoffs. Should be another post up early next week with squad details, so for now enjoy the rest of the weekend and thanks for reading.
After a hectic weekend in European competition which didn’t go particularly well for some of the Premiership teams, we’re back to the bread and butter (or should that be the champagne and caviar) stuff. No doubt about this weekend’s biggest game: Liverpool v Manchester United on Sunday. Anyone tuning in to Sky Sports on Sunday afternoon wanting to watch some sort of epoch defining clash of the titansÂ between Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney might be disappointed though: Gerrard limped off during Liverpool’s home defeat in the Champions League against Lyonand Rooney didn’t feature at all in United’s win in Moscow over CSKA.
There are five other games featuring multiple England stars: no surprise that all of them apart from Manchester City v Fulham are being televised. Coverage kicks off on Saturday lunchtime when Aston Villa travel to Wolves (12.45pm GMT Sky Sports 1), then ESPN has Chelsea v Blackburn at 5.30pm. On Sunday Liverpool/Man U is followed by West HamÂ v Arsenal but make sure you check the kick off times on Sunday as the clocks go back one hour in Britain.
That’s about it for this week, apart from a couple ofÂ updates: it’s probably fair to say thatÂ whatÂ Diego MaradonaÂ said to the press after the victory in MontevideoÂ wasÂ pretty rude forÂ live TV and probably sounded worse in vernacular Spanish than it did in translation. It’s also looking extremely likely that David Beckham will rejoin Milan after the MLS season finishes: Brian GlanvilleÂ (the elder statesman of British football writers) has some interesting things to say about Beckham’s position in the England team in November’s issue of World Soccer.
Thanks for reading, enjoy your weekend…and remember to re-set anything that tells you what time it is!
The list of confirmed qualifiers for next year is as follows:
Australia, Brazil, England, Ghana, Holland, Japan, North Korea, Paraguay, South Korea and Spain. Possibly the only surprise there is North Korea (making their second appearance in the finals) but all of these countries have qualified before. The play off situation is still wide open so we’ll take a look at that nearer the time; the other story that we’re monitoring is when (rather than if) Diego Maradona and Argentina part company. The last time Argentina failed to qualify was in 1970 but there’s a real chance they may be missing next year.
Back to the Premiership this weekend for all but one of the England squad: game of the day has to be Manchester United v Spurs (ESPN 5:15pm GMT) as it’s second v third and should feature a lot of England players. Arsenal v Manchester City should also be worth keeping an eye on.
Clive Tyledesley was on form on Wednesday, wasn’t he? Croatia are our ‘skeleton in blue’ (perhaps not any more), he mentioned France but obviously hadn’t been fed the information that notÂ only were they losing but their goalkeeper had been sent off, StevenÂ Gerrard is onlyÂ a inch and a half taller than Dario Srna and Croatia is an old countryÂ (it became a kingdom in 924) but after union with Hungary in 1102 it eventually became part of the Hapsburg Empire and only became truly independent again in 1991.
Finally, did anyone else notice the pitchside advert informing us that beer is available in pubs? Thank goodness for that…I’d been wondering where I could get some for next year. Imagine if you could watch football in pubs, that’d be great!
Enjoy the weekend.