So, this is it. This is the day we’ve been waiting for. At the start of the season when the fixtures are released, these are the days you pick out. To play Chelsea three games before the end of the season, you’re hoping that you’re within a chance of winning it then, whilst also preferring you won’t be relying on three points in that game to stand a chance.
Three months in to the season, United looked like the title was going to be too much for them. The Double winners were flying, six points ahead of United, whilst we were throwing away points so stupidly against sides like Everton and Fulham. When United are conceding a win in injury time, not claiming it, you know something is wrong.
Another odd feature of our season was we weren’t losing. Going unbeaten is something United have never excelled at, even in our most convincing title winning season.
As the season has gone on though, we have started to look more like United. There was the obligatory ridiculous defeat at the hands of 20th placed Wolves, as well as the brilliant come backs at West Ham and Blackpool after going 2-0 down, to win 4-2 and 3-2 respectively.
Our home form has been exceptional, with an incredibly rare and bizarre mistake from Edwin Van der Sar against West Brom the only reason why we haven’t won every single game at Old Trafford this season. Our ground is a fortress again.
So, if there was going to be any preparation to this game against Chelsea, a win or draw at the Emirates would have been ideal, but our brilliant home performances and results certainly point us in the right direction.
These players have been there and done it plenty of times before. Gary Neville revealed today that our lads and manager wouldn’t be nervous today but that there certainly would be a change in the intensity of the preparation. They know that if they win today the title is more or less theirs. That’s their place in not just United history, but English football history, as the team that won the record 19th title. If that isn’t enough motivation for them to get a result today, nothing will be.
It would be nice to see Fabio and Valencia running down the right wing today, with Ashley Cole bouncing off our Ecuadorian when he tries to make a challenge. The manager might opt for the experience of John O’Shea though, who captained the team through the European Cup semi-final on Wednesday.
On the left we should see Evra and Park, two great mates who should hopefully make the most of being up against Ivanovic. Park has a knack of scoring against Chelsea and playing well in the big games, so like everyone else out there, we will be looking for his hard work and determination. Nani had a good game against Schalke but has gone missing in the league a bit recently. He should be a handy sub though if we need to step it up a gear later in the game.
With Edwin Van der Sar, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic picking themselves, the rest of the places up for grabs depend on which formation the manager goes for. Playing Rooney and Chicharito didn’t work at the Emirates, with the Mexican touching the ball to make a pass on just seven occasions all game. However, on our home turf, you’d like to think the manager had the confidence to think they could pull it off. Rooney could come deeper with Chicharito on John Terry’s shoulder all game.
This would leave Michael Carrick and Ryan Giggs in the centre of midfield, who were both great in our Champions League games against Chelsea recently. Both were given a game off for Schalke with this game in mind. However, if Fergie is feeling more cautious, he might play Rooney up top by himself and slot in Scholes or Ando, who both played well midweek.
Personally, I’d go for playing two strikers and going for the win. We know that Chelsea have to come at us because a draw isn’t good enough for them. They have to win and I fancy us to catch them on the counter.
These are the days we wait for all season and I feel sick to my stomach with nerves and excitement. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. What lucky bastards we are to support a team that puts us in this situation at the end of the season more often than not. These are the days why we love football so let’s soak up every second of it.
So COME on United! Win us the league!