Manchester United v Chelsea – 5 Key Clashes
Manchester United and Chelsea meet again at Old Trafford this Sunday, so to mark the occasion, we look back at this fixture’s history and pick out five epic battles between the two sides since the turn of the century to reflect upon what has become one of English football’s most passionate rivalries. The first ever meeting a drab 0-0 stalemate in the old League 2 on Christmas Day 1905 and the two storied sides have met 170 times with United winning 75, Chelsea coming out on top just 49 times, and the drawn prevailing on 46 occasions. The clash certainly took on a new complexion with the emergence of Chelsea as a legitimate title contender around the early 2000’s, the Blues becoming a permanent thorn in Sir Alex Ferguson’s side in an era where United threatened to dominate the division.
Sunday, October 3rd 1999, Stamford Bridge – Chelsea 5 Manchester United 0
United had just won a stunning treble months before, but Chelsea were a rising force and had eyes on the title after going a close third the year before. However, Manchester United arrived in West London full of confidence due to an outstanding 29 game unbeaten run. What followed was nothing short of remarkable. Gus Poyet opened the scoring for the home side before some supporters had found their seats, and £10,000,000 record signing Chris Sutton scored what would turn out to be his only league goal of the season shortly thereafter. Another from Poyet, an own goal from Henning Berg and a late strike from Jody Morris completed the rout.
Saturday, April 29th 2006, Stamford Bridge – Chelsea 3 Manchester United 0
Fast forward six seasons and Chelsea had truly arrived. Jose Mourinho and his band of merry men had set the all-time points record in the premiership in the 2005 season, eclipsing even the legendary unbeaten Arsenal side. The Reds arrived at Stamford Bridge in late April resigned to their fate, with the Blues needing just a point to seal back to back title winning seasons. The match itself was more of a coronation than a contest, with William Gallas’ fifth minute headed goal practically ending the contest. Goals from Joe Cole and Ricardo Carvalho sealed a fine 3-0 victory and kick-started celebrations for the home supporters. United and England fans would curse their luck as Wayne Rooney limped out of the match with a broken metatarsal, putting his and England’s 2006 World Cup campaign in jeopardy.
Wednesday, May 21st 2008, Moscow – Chelsea 1 Manchester United 1 (Manchester United win on penalties)
Chelsea won the FA cup in 2007 against Manchester United at Wembley. Manchester United won the title in 2007/08 by just two points over a previously rampant Chelsea side. It seemed as if fate had aligned to bring these two titans of English football to the Champions League final in Moscow. Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring, but Frank Lampard came up with an equaliser, forcing them game to extra time. Didier Drogba saw red and the game drifted towards penalties. As fate would have it, he would be sorely missed during the spot-kicks. Everyone remembers John Terry’s unfortunate slip in the pouring rain as he approached the ball to win a maiden Champions League title for his boyhood club. Few remember that it was in fact Nicolas Anelka who tamely missed the subsequent penalty to gift Manchester United another title.
Sunday, January 11th 2009, Old Trafford – Manchester United 3 Chelsea 0
After a one-all draw in September, Manchester United put in a title winning performance against a Chelsea side, perhaps not fully recovered still from the painful loss in Moscow. After the 3-0 drubbing, taking in goals from Nemanja Vidic, Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov, Chelsea’s league campaign was arguably finished, while United went on to lift the trophy in May.
Monday, August 26th 2013, Old Trafford – Manchester United 0 Chelsea 0
With a bit of historical perspective behind us, we can now look back at this dire 0-0 contest and find clues to how the clubs fortunes were to play out over the course of the next 18 months. Jose Mourinho was back on the touchline for Chelsea after a ‘hiatus’, but his opposite number was the newly installed David Moyes. Mourinho started relatively unknown German winger Andre Schurrle as a make shift, or make do, striker. His message was clear. He wasn’t happy with his strike force and would be looking to replace the likes of Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto’o and Demba Ba sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, Moyes’ tactics proved incapable of breaking down a rather toothless opponent, which would prove something of a recurring theme during his ill-fated reign in the Old Trafford hot-seat. Follow @SportingIndex
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