The most eagerly awaited game of the season is finally here, as United travel to Stamford Bridge tonight as hot favourites to pick up their 19th title.
Stephen Juniper gives us his top five United versus Chelsea games.
5. 4th January 1998 Stamford Bridge FA Cup third round Chelsea 3 United 5.
This was a bit of a strange game at Stamford Bridge as United started the game very brightly being 5-0 up after 74 mins with goals from Beckham (2) Cole (2) and one from Sheringham. It seemed United were running away with the tie before Graeme Le Saux pulled one back and Vialli added a brace. This raised the previously shell-shocked crowd but it was too little too late as United held on for the win.
4. 19th December 1992 Stamford Bridge premier league Chelsea 1 United 1.
United went to Stamford bridge with an excellent squad of players and also new signing Eric Cantona. Chelsea had just seen the takeover of the club by RBS from the receivers after a long battle to keep the club afloat. How times have changed in West London eh?
The game is memorable as it is where Cantona scored his first goal for the club after his move over the Pennines from Leeds. This is the moment every United fan was waiting for as we went on to lift the league title.
3, 20th April 2002 Stamford Bridge Premier League. Chelsea 0 United 3.
United travelled to Stamford Bridge trying to keep pressure on league leaders Arsenal. United were missing big players with Beckham and Keane both out of the game due to injury. Chelsea were also pushing for that third champions league spot so they were really up for the game United were considered slight underdogs with their two key men missing but let’s not forget we did have the player of the season in our ranks: Van Nistlerooy.
It was that little ginger Prince Paul Scholes who on 15 mins put United in the leadwith a sublime free kick, Ruud van Nistelrooy added the second on 41 when he put the ball past Cudicini to put United on their way to a comfortable win. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer added the third on 86 to settle any doubts. This was Uniteds last win at Stamford Bridge a shambolic record that desperately needs addressing
2, 11th January 2009. Old Trafford premier league United 3 Chelsea 0.
United went into the game chasing down a Liverpool side who were clear at the summit of the league. United had Giggs and Fletcher in the centre of the park and many thought they would get over run by a much stronger Chelsea midfield.
How wrong they were as Giggs and Fletcher dominated the game. Chelsea’s midfield struggled to cope with the movement of Giggs and the aggression of Fletcher and United took the lead when Vidic headed us infront in first half injury time after a flick from a Giggs corner on 63mins. It was just reward and Ronaldo was unlucky to have his perfectly legitimate goal disallowed.
Rooney extended the lead when he turned in Evra’s cross. Dimitar Berbatov completed the romp when he grabbed the third from a Ronaldo free kick, this win putting united on the charge and leaving them five points off Liverpool with two games in hand.
1, 21st May 2008 Luzhniki Stadium, Champion’s League final United 1 Chelsea 1, United win 6-5 on penalties.
History was made as soon as the match kicked off as it was the first time two English sides had met in the final of the biggest game in club football. United went into the game as slight underdogs. This was the first time Chelsea had been to such a huge final and on 26mins Ronaldo put United ahead after a great cross from Wes Brown. Ronaldo rose high to head the ball into the corner of Cech’s goal. United’s early lead was cancelled out in the 45th minute when the ball fell to the feet of Frank Lampard who slotted the ball past Van Der Sar to make it 1-1.
The match wore on into extra time and in the 116th minute the lovable Didier Drogba was dismissed for a slap on Vidic as the game carried over to penalties. Ronaldo missed his and left the game to be won by John Terry who stomped up to the spot thinking he’d already won the game for Chelsea. “Mister Chelsea” the commentators cried as he stepped up. “Viva John Terry, could have won the cup but…..”
Anelka then had his saved in sudden death by a smiling Van Der Sar, for United to lift the European cup for the third time in their history. Bobby Charlton recounts how Sir Alex asked him and Nobby Stiles to speak to the players before the game about the club’s history, who knows that could well have been the difference.
Hopefully United will travel to the Bridge with same confidence after there 4-0 drubbing of Wigan and put in a performance like some of the ones I’ve just mentioned. My tip is that after all the talk of the Rooney incident over the weekend Wayne will score the winner. Come on Reds!