Ancelotti plots for a repeat of his greatest victory... beating Man United

07 November 2009 12:36
Carlo Ancelotti believes the victory he orchestrated overManchester United as AC Milan coach in the 2007 Champions Leaguesemi-final stands out as one of the finest of his career. BeatingUnited, he reasons, is always something to savour.

A win in his new capacity as Chelsea coach at Stamford Bridgetomorrow may not be quite so memorable, given that the Barclays PremierLeague season still has seven months to go. It would, however, installhis team as definite title favourites.

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'Going five points clear of United at this stage of the season would be a huge psychological advantage for us,' said Chelsea defender Ashley Cole yesterday.

'This is a big chance. Five points would be very good.'

Two-and-a-half years ago in the San Siro, a United team devoid of one of their best defenders - Rio Ferdinand - succumbed to Ancelotti's team in wet, winter-like weather. Tomorrow, there is danger of a little deja-vu.

Ferdinand is absent once again for this November clash and in recent days and weeks United's defenders have been struggling. Ferguson has fielded 12 different defences in 15 games this season, including goalkeepers, and it shows.

United are not exactly there for the taking but - against the powerhouse union of Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka - this will represent a test perhaps like no other the champions of England have faced so far.

Ferguson said: 'There's no question that they will be a handful. Drogba, for example, is a physical challenge to anyone. He's such a massive lad, powerful. He's a matchwinner. But we won't be as open as were on Tuesday against Moscow (in a 3-3 draw).

Pianful: Wayne Rooney after the defeat in Milan

'In a way we experimented a little bit on Tuesday. It didn't particularly work but we were open for that reason. Changing the defence didn't affect us last year.

'When we were on that run of 14 clean sheets we were changing the back four all the time. That shouldn't be the problem.

'But I think it would be nice to get clean sheets - no question about that. It makes a difference.'

I f Ferguson's analysis of his team's issues was a little left-field yesterday - he also suggested central defenders Wes Brown and Jonny Evans were among his better players against Moscow - then United defender Patrice Evra was a little more candid earlier in the week when he stated that his team would need a clean sheet to win.

T he chances are that he will be proved right. Chelsea have conceded just one goal at home in the league and in recent weeks Ancelotti's team have begun to power past opponents at Stamford Bridge. Scorers of 13 goals in their last three home games, Chelsea have also scored twice there against Liverpool and three times against Tottenham.

United have not been as convincing, at home or away, and not surprisingly Ancelotti has taken encouragement from their recent defeat at Liverpool. He said: 'Liverpool didn't give United any possibility to play like they want to play. It was a good lesson for us because Manchester can suffer when there's pressure on their midfielders. But I don't want to play against other team's weaknesses. We want to put our own qualities on the pitch.'

I f the meeting of bodies on the edge of the United penalty area will go some way to deciding this game, the midfield will be important too. In Frank Lampard, Chelsea have a player long admired by Ferguson. Joe Cole, too, has always been given the vote.

'Lampard has still retained that fantastic energy to come down the pitch and you would have to say that his player stats are quite exceptional for a midfield player,' the United manager said. 'He is 31 now but he looks after himself, obviously.

'They've got an exceptional player there and very, very good experience in the rest of the team. I think experience can be important. Joe Cole is a different type of player from one you would normally use in a position in that midfield diamond.

'But I think he is probably a player that I'd be looking for in that role; someone that can open up the door by his own individual play.'

'He is a very mobile player, capable of beating a man as we know - a brave little lad. United's own safe breaker Wayne Rooney will start tomorrow after the birth of his first son on Tuesday.

Stamford Bridge is the ground where he broke his metatarsal ahead of the 2006 World Cup. Another poor omen for a United side that will start - for once - as clear second favourites.

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 Explore more:People:Rio Ferdinand, Nicolas Anelka, Ashley Cole, Carlo Ancelotti, Patrice Evra, Wayne Rooney, Joe Cole, Didier Drogba, WES BROWNPlaces:Liverpool, Manchester, Milan, United Kingdom

Source: Daily_Mail

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