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Faltering United defence faces toughest test when they meet Chelsea

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06 Nov 2009 00:29:29

Faltering United defence faces toughest test when they meet Chelsea

DESPITE the millions of pounds spent each year on attacking playersin the Barclays Premier League, it remains the case that defences winchampionships. Last season may be remembered in part for thrilling ManchesterUnited fightbacks against teams like Aston Villa (3-2) and Tottenham(5-2) at Old Trafford. It is these days that stand out on the highlights reel. Faltering defence: United conceded three at home to CSKA  Wayne Rooney wants the life of Ryan - Manchester United striker uses Giggs as role modelInjuries have wrecked Manchester United's defence, admits club captain Gary NevilleDon't give up day job, Rio: Ferdinand has to forget red carpet and fix his formRio will never be the player he once was, claims ex-England boss TaylorSir Alex Ferguson's team did not win their third successive league title on the back of exciting matches against teams like Villa and Tottenham though. Shut-outs at places like Portsmouth, Blackburn, Villa, Manchester City, Tottenham and West Ham ultimately saw them over the line. But it is United's poor defending - rather than breathless, heroic comebacks as happened against CSKA Moscow on Tuesday - that will occupy Ferguson's mind ahead of Sunday's meeting with title rivals Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. So far this season, United have recorded six clean sheets in 15 league and European games but, significantly, they have not managed one against a domestic opponent of real note. Facing the formidable Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba on Sunday, improvement must come. Enlarge Special relationship: Anelka and Drogba have been on fire for the Blues United left-back Patrice Evra said: 'When you concede three goals, as we did against CSKA, you cannot say that it is a good performance for a defender. But the league is totally different. 'Anelka and Drogba are both great friends of mine and great players and, if you want to win there, you have to keep a clean sheet. 'So all the defenders have to focus about this game. Because I think that is how we will win it.' Shut-out: Evra says United must keep a clean sheet against Chelsea on Sunday United's problem is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that Chelsea have already kept nine clean sheets this season. At home they have conceded only once in the Premier League. The other disturbing aspect of United's season has been the manner of some of the goals they have conceded. The three against CSKA were indicative of the malaise - poor marking, incoherent communication and failures to take responsibility. United have won the league for the last three years by conceding 24, 22 and 27 goals respectively. The days when they can ship 45 and still lift the trophy - as they did in 2000 - have long gone. So far 11 have gone in to their net in the league at an average of one a game. It does not sound a lot but over a 38-game season it will prove far too many. Central defender Wes Brown said: 'We cannot concede like we have been doing when we go to Stamford Bridge. It will be our toughest game of the season.'  Wayne Rooney wants the life of Ryan - Manchester United striker uses Giggs as role modelInjuries have wrecked Manchester United's defence, admits club captain Gary NevilleDon't give up day job, Rio: Ferdinand has to forget red carpet and fix his formRio will never be the player he once was, claims ex-England boss Taylor  Explore more:People:WES BROWN, Alex Ferguson, Nicolas Anelka, Patrice Evra, Didier Drogba


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