REVEALED: A team to beat Sir Alex's Manchester Untouchables
10 March 2009 01:49
Not many teams have the courage to face Manchester United with a 4-4-2 formation but that's one of the main reasons why so few ever beat them.
In case people haven't noticed, in order to beat Sir Alex Ferguson's team you have to score against them. The chances are you will have to score twice. So, I've picked my team from the rest of the Barclays Premier League players to find the strongest side to take on United.
If you set your team up like this then the chances are that you might get rolled over. But there is just a glimmer that you may win.
Newcastle and Blackburn both came to Old Trafford this season with two men up top and both gave United a proper scare. So 4-4-2 it is for this all conquering team.
I make no apologies for including seven Englishmen in the starting XI. We do have some decent players, you know.
SHAY GIVEN (Manchester City)
Forget Van der Sar, Reina and Cech, this guy is the best in the Premier League on current form. He would need to be, too.
GLEN JOHNSON (Portsmouth)
One of the most improved players, Johnson would do his bit to keep Patrice Evra in his own half and would not be phased by a match-up with Ji-Sung Park. Carries an occasional goal threat, too.
JAMIE CARRAGHER (Liverpool)
A proper big game player and one of the country's most reliable central defenders. Which, presumably, is why Rafa Benitez sometimes plays him at right-back.
JOLEON LESCOTT (Everton)
Quick, mobile and a good reader of the game, Everton's young defender is still learning the trade. But he has the intelligence to anticipate the attacking interplay that is so fundamental to United.
ASHLEY COLE (Chelsea)
Nobody in the country plays Cristiano Ronaldo better than this guy. Why do you think Ronaldo was asked to play on the left in last season's Champions League final?
AARON LENNON (Tottenham)
The young winger gave Evra a real test at Wembley in the Carling Cup Final a week ago and that performance alone has earned this selection. Evra said afterwards that he had felt 'tired'. Poor lamb.
STEVEN GERRARD (Liverpool)
The skipper of this team, Gerrard will have to fire if they are to have a chance. To beat United you must secure possession and keep the ball away from their best passers such as Michael Carrick. Gerrard can do this and can also drive towards the (small) gap between Ferdinand and Vidic.
MICHAEL ESSIEN (Chelsea)
The Blues have missed Essien this season. If you are going to survive against United and push forward and score goals, you must keep the door locked at the back. I would give Essien a role in front of my back four with simple instructions: 'If it moves, kick it.'
ASHLEY YOUNG (Aston Villa)
A crucial role for a young player and a big test, too. Young must get at John O'Shea, turn him round and keep him moving backwards. But he must also provide cover for Cole when he bombs forwards. A big ask for the young Englishman.
TIM CAHILL (Everton)
If you are going to beat United your second striker must operate in that no-man's land between the central defenders and the midfield. This is how Samir Nasri helped Arsenal to beat them in November and how Kaka led Milan to victory when United last lost in Europe 20 games ago. Cahill is perfect for this role. And he is a big-game player, too.
FERNANDO TORRES (Liverpool)
Pace. All central defenders hate it. And Vidic and Ferdinand wouldn't fancy 90 minutes against this guy. Much would depend on his understanding with Cahill. Can he play with the Australian like he never managed to do with Robbie Keane? He will need to.
PETR CECH (Chelsea)- The best goalkeeper in the Premier League on his day.
JOHN TERRY (Chelsea) - Has not been at his best this season so misses out on a starting spot.
GAEL CLICHY (Chelsea) - An Ashley Cole replica.without the scandal.
CESC FABREGAS (Arsenal) - A safe breaker, will come on if we need to open the game up.
ROBINHO (Manchester City) - May get a run if we are playing at home.
JERMAIN DEFOE (Tottenham)- Won't work for me but may grab me a goal.
DIDIER DROGBA (Chelsea) - If his ego can cope with being a sub he just gets the nod ahead of club-mate Nicolas Anelka.