Manchester United v Chelsea Preview: Will Chelsea Flaws be Exposed?

25 August 2013

The second full round of Premier League fixtures conclude on Monday as Chelsea take a trip to Old Trafford to play Manchester United.

For Chelsea, this is the first true test of their title credentials. Many, me included, have picked them for the title. However, there play in the first two games of this season have exposed some flaws that I'm sure Jose Mourinho were hoping wouldn't be exposed until later in the season.

The first is that is is beyond obvious that Chelsea's forward play has only been at a level of respectability when Lukaku is on the park. While Chelsea have no goals in his time on the pitch, the quality of chances they've created is much better. The other thing that Chelsea has to remember is that with their first two matches, their opposition laid off for the first twenty to thirty minutes of the match. They won't have that luxury in this one, so they are going to need someone up top who can both setup the midfield and create for himself.

The next flaw is in the back. Both Hull City and Aston Villa have picked on the center backs, and that's where Chelsea's biggest weakness is.With Tim Cahill in the center, John Terry is essentially playing on his own. If Jose was smart, Cahill is nowhere on the pitch. The center back partnership should be Terry and Ivanovic, with Azpilicueta at right back. Oh, and a word about Terry and Ivanovic: they will not get the bailout calls they got against Aston Villa.

The final flaw that is obvious for Chelsea is they have too many chefs in the midfield and it takes too much time for their intricate passes to bear any fruit. This is time they will not have against Manchester United. They have been bailed out by Hull City and Aston Villa being too scared to give up early goals allowing them to set up their play early. If Juan Mata was healthy, this would be the perfect match for him to play in.

Oh, and Chelsea won't have a home crowd happy Jose Mourinho's back on their side either.

Manchester United on the field looked like a better team than the team that won the title last season. The only two question marks have been about David Moyes and Wayne Rooney. David Moyes always struggled in his time at Everton against their biggest rival Liverpool. Moyes would always set up his side way too defensively, and had a difficult time making the right substitutions to swing the game in his favor. You can easily argue with me that he didn't have the same level of talent at Everton that he does at Manchester United, and I would completely agree. However, I'm of the belief of old patterns dictate new behavior. My biggest concern about Manchester United in this match is that they set up too defensively. If they set up to counter in the same manner they did last week against Swansea City, these concerns will be for naught.

I would be a fool if I didn't talk about Wayne Rooney here. While Chelsea need another forward that can hold up play, they won't be getting Rooney. While Rooney and Moyes may not have the best personal relationship, there's been every indication to me that since Wayne found out he's going nowhere, he's knuckled down in training. His performance against Swansea proved that out. While Jose Mourinho may have been as clever as he could be last week in saying the bid was coming for him on Tuesday, he's only giving off the vibe he's scared about this match. These Manchester United players have seen Jose's winding up tactics before; this thin veiled attempt is not going to work.

So what do I see happening here? I see this as a one sided affair. I expect Chelsea to be second best to the ball all night, and Lukaku to start from the bench. Furthermore, Manchester United will want to make a statement that regardless who the manager is, they are still the team to beat in England. If you are expecting a classic encounter, I'm afraid we got that on Sunday with Cardiff City beating Manchester City. When it is all said and done, I expect Manchester United at the top of the table come 5 pm Monday evening.

FT score line prediction: Manchester United 3 Chelsea 0.

The fan in me is dying having to predict that, so I'll ask you: what do you expect the full time result to be? Let me know in the comments below.


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Johnathan Starling, the self proclaimed 'most brutally honest man on the net, dishes out his own unique brand of opinions, and analysis on the Premier League, Bundesliga, and all things US Soccer.

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