Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Premiership - The Title Decider

Old Trafford on Sunday is being billed as the title decider but in reality it is only the case if ManYoo were to triumph and there must be a strong suspicion that they will or at least get the draw that they would almost certainly settle for given their last two remaining fixtures. The point about Blackburn and Blackpool both fighting against relegation is well made but it does not alter the fact they are two incredibly poor Premiership teams.

Manchester United have two aces up their sleeves, Old Trafford and their indefatigable manager Sir Alex Ferguson who even with his phenomenal staying power must be sorely tempted to end on a high should they win the league and do the seemingly impossible by beating Pep Guardiola's Barca at Wembley, it would be a fitting end after all. Manchester United have won 27 of their last 30 games at Old Trafford with the other 3 drawn, it is an impressive record.

Chelsea have the momentum however it would seem after ManYoo's defeat at the Emirates with 25 points from 29 games. The question that remains is whether the steam roller is in full working order and whether it will actually be used. The January window was an odd one for Chelsea, the large twin signing of the superb David Luiz and the much coveted Fernando Torres signalled fresh enthusiasm from their owner and gave the team a much needed shot in the arm. The on pitch effect however have not been as hoped as whilst Luiz has been excellent, Torres has struggled to fit in and his presence has disrupted the balance within the team, it will be next season and possibly without Didier Drogba that Chelsea will see the best of Torres.

Ferguson will go in to tomorrow's match with a firm XI decided, as the season has progressed it has seemed more apparent that he has formed a clear picture in his mind of his strongest team and his selection against Schalke midweek gives a clear indication as to the majority of the starting XI. For Ancelotti however, both the personnel and the formation he will employ them in remain the subject of doubt due to the presence of Torres and the pressure to play a man who cost the owner 50M.

It is a little harsh possibly to call Abramovich a hire them and fire them owner. Ranieri was not his appointment and it is not unusual for new owners to bring in their own men. Mourinho engineered an exit for himself, Grant was simply employed to ensure continuity that season but was never a long term option and Scolari was a mistake whom the players ultimately revolted against. Chelsea tried and failed to keep Hiddink and Ancelotti remains in charge with no statements otherwise yet from the club. Nevertheless Ancelotti knows the pressure is on if he wishes to keep his job. Should he pick Drogba ahead of Torres and not get the victory he so desperately requires then he may well be heading back to Italy this summer.

There must be a suspicion that Ancelotti knows that the best thing to do for Chelsea's rhythm this Sunday is to employ the tried and tested with Drogba flanked by Malouda and the supposedly inferior Salomon Kalou. The question will be that with his presumed desire to stay at the club whether Ancelotti will do what gives him the best chance of winning or do what the believes the owner wants him to do.

Much will depend on how confident Ancelotti feels ahead of the match, given his record as both a player and a manager one would expect him to feel confident going into such matches and therefore if he thinks Chelsea will win and will do so by picking Drogba then he would be vindicated, pick him and fail however and the axe may be ready to fall.

Should Chelsea fail to win, the title is almost certainly going to Old Trafford for a record nineteenth time. If they do however then the prospect of a nail biting finish down to the last day and possibly down to goal difference is a very real possibility - No Nonsense.