Saturday, November 5, 2005

Live or die: Manchester United vs Chelsea

Manchester United is about to play the most important game of the season on Sunday against Chelsea FC and a defeat could dent their title hopes and even Champions League qualification.

United have been in dire form recently, slumping to defeats at the hands of Middlesbrough and Lille, causing matters off the field to hit the back pages as much as matters on the field.

Earlier this week, Red Devils skipper Roy Keane blasted his team-mates and claim players such as Alan Smith, Darren Fletcher and John O'Shea aren't fit enough to wear the United shirt.

However, the MUTV interview with the Irishman was not aired to the public but Sir Alex Ferguson will reportedly show the interview tomorrow afternoon in the United dressing room as motivation.

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho insists motivation is not a problem for Manchester United and also insists United will bounce back. He said: "If a team is not used to losing, it's not easy to live or play when you do lose. Sunday is the best game for them. They don't need motivation or commitment.

"They will be speaking about this game as the one to bring them back to the good level. So it won't be easy for us.

"But while these are the most difficult matches to play, they are the easiest matches to prepare for because I don't need to motivate the players."

Sir Alex Ferguson is likening the fixture to the game his side ended Arsenal's unbeaten run of what would have been 50 Premiership games. "We stopped Arsenal on 49 games, we made sure of that. There are some similarities, but I think Chelsea are made of sterner stuff. They are a very powerful team and committed to defending. It’s not going to be easy to beat them, but I think we can. We need to start well and make them think for a bit. I know we have the ability to do it.

"If we get a good start and the crowd really get going then they’re a formidable lot our lads. I certainly don’t think they will let the players down."

Team News:
Ryan Giggs, Roy Keane, Gabriel Heinze, Quinton Fortune, Louis Saha and Gary Neville are all noticeable absentees while Chelsea seem to be at full strength for Sunday's encounter.