Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Manchester United v Celtic - Preview

An English-Scottish derby game always has a good measure of spice in it, and this evening's game will be no different. Certainly, last time we drew Celtic in the group stages we were involved in two pulsating encounters - they took the lead at Old Trafford, Shunsuke Nakamura scored two unbelievable free kicks over the two legs, Louis Saha missed a 90th minute penalty in the away game, and that was just the start.

Still, it is important for us to secure three points - the easiest route to Fergie's magic 10 point figure is to win your three home games and take it from there. We dropped points against Villarreal, and although we compensated by strolling past Aalborg, Fergie will want us to take maximum points from the other two home games to relieve pressure on the away legs. Also, if we can wrap the group up early, it gives us a good chance to rest players in readiness for the fixture congestion that is December.

In team news, Anderson and Tevez are available for selection again, having return from South America too late to participate against West Brom. Anderson is expected to take Giggs' place in central midfield, and I would like to see Tevez replace Park to form the "fab four" strike force with Rooney, Berbatov and Ronaldo. However, Fergie revealed in an interesting interview about Ronaldo that the Portuguese may be struggling with two games a week as he recovers from his ankle injury, and that Nani might replace him tomorrow. Given that we're at home and needing to win, I expect to see 4-4-2 rather than 4-3-2-1.

Carrick and Hargreaves are still missing, although Fergie confirmed that Carrick is training and may be ready for next weekend. The reborn Fletcher should keep his place in central midfield. Evra has been ruled out, and so O'Shea will continue to fill in for him, unless the manager gives Jonny Evans a run in a position he played on occasion for Sunderland. Such a physical European night seems a step to far for Rafael, who will make way for either Neville or Brown.

Predicted team: EVDS - O'Shea, Vidic, Rio, Neville - Tevez, Anderson, Fletcher, Ronaldo - Rooney, Berbatov

Goals for the game

Goal 1 -
Celtic know that they can't live with us in a technical match, and will come with the aim of being very physical and very energetic, looking to knock us off our game. With that in mind, it is essential that we control the tempo of the game, drawing their sting in the first half hour and looking to open them up as they tire.

Goal 2 - they will feel that their best chances of scoring will come from dead ball situations, so w have the twin aims of minimising free kicks conceded in shooting range and defending set plays effectively - the latter was a noticeable weakness in the first few games of the season, and cost us a win against Chelski.

Prediction: 3-1 United (Tevez, Rooney, Berbatov)

What are your predictions, and what will you be looking for from the game?


Gapi said...

I like your score prediction, let's hope you're right and all three score. We'll need to be on top of our game if we want to win, Celtic won't roll over for us. I think that if Anderson starts a lot will be down to his performance.

Penguinissimo said...

Absolutely - now would be a great time for Anderson to remind us all why he's such a sensation. Plus, him and Fletcher are likely playing for one place once Carrick gets fits.

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