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Should Drogba or Torres face Man Utd?

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Phil McNulty | 09:52 UK time, Monday, 4 April 2011

Carlo Ancelotti's hopes of silverware - and arguably even his long-term future as Chelsea manager - now hinge on success in the Champions League.

Chelsea's failure to get three points at Stoke City, coupled with Manchester United's comeback from two goals down to win at West Ham United, pushed the destiny of the Premier League a little further in Old Trafford's direction.

So, as Chelsea and United prepare to meet in the Champions League quarter-final first leg at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, will Ancelotti risk leaving the man who broke the British transfer record when he arrived for £50m in January on the bench?

Ancelotti is likely to make a choice between Fernando Torres, that bank-breaking arrival from Liverpool and a scourge of United in the past, and Didier Drogba.

The decision, and its subsequent success, may go a long way towards shaping the rest of Chelsea's season and Ancelotti's destiny under the ownership of Roman Abramovich.

Torres has been praised for his work-rate and intelligent running since his move from Anfield but this should have come guaranteed at £50m and the more telling statistic is his failure to score. He is currently mired in a sequence of 10 games without a goal for his new club and country.

Drogba, in contrast, was on target at the Britannia Stadium and was in the sort of feisty and combative mood that even saw him involved in an angry exchange with a heckling fan at the final whistle.

It was a contribution that drew praise from Ancelotti as he considers his striking options ahead of Wednesday's game. He said: "It was important to see him in this condition and it was important to see him score. He used his power, ability and personality."

If Ancelotti decides against combining Drogba and Torres, he faces a choice between the raw physical power and volatility of the Ivory Coast striker or the quicksilver Spaniard whose pace, movement and ability to alter the course of big games in an instant persuaded Abramovich sign off that cheque to Liverpool.

An angry Drogba can be a deadly Drogba but Ancelotti's powers of recollection will ensure Torres will be factored into the equation he must solve before making his selection.

Torres has a history of troubling Manchester United in general, and Nemanja Vidic in particular. Even without the old fire and pace, he continued to bother them in Liverpool's 3-2 defeat at Old Trafford this season, forcing fouls from Jonny Evans and John O'Shea that allowed Steven Gerrard to score from a penalty and a free-kick.

In March 2009, in one of Rafael Benitez's finest post-Istanbul moments, Torres terrorised Vidic, who was so unsettled by his harrowing experience in Liverpool's 4-1 win at Old Trafford that he was eventually sent off for fouling Gerrard. He was also a scorer when Liverpool won 2-0 at Anfield later that year, another game Vidic failed to complete because of a red card.


Fernando Torres playing for Chelsea against Stoke

Torres has not scored since Liverpool's 3-0 win over Wolves on 22 January Photo: Getty

Torres cuts a contrasting figure these days, shorn of confidence because of injuries and seemingly struggling to adapt to life away from Anfield - but there has been just enough hints of the old verve on show to suggest claims that he is a spent force are ridiculously premature.

So unless Ancelotti goes for broke and fields both Torres and Droga, who is the man for the job? Opinions among fans and pundits differ.

BBC experts Mark Lawrenson and Alan Hansen - keen Torres watchers in recent years - believe he should not start the game ahead of Drogba.

Lawrenson told me: "Torres has form against Manchester United, but to be honest I wouldn't have him in the team on current form. He still looks very, very short to me and I would go with a 4-5-1, playing Drogba through the middle and Nicolas Anelka out wider."

And Hansen agreed as he said: "I would not pick him ahead of Didier Drogba if it came to an either or selection.

"I hear all the talk of how Torres is making runs off the ball and showing great enthusiasm but against Manchester City he barely touched the ball for 40 minutes, a great flick apart, and that can't be right.

"I greatly appreciate movement off the ball and all-round awareness in strikers but if you are not touching the ball or getting chances then there is a problem and I would go for Drogba against United if Ancelotti feels it is a choice between the two."

One man who happily admits he is in the minority when I posed him the question is former Chelsea and Scotland winger Pat Nevin - who prefaces his choice of Torres by insisting it is based on his admiration for the Spaniard rather than any disrespect or disdain for Drogba.

He said: "This is a difficult one. I would watch how things are going in training, analyse how they both are - and then choose Fernando Torres.

"I stress this is not anti-Drogba or being in anyway disdainful for a player I adore. I also know I am very much in the minority on this but I am just going on what I have seen this season.

"I don't think they work together, so it comes down to an either/or and I would go with Torres. I know what people have said about him since he came from Liverpool but I actually think he has been fabulous. His movement has been unbelievable and his attitude top class. The subtlety of his running is fantastic.

"And I should add that I would not have a problem or be on a downer, nor would it be anything like a hardship for Chelsea, if Drogba started ahead of Torres.

"Drogba has proved in the past he can raise himself for these big games and an important additional factor is that his attitude and approach after coming on as substitute this season has been great. They are both outstanding strikers but my preference would be for Torres.


Didier Drogba playing against Manchester United in April 2010

Drogba came off the bench to score in the 2-1 league win over Manchester United at Old Trafford in April 2010 Photo: Getty

"I think there is a tendency to judge Torres in an outrageously simplictic way and focus on his lack of goals since he came to Chelsea. I just look at what I see and as someone who spent his career trying to create things for these guys, I think I could find Torres time and time again."

I threw the debate open on Facebook and Twitter to gauge the reactions among fans of both Chelsea and United. Drogba just edged out Torres (although he had plenty of backers) among Chelsea supporters while United fans were split, with their fears about the latter based more on the past than present.

@CiaranMcMonagle on Twitter
said: "I have to believe that the occasion will 'finally' bring the best out of Fernando since his move."

And @dannypolicarpo said: "As a Man Utd fan i would say Torres to play, his form has been shocking all season regardless of what club he has played for."

@Fredrik0 on Twitter echoed the views of many when he added: "Torres to start and Drogba off the bench in 60th minute. Drogba is better as impact sub due to physicality."

@jazz15c voiced an opinion shared by many Chelsea fans when he said on Twitter: "Play them both...both have had joy against Vidic."

Angie Stewart on Facebook said: "Drogba ... not been his best for a while but still to be feared by United ... Torres on the other hand ... no hidden depths and nothing spectacular to speak of as yet."

Former Stamford Bridge idol Nevin accepts the stakes are high for all involved, but admires the calm manner in which the experienced Ancelotti has dealt with the pressure and speculation surrounding his tenure at Stamford Bridge.

He said: "It's very hard to tell how the outcome of this tie will effect Ancelotti's future. In the normal world if you win the Premier League and FA Cup double one season then it should hardly be a fatal blow if you don't win the Champions League the next.

"To make a judgement on how defeat in the Champions League would impact on Ancelotti's future you would have to know the inner workings of Chelsea Football Club and I don't.

"What I do know is that Ancelotti is an experienced manager who appears very calm and sanguine about his future. I think people expect more of a reaction than they get when he simply says he has a contract and is doing his job.

"I think globe-trotting, wise managers accept that there can be a short time period in a job. Ancelotti falls into that category and this enables him to adopt such a calm approach.

"He worked in a volatile atmosphere at AC Milan under Silvio Berlusconi and experiencing that sort of environment, and knowing how the game works at the highest level, means he knows the rules and also knows the rules can change quite quickly."

Ancelotti will need every ounce of his experience and calmness under pressure at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday - and that is just making his team selection.

You can follow me at twitter.com/philmcnulty and join me on Facebook.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    I'll go with Torres & Anelka. Drogba & Kalou to come in later (or I'll play all 3). Ramires, Zhirkov, Essien, Lampard. Too bad David Luiz can't play :(

  • Comment number 2.

    #thatawkwardmoment when Torres opens his Chelsea account with some scintillating piece of skill against Vidic yet again. The reason for Torres will be both psychological & tactical & not based on form. Hope he can score or give an assist on Wednesday.

  • Comment number 3.

    It dosen't really matter who starts or not. Torres or Drogba. They can't do against Manchester United nothing unless ref make a mistake. Manchester United playing really well even though they lost against Chelsea and Liverpool by some dodgy mistakes by ref. Anyway. I really have a feeling Drogba is more danger than Torres at the moment. Torres lost to touch and pace.

  • Comment number 4.

    Torres' record over Vidic is the great media myth based on a single game. Torres has only 3 goals in 8 games against united and Vidic was only responsible for one of them. While Vidic was sent off three times against Liverpool, none were the result of tackles on Torres. United would be alot happier to see Torres starting ahead of drogba.

  • Comment number 5.

    2. At 10:37am on 5th Apr 2011, GuusMourEss wrote:
    #thatawkwardmoment when Torres opens his Chelsea account with some scintillating piece of skill against Vidic yet again.

    __________________________________________________________________

    During the days when Torres used to give Vidic nightmares (ie quite a while ago) it was never scintillating skill that did it - it was clever positioning and raw pace. Also, Torres was on good form in those days. He's not now.

  • Comment number 6.

    If I was Abramovich I'd be asking for my £50m back. More seriously though, I don't think Torres and Drogba work together, it's got to be Kalou/Anelka with either Torres or Drogba. It will be a very close run thing over the two legs.

  • Comment number 7.

    My dream pair will be Drogba & Torres but I can't see them pairing up well. Both will give Vidic problems & yes I'm ignoring Smalling. lol! The match will be won in midfield. ManU will use the flanks and Chelsea will go down the middle. Wish we had Robben and Duff of old for this game

  • Comment number 8.

    @GuusMourEss

    I wouldn't worry yourself about Smalling, mate. Rio's training with United as we speak.

    Out of interest, and on the topic of CBs, who'll be coming in for Luiz?

  • Comment number 9.

    Drogba is the ultimate big game player. All round he is a finer lone striker, which is how Chelsea should approach the game.

    The real issue here is how badly Torres has performed for what is now in reality over 12 months. In the World Cup he was abysmal, albeit carrying an injury.

    Domestically from 2007/2009 he was imperious, bagging plenty of goals and killing off the lesser team out there. He also managed to turn it on against Chelsea, Man Utd and Everton with regularity.

    Outside of this, his Spain record is ok, and would be looked down upon quite poorly had he not notched that decider in Euro 2008. Other than this, his record for Atletico was never prolific and in the ECL he has flattered to deceive.

    Sum total - a massive gamble at £50m, one which is currently not paying off

  • Comment number 10.

    Alex should be coming in for Luiz.

  • Comment number 11.

    ztzt

    For his first competitive first-team game since... when?

  • Comment number 12.

    No matter what Torres should play, he is a known terroriser of Man Utd and Vidic in particular who would have had his confidence knocked after that challenge on Demba Ba on Saturday when he could have been sent off...

    Also... look at results in the matches Fernando Torres has started in for chelsea (excluding the first two when he was still adapting to the club having just been thrown in to play against his old side Liverpool and against Fulham):
    Copenhagen 0-2 Chelsea
    Chelsea 2-1 Man Utd
    Blackpool 1-3 Chelsea
    Chelsea 2-0 Man City

    He was on the bench against Copenhagen (at home) and Stoke and chelsea drew those matches not playing too well
    Torres' runs take the focus off other players and so the team play better, it doesn't matter who he starts with, as long as he starts

  • Comment number 13.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 14.

    I would go with Drogba upfront, I think he's the better option than Torres at present. For all his supposed brilliant movement, Torres has still failed to find the net and that it what he was bought to do. Drogba has more chance of scoring. On the other hand though, Torres can produce moments of brilliance as against Chelsea for Liverpool earlier in the season, even when he isn't at his best. Maybe this could be the game to set his career at chelsea in motion, time will tell.

    At present £50 million is looking an awful lot of money for a player who hasn't been consistently good for 18 months now. Even playing in one of the best international sides of all time he looked like a passenger and was eventually dropped at the WC in place of Pedro. I know it's a bit of a cliché, but Torres seems like a confidence player, and at the moment he looks like he has none, and hasn't for a while now. It's a shame to see someone who once lit up the league looking such a forlorn figure at time.

    My big worry for him though is that he'll end up like Michael Owen, brilliant in his younger years due to his pace to beat players, but losing some of that ability after several troublesome muscle injuries, like Torres too has began suffering. Owen will still get you goals because he is a natural finisher and has excellent movement, but no longer scares defenders like he once used to. Torres is starting to go down a similar route, and time will tell if he can get back to the preformance levels of 07/08 and 08/09.

  • Comment number 15.

    Also... look at results in the matches Fernando Torres has started in for chelsea (excluding the first two when he was still adapting to the club having just been thrown in to play against his old side Liverpool and against Fulham):
    Copenhagen 0-2 Chelsea
    Chelsea 2-1 Man Utd
    Blackpool 1-3 Chelsea
    Chelsea 2-0 Man City

    =============================================================
    So you are saying forget the games where Torrez played and Chelsea lost and look at the games where he played and Chelsea won even though Torrez didn't/hasn't contributed to Chelsea since his arrival.

    I hope Torrez plays. His form is shot to bits and he hasn't played consistently for 3yrs.

  • Comment number 16.

    Have it

  • Comment number 17.

    As a United fan, Drogba worries me a lot more than Torres.

  • Comment number 18.

    Season 2011/2012 Carlo out, Rafa in?

  • Comment number 19.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 20.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 21.

    Sorry Phil, there is usually some merit to your blogs, but this one really is dire. Trotting out the same old journo's myth that Vidic fears Torres. Anyone would think Torres had scored hat tricks the last 10 times he has faced Vidic. Why no mention of Chelsea's lack of Luiz. Why no mention of whether Man Utd will play Rooney as a lone striker, or play him deeper with Hernandez' pace as a threat, why no mention a to why the premier leagues top scorer isn't getting much of a look in???

  • Comment number 22.

    haha, and with Rafa at the healm talking about past glories

  • Comment number 23.

    As United fan, probably would prefer to face Torres at the moment. He has a great record against United but I think he just looks one step behind at the moment. Yes his movement has been good, but it would be better if it ended up with the ball at his feet and in the back of the net!

    Drogba meanwhile has a point to prove. He wants to be the top-dog of the strikers and rightly so. His goal against Stoke was exactly the type of goal that United concede and his power and physical ability would make him feared for a defence maturing together.

    Can't wait for this match, obviously wanting United to win but hopefully at least getting an enjoyable game.

  • Comment number 24.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 25.

    Many people are forgetting the most important thing...a win in the game for the team. Be it Drogba, Anelka, Torres, Kalou, Lampard, Terry, Malouda, Essien, whoever scores will be celebrated by all team members. Chelsea is a team made up of multi talented players, whom almost all (except Mikel) can score goals. This team knows how to get results and on a good day will beat ALL teams in the PL with ease. THEY ARE POTENT

  • Comment number 26.



    Many people are forgetting the most important thing...a win in the game for the team. Be it Drogba, Anelka, Torres, Kalou, Lampard, Terry, Malouda, Essien, whoever scores will be celebrated by all team members. Chelsea is a team made up of multi talented players, whom almost all (except Mikel) can score goals. This team knows how to get results and on a good day will beat ALL teams in the PL with ease. THEY ARE POTENT

    --------------------------------------------------------

    What a stupid and useless post!!

  • Comment number 27.

    fernando torres is the biggest flop since andrey shevchenko. i hope he never scores a goal in a chelsea shirt and he is absolute crap. Drogba is a quality player who i think is still and annoying person and is only a cristiano ronaldo wannabe. Then you have anelka who is also rubbish and you have sent Daniel Sturridge, Chelsea's best striker on loan has scored more goals than torres and will score more than drogba anyway. Torres is poor and i hope he never ever scores for chelsea. Stupid ditcher, he done well for liverpool nand turned his back on them!

  • Comment number 28.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 29.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 30.

    I will probably be jumped on for saying this, but I think Torres is finished. last season there was a guy who was injured and played under benetez and I genuinely think it broke him. Rooney wasn't far off the same road either and it's luck he isn't in the broken down yard. I don't believe Torres enjoys the game, I think he hasn't recovered psychologically from an extremely poor world cup for him personally, even though his team won it, and he hasn't recovered from what has turned out to be an abject failure at liverpool over the last two seasons. There are no excuses. Liverpool jumped at 50 million for him because they knew he is finished. If he plays tonight it's handing the tie to United. Drogba has had malaria and is only coming back to form... Anelka hasn't got the mentality to beat United, Drogba has. If Chelsea want to go through, Drogba is the man. We will see how well United Do in Defence tonight, I think they are capable of tearing chlesea apart if they go for the jugular from the start.

  • Comment number 31.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 32.

    Newbs....... firstly 'Torres' is spelt with an 's' not a 'z'
    also he clearly has contributed because as I showed, the games when he has STARTED (after those first two when any new signing would still be adapting) chelsea have WON

    He may not be scoring, but he's allowing other players room to play by having the defence focus on him!!!!

    and anyway..... FORM IS TEMPORARY, CLASS IS PERMANENT, so your wrong

  • Comment number 33.

    31. At 13:17pm on 5th Apr 2011, Mr Chelsea wrote:

    I think they are capable of tearing chlesea apart if they go for the jugular from the start.
    =========================================

    Hmm what do you base this on? Our defence isnt West Ham's defence
    -------------------------------------------------------

    I don't think any defence would fancy any combination of Valencia and ( giggs, nani, park) running at them from the wings, with Berbatov and or Rooney and hernandez coming through the middle. That's what I am basing it on....just having watched them, I am not saying United will, I am just pointing out if they do, I wouldn't be surprised...not half as surprised as i would be if chelsea hammered United..

  • Comment number 34.

    If Chelsea play Torres, Man U will win simple as that. United are playing with confidence Chelsea aren't. Is Torres the new Shevchenko - I think so. I don't know why Fulham fans are complaining about the new Michael Jackson statue. I'm sure their's was cheaper than the £50 million Chelsea payed for their's

  • Comment number 35.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 36.

    Torres' football ability came from his blond highlights, when he cut them off he lost his powers

  • Comment number 37.

    I would go with both of them, play torres and drogba up front with lampard and essien in the middle and malouda on the left and ramires on the right. Despite the fact that both torres and drogba are not in a terrific run of form i think it would be the wrong choice to leave either one out, both are an extremely dangerous threat to united as both are good in the air and on the ground and if they get servie then they will get the goals im sure.

  • Comment number 38.

    29. At 13:09pm on 5th Apr 2011, Mr Chelsea wrote:

    27. At 13:04pm on 5th Apr 2011, joe wrote:

    fernando torres is the biggest flop since andrey shevchenko. i hope he never scores a goal in a chelsea shirt and he is absolute crap. Drogba is a quality player who i think is still and annoying person and is only a cristiano ronaldo wannabe. Then you have anelka who is also rubbish and you have sent Daniel Sturridge, Chelsea's best striker on loan has scored more goals than torres and will score more than drogba anyway. Torres is poor and i hope he never ever scores for chelsea. Stupid ditcher, he done well for liverpool nand turned his back on them!
    --------------------------------------

    iz u serius abwt diz? u beta rekognize nando's talunt othawyse u iz dizzy blad.


    ==================================

    Translation anyone?

  • Comment number 39.

    @ TB

    It makes you wonder if there is actually some kind of link between his blond and his good form. Maybe it's a mental problem, the fact that his great form and days he was worshiped by his club's faithfuls were with his blond, more vibrant look. Now he looks miserable and sulking with the brown, dull hair.

  • Comment number 40.

    I'm not buying into the "flop" chanting for Torres. He's a top quality player and I'm expecting him to blossom next season.

    Coming into the quarter finals, I can say two things with certainty:
    a) Torres numbers of touching the ball would have me concerned - runs are good, but runs without being prime danger for the opposition when you're a striker are puzzling me a bit
    b) Drogba was lethal at Stoke on his goal - it was sublime. He also almost had a second. Drogba looks like he's made for these games.

    All I know is I'm going to enjoy these matches. Can't wait for them.

    also:
    iz u serius abwt diz? u beta rekognize nando's talunt othawyse u iz dizzy blad.


    ==================================

    Translation anyone?

    yes, why not:
    eisai sigouros gi auto? einai protimotero na anagnwrizeis (kati) alliws moiazeis me zalismeno aima, if I'm correct :)

  • Comment number 41.

    Actually I fear two very boring matches, ............but I hope for tons of goals

  • Comment number 42.

    @ 41, collie21,

    the last match at Stamford Bridge was no close to a boring match. United went for the win. They just tired in the second half, where Chelsea had the initiative.

    I would expect United to go and attack on Wednesday, as they need that away goal. Chelsea will attack because they need to win and they play at home. United on the other hand will be vulnerable at the back. Ferdinand may come back, but being his first match after a long injury makes me uncertain on his confidence, just like Vidic had the same problem perhaps on Saturday.

    Chelsea v Man Utd matches tend to keep ups hooked on that seat for the duration of the match.

  • Comment number 43.

    I don't actually agree United are so Vulnerable at the back, I think it's a bit of media upping the situation, Smalling has done wonderfully, Vidic is back, .....I think Evra will be okay, ....so the back 4 should, SHOULD be okay against a chelsea attack that might not be firing on all cylinders......United (even though it's chelsea) will approach the away leg 'not to lose' ...and get a goal on the break, at on the home leg, to go hell for leather.....

  • Comment number 44.

    @ 43, I could almost pray to God to make that certainty of yours about the solidity of the United defense a fact :)

    It springs to mind time and again the Smalling positions on the Chelsea goals on the last match. Smalling doesn't stop impressing me this season, but he needs time and, unfortunately, he's not given it this season with the well documented injury problems to Ferdinand and Vidic.

    It's not about having Ferdinand and Vidic back together. It's about having them back together, having had some matches together too, I'm afraid.

    It's going to be a cracker of a match, I believe.
    With regard to predicting the outcome of the two ties, I'd rather go with Hansen in tossing a coin to satisfy my curiosity.

  • Comment number 45.

    Pat Nevin:
    "This is a difficult one. I would watch how things are going in training, analyse how they both are - and then choose Fernando Torres.

    If you are going to just choose Torres then what is the point analysing or watching anything?

    I am going to the shop today to buy some fruit, I will look at the freshness and price of all the fruit - and then just choose apples regardless.

  • Comment number 46.

    Jenks
    Also... look at results in the matches Fernando Torres has started in for chelsea (excluding the first two when he was still adapting to the club having just been thrown in to play against his old side Liverpool and against Fulham):
    Copenhagen 0-2 Chelsea
    Chelsea 2-1 Man Utd
    Blackpool 1-3 Chelsea
    Chelsea 2-0 Man City

    =============================================================
    Man City game 0 - 0 until Torres went off
    United game losing until Torres went off

  • Comment number 47.

    Drogba and Torres are two professional world class players. They should be able to form a partnership together but there seems to be no love between the two. They don't even speak to each other on the pitch. If i was Carlo I would get them in the office and tell them in the best interests of the club, and in their best interests as well, they have to work at playing together. At the moment it doesn't even look like happening. For that reason you cannot start them both. The team has to come first which means Drogba and Anelka should start

  • Comment number 48.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 49.

    @ 48, Mr Chelsea,

    in my books, the winner of United / Chelsea will go past Inter / Shalke 04 and be able to test their strength against Barcelona.

  • Comment number 50.

    cech
    Bosingwa Cole
    Terry Ivanovic
    Mikel

    Lampard Essien Ramirez

    Torres

    Drogba

  • Comment number 51.

    When Cole and Bosingwa overlap, Mikel and Ramirez can cover for them. Essien can also cover for Terry but should play in front of Mikel so we his attacking instincts are not curbed. Drogba point and Torres behind. Torres can move to the left or right and can exchange roles with Lampard. Drogba point. He should be told to stay in the box.

  • Comment number 52.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 53.

    I don't know why Fulham fans are complaining. I'm sure their statue was cheaper than the £50m Chelsea paid for theirs.

  • Comment number 54.

    Should Drogba or Torres face Man Utd?

    Posting:
    Bosingwa - Ivanovic - Terry - Cole

    Ramires - Essien - Lampard - Zhirkov

    Drogba - Torres

    Reckon that will be the starting line-up, and fingers crossed it will work, but...

    Essien will HAVE to be responsible and maintain his defensive duties (with Ramires dropping back if Essien goes forward) and...

    One of Drogba or Torres (or rotating) will have to play deeper. Think it could work if we had more time (i.e a pre-season!) to work on it - remember Drogs and Anelka were rubbish together at first too - but very worried that Utd could dominate the midfield or hit us on the break.

    COME ON YOU BLUES!!!

  • Comment number 55.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 56.

    @21.

    Are you stupid or ignorant? What was it about the blog entitled 'Should Drogba or Torres face Man Utd' made you think it would mention Rooney or Berbatov?

  • Comment number 57.

    54. At 14:46pm on 5th Apr 2011, Chico11 wrote:

    - but very worried that Utd could dominate the midfield or hit us on the break.

    ____________________________________________________________________


    Dominate the midfield? Have you watched any United games this season?!

    If this game is won in the middle of the park, it will be won by Chelsea.

    If it is won in final thirds, it will be won by us.

  • Comment number 58.

    57, I think I know what you mean..........it's the flanks, Valencia will be key.

  • Comment number 59.

    collie21

    Yeh, re-reading that it did appear a bit metaphysical... even nonsensical.

    I suppose what I mean is that, if the game ends up taking place as a war of attrition in the centre of the park, with most of the time spend attacking arising only from midfield dominance, then Chelsea will win.

    If, however, the game is free flowing, and teams are bypassing the midfield and getting into attacking positions with greater regularity, I think we will win.

    Chelsea better compact. United better stretched.

  • Comment number 60.

    Tomorrow it isn't about winning for United. It's about scoring and keeping it tight at the back. For Chelsea is about scoring and not conceding. The more you think about it, the more complicated it looks.

  • Comment number 61.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 62.

    QUADRUPLE TREBLE DOUBLE TITLE 4TH:

    Man City game 0 - 0 until Torres went off
    United game losing until Torres went off

    TORRES PLAYED THE FULL 90 MINS AGAINST MAN UTD!!!!!!! do your research before you make a needless, stupid comment

    and as for man city, the two goals were just two brilliant finishes by two brazilian heroes, you're clearly just a Man Utd fan who is angry that your best striker is on at least a two match ban!!!!

  • Comment number 63.

    As a MANU fan, whether Chelsea plays Drogba or Torres or both of them the win will depend on SAF's team selection. If SAF play again the combination of Giggs, Scholes and Berbatov Chelsea will definately win.

    But if SAF leave the three of them on the bench and decide to go with the combination from Nani, Hernadez, Rooney, Park, Valencia and Anderson in the team MANU will play good football and win the game.

  • Comment number 64.

    62. At 15:17pm on 5th Apr 2011, Jenks wrote:

    you're clearly just a Man Utd fan who is angry that your best striker is on at least a two match ban!!!!

    ___________________________________________________________________


    And your'e clearly just a Chelsea fan who is angry that all four of your strikers are on some kind of holiday with each other.

  • Comment number 65.

    I think it will be either a draw or chelsea win for the very simple fact that their defense is better. They will all top defenders across the back 4, and can play Ramires, Essien or Mikel in front of them and rove across the pitch if needed.

    United on the other hand will have no Ferdinand (although the way Smalling has been playing its not been a loss) and probably Fabio at right back, which is a big problem against Chelsea's height and his positioning is not too good. Only defensive option left in midfield is Carrick and that's the poor man's option to say the least.

    Torres/Drogba, Anelka, Malouda, Lampard, vs. Hernandez/Berbatov, Nani, Valencia, & Rooney...all can win matches

  • Comment number 66.

    @ 61, Mr Chelsea,

    still, though, these two matches are not Premiership matches.
    The more I think about it the more I get confused for good reasons.
    Let me confuse you a bit, too: :)
    a) United should be high on confidence after Saturday, yet against Chelsea we have a poor record.
    b) Chelsea should be low on confidence after Saturday, yet against United they tend to find that extra bit of inner strength
    c) United should have more solidarity after Saturday - they're striving on adverse. Yet again, for some of your stars, it could be last chance saloon (or whatever they call it) - Drogba, Terry, Essien, Lampard are great units to have in such occasions.
    d) Chelsea are stronger in midfield, as Mr Kanchelskis admitted earlier, yet on the last match we were doing quite well in domination on the first half, before the United team started tiring in the second half.
    e) we may have some sort of advantage on the wings, but what about the back? If Ferdinand comes back after such a long period of absence, how confident will he be? And, if Smalling plays, will he arise to the occasion after his last match's experience at Stamford Bridge?
    f) we may say we have good counter attack, especially from the wings, but the Chelsea defensive line, these days in particular,
    g) Torres is an enigma these days in Chelsea, but so is Berbatov against strong defensive partnerships
    h) It isn't about points, it's about a good first result, which is totally different to what we experience in Premiership matches.

    Did enough in sharing my confusion? :)
    All I know is I will toss my coin, as Alan Hansen said in his predictions and I will watch every minute of the match, tomorrow.

  • Comment number 67.

    57. Dominate the midfield? Have you watched any United games this season?!

    Yes, but i think (at least in London) Fergie will deploy a holding midfielder, whereas Essien and Lamps sometimes break forward together and get caught out. If Ramires and Zhirkov tuck in this will not be a problem, but we will have no width.


    55. Hey I know we havent been brilliant this season but dropping Cech for Posting is madness.

    Ha! But surely 'Posting' would still be better than Hilario! ;)

  • Comment number 68.

    niro_d_wolf

    I'm not sure I agree about the generalisation that Chelsea's defence 'is better'.

    Evra and Cole -at their best - are on a par. Evra has not hit the heights this season, so lets give that one to Cole.

    Ferdinand actually should be back for this, and I'd pick him over Terry or Alex.

    Vidic - as borne out by today's PFA nomination for POTY - is the best defender in the PL, and again I'd take him over either of Chelsea's CBs.

    RB will be our problem position. Fabio has acquitted himself well when asked to play there, but lacks the big-game experience in that position, so obviously Ivanonic or Bosingwa win that like-for-like comparison.

    However, there's also the hidden element of the CB PAIRING. Whether it's Ferdinand or Smalling alongside Vidic, there'll be a pairing that have either played together countless times in the past, or have played together a lot recently, unlike Terry-Alex, which will be a potential liability in terms of communication, line-holding, etc.

    So, on balance, I'd say Utd will be taking to the field with the marginally stronger defence, which supports my earlier assertion about who will win the game depending on where on the pitch it is largely played.

  • Comment number 69.

    68, kanchelskis_legend,

    something tells me that Ancelotti will use Ivanovich with Terry and will play Bosingua right full back. I think it's early for Alex to walk into the team after such a long absence.

  • Comment number 70.

    all i know is that, as a united fan, when i see drogba on the pitch my pants get dirty.

    do us a favour and play torres!

  • Comment number 71.

    The game at Stamford Bridge was great because both teams wanted - and needed - to win. Champions' League fixtures are often a different kettle of fish. The away goal rule often ruins the more evenly-matched fixtures by making the home team too cautious, and a 1-0 victory for the home side in the first leg, or even a 0-0, is viewed as an acceptable result all round. Also, there is something a bit mundane about seeing two English sides face off in the CL. We'd rather see a clash between one of our best and one of the top Spanish or Italian sides, and Spurs v Real Madrid should be good. Because these teams don't face each other 3 or 4 times a season like United and Chelsea, there will be a welcome freshness about the tie, especially for cheapskates like me who don't have ESPN and therefore can't watch la liga.
    Hope I'm wrong, hope it's a great game - but it isn't MASSIVELY appealing for me as a neutral, though I shall probably still watch.

    On Torres v Drogba, it's a question of who best fits in with the style and shape that Chelsea are most comfortable playing. That is Drogba. However, I don't remember Anelka ever doing anything against United in a Chelsea shirt except miss a penalty, so maybe they should both be thrown on, Anelka ditched, and we'll see what happens (this last sentence being a fine example of why I'm not a football manager).

  • Comment number 72.

    69. At 16:01pm on 5th Apr 2011, Football_UK wrote:

    68, kanchelskis_legend,

    something tells me that Ancelotti will use Ivanovich with Terry and will play Bosingua right full back. I think it's early for Alex to walk into the team after such a long absence.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I totally agree

  • Comment number 73.

    , kanchelskis_legend wrote:
    @GuusMourEss
    I wouldn't worry yourself about Smalling, mate. Rio's training with United as we speak.
    Out of interest, and on the topic of CBs, who'll be coming in for Luiz?
    _______________________________________________________________________

    I Doubt that Alex will start as its his first competitive game in ages. As bosingwa started against Stoke I think he will play and Ivanovic will go back inside.

  • Comment number 74.

    right so if torres scores it's because he's "troubling vidic" and if vidic fouls say ashley cole and drogba scores from a free-kick, then it's because torres was "troubling vidic". and if vidic gets sent off after fouls on say drogba and ramires it was because he had been traumatised by torres winning a throw-in off him earlier in the game

    hilariously inept cliched reportage once again

  • Comment number 75.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 76.

    My team selection would be as follows:

    Cech
    A.Cole
    Terry
    Ivanovic
    Bosingwa
    Ramires
    Essien
    Lampard
    Zhirkov
    Torres
    Malouda
    Kalou

  • Comment number 77.

    hopefully both as they will then get in each others way. WOuld be more worried about Drogba playing

  • Comment number 78.

    @Matt

    Thank god you're not Chelsea manager.

    Can you imagine the embarrassment of the ref telling you you have to take one of your players off even before kick-off, just to even things up?

  • Comment number 79.

    Ancelotti is a very good manager. Last season, he achieved the double with a team unchanged for years. It's credit to him.
    What I admire in him, apart from his technical ability is the calm realism during and after a match. He tends to dislike the British antics of managers and follows matches with a clear mind.

    On Saturday, I liked him telling the truth, simply, fair and square. Chelsea drew but they could have won, could have lost. British managers tend to seek escape goats.

    This season, Chelsea started with all blades glazing. The team was weakened though and I much doubt it was his own doing. When my mind goes to the players released and not replaced, I always think of some dark rooms with balance sheets around. And what for? The need for freshening was blatant and eventually money was spent rather in a hurry.

    After Ramires started getting used to the English game, weather and culture, also with the addition of Luiz, we suddenly see Chelsea starting ticking again. Yet, the manager remains the same.

    Something tells me that many Chelsea fans allocate responsibilities for misfortunes to the wrong shoulders.

  • Comment number 80.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 81.

    Phil McNulty

    I threw the debate open on Facebook and Twitter to gauge the reactions among fans of both Chelsea and United. Drogba just edged out Torres (although he had plenty of backers) among Chelsea supporters while United fans were split, with their fears about the latter based more on the past than present.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------
    As you're employed by the BBC, why did you go to Twitter and Facebook first?

  • Comment number 82.

    @ 78. kanchelskis_legend

    hahahahaaa

  • Comment number 83.

    @ 80, Mr Chelsea,

    when it comes to football and England in the same sentence and blame is to be allocated, I tend to hand it to media without even thinking.

    Guess what: 99% of the times I'm correct :)

  • Comment number 84.

    #80 spot on

    write the story, then try and get a quote to headline it. regardless of whether the story's got any truth to it at all, use it and move it on to the next one. just tired hackneyed drivel, sponsored by a lazy and/or stupid captive audience of biased idiots, happy to go along with it as long as it isn't one of their own that is being picked on.

  • Comment number 85.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 86.

    I used to love Torres at Liverpool and he gave us 2 good seasons where his goalscoring form was nothing short of sensational. But apart from those 2 seasons Fernwho? has never been a prolific scorer when you consider the stats, that are in 7 years at Atletico he didnt score 20 goals in season.

    Yes he was clinical at Liverpool for a while but certain strikers go through their career and only have 2/3seasons at the absolute peak of their powers. In my opinion he has already hit his peak, yes he will have the occaisional flurry of goals like any other forward, but scoring 25/30+ per season is in the past and it may not return. At the end of his career at Chelsea i predict he will average around 1 goal every 4 games, not exactly £50million worth eh?

    This is, of course only my opininion.

  • Comment number 87.

    @ 85, Mr Chelsea,

    the media will tell the truth about individuals in football only once: that one time is when they retire from the game. Every other time, prior to that, we read, listen and "learn" whatever their editor / manager believes it would cause gossip and increase publicity. The funny thing is they believe we don't know it :)

  • Comment number 88.

    disagree ciderman, Torres is still capable of getting 15-20 goals per season. Cheslea need to build their team around him to get the best out of him, just like Rafa did. Only then will you see how good Torres still is.

  • Comment number 89.

    86, Ciderman88,

    of course, you conveniently forget that, those 7 years at Valencia, Torres was a kid learning his trade. You also forget, conveniently toot that, at Liverpool, the whole team was playing for Torres, as Rafa Benitez was an extra defending manager playing the counter attack and, apart from Torres, Liverpool had no other class-act striker - the whole system was based on easing the way for Torres.

    At Chelsea, Torres found himself in a team with a strong line of attack who had just created some record on goals scored in the Premiership and anyone apart from Cech and poor Mikel can score with ease. It isn't the same. Is it?

    It isn't wrong to tell the truth, you know. To give you an analogy, myself, as a Man Utd fan, when Tevez left the club for City and SAF and Gills were saying at the time that Tevez wasn't good enough, I had a clear enough frame of mind to write my opinion in some articles here - and on 606 - and did receive my fair share of loathing from other United fans. Still, truth always prevail - Tevez is the menace in City's attack today.

    When it comes to Torres and Liverpool, the paradox is that, besides Rafa Benitez was guaranteeing Champions League football, mid season, he failed miserably, got a huge compensation and left to Milan to destroy another team, getting even more compensation for that. In the mean time, he left a world class player at the peak of his career, puzzled with what he should do in his life. Yet, most of Liverpool supporters appear to still adore Rafa Benitez and loath Torres. I don't think it's fair.

  • Comment number 90.

    Need to get your facts right Football Uk
    1) Torres played for Ahletico not Valencia
    2) Rafa played a sytem which quite a few prem managers play now,why?.. because it an adaptable formation
    3) Rafa was hardly a manager that played defensively or played constant counter attack, smashing 4 past your team, Madrid and beating Barca away with ease was hardly defensive or CA

    The truth is Rafa knew how to get the best from Nando, Rafa's biggest mistake was not having a striker similar when Nand was injured...a lot.

  • Comment number 91.

    Oh another thing, Rafa didn't get a huge payoff from us as he found work straight away with Inter

  • Comment number 92.

    @ 90, Reinasbaldhead,

    apologies for the "Valencia". I shouldn't concentrate on more than one things at a time :)
    I am sure you know, since you mentioned Atletico, that Torres was never interested in money and fame and he preferred to support and play for Atletico, the poor relatives in Madrid, for his own reasons. It only makes your reaction to leaving your club worse and makes you appear even worse losers.

    Also, I am really not interesting in turning this into a conversation about Liverpool, Benitez and whatever Liverpool fans rave on talking about, week in, week out.

    All I know is that Rafa Benitez has expressed quite a few times his desire to manage in England again, for some time now, he put his public relations to work on that and, for all I know, I wouldn't be surprised if you find a little paper on the free advertisements in your local supermarket writing "Spanish football manager is actively seeking club to manage".

    What I know is Rafa made Nando's out of a Liverpool club with a great history, my friend.

  • Comment number 93.

    wow so many idiots on here. Torres is awesome. Chelsea will knock United out.

  • Comment number 94.

    You brought the Rafa thing up first and really didn't engage your brain before writing some of that tripe.
    You're also missing my point, I don't blame Torres for leaving but it wasn't Rafa's fault.

  • Comment number 95.

    @ 93 Loyal_blue,

    I tossed the coin too but it was heads on me.
    Will Chelsea knock United out tomorrow or will it be required to pay attention on the return leg too?
    You made me look worried now :)

  • Comment number 96.

    94, Reinasbaldhead,

    I support United. I don't have a brain to engage :)
    Have a good day :)

  • Comment number 97.

    Fair enough lads I'm only saying what I think.

    Torres is now 27, his pace which was his key component in his skills has already started to diminish, ( whether this is due to injuries is up for debate) but now he has started to slow down ever so slightly Chelsea fans WILL realise that his decision making,work rate and passing is not world class. The reason he has been so succesful is because of pace and finishing. He is capable of scoring goals because he won't lose that instinct permantly but, again, in my opinion he needs to alter his game.

    I'll always thank him for the goals at Liverpool but for £50million Chelsea have been well and truly done, buying a shadow of a former player who hasn't been right for 18months.

  • Comment number 98.

    As you're employed by the BBC, why did you go to Twitter and Facebook first?

    GOOD POINT
    ===============================

  • Comment number 99.

    I suppose I shouldn't be suprised by some very bias and unjustified comments from both Chelsea fans and Man U alike. Alan Hansen has clearly let emotions and his close friendship to Kenny cloud his judgement over Torres. If he was still in a Liverpool shirt we all known he would be singing a different song about the Spaniard, but I can understand why he has taken this view.

    As a Chelsea fan I am more optimistic over Torres as you would expect, and I do find the talk that he has 'lost it' ludicrous. Similarly the talks over Rooney would have annoyed the Man U fans and the player himself. Both are unjustified. I have always admired Torres despite having a good recored against us and similarly I admired Thierry Henry at Arsenal as well.

    Torres like Rooney had injury problems in the latter stages of last season and then had to get through a World Cup. Both suffered and never recaptured form. Rooney has begun his return to the top a little earlier than Torres but despite the lack of goals you wouldn't keep either out of your squad. I have no doubt we will see the best of Torres next season once he has had time to settle and recover. Remember Berbatov? His first couple of seasons after a big money move were awful and didn't play last season. He was given 2 seasons so Torres should at least be given 1.

    The match will be won or lost at the Bridge similarly to the Real Madrid match. If Tottenham or Man U get a goal then this will cause massive problems for Madrid and Chelsea respectively. However, if they prevent them from scoring then the tie is theirs to throw away. I think Torres and Drogba both should start. They may not link up together but this would would be my two. Torres has a pyschological advantage over Vidic. 1 of the earlier posts claimed it was a media myth, as Torres has only scored 3 times and wasn't the one fouled for the sending off's. The fact is that it was Torres's movement which stretched Vidic all game, this weared him down and he loses focus. This loss of focus effects his judgement and hence why he gets sent off when Torres is on the pitch. It dosen't matter who starts as we will still have a least 1 world class striker on the bench.

  • Comment number 100.

    Whoever play up front for Chelsea needs to be at the top of their game, neither Torres or Drogba are there yet, but Le sulk is, so Le Sulk and Kalou to start with Drogba and Torres to warm the bench till needed.

 

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