Chelsea v Man Utd: Looking Back

Tonight’s game is the 68th meeting between the two clubs in the league at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea’s first meeting with Manchester United game was during the Blues’ first season in the football league and took place in April 1906, finishing as a 1-1 draw.

Chelsea fans had to wait almost fourteen years before the first home win over United, thanks to a single goal from World War I veteran Jack Cock in January 1920. Chelsea’s record against United at Stamford Bridge before World War II wasn’t spectacular – three wins in thirteen games -but one of those victories was a memorable 6-2 thrashing in September 1930 that featured a hat-trick by Alec Cheyne and two goals from fellow Scottish international Hughie Gallagher.

Amazingly, almost twenty years passed before Chelsea beat Manchester United at home again – Hugh Billington was the only goalscorer in November 1950 – and although the Blues won the League Championship in 1954/55, the 6-5 home defeat by United in October 1954 was Ted Drake’s side’s third home defeat that season. Seamus O’Connell –who despite his name was an England amateur international  – emulated Cheyne’s feat by scoring a hat-trick.

Although it’s highly unlikely that tonight’s game will finish 6-5, it’s noticeable that the 5-0 win over United in October 1999 seems to have heralded an era of Chelsea dominance over United in recent seasons. Since then, Chelsea have only lost once at Stamford Bridge in the Premiership to their northern rivals and have kept six clean sheets in their last ten meetings against United in West London: although goals have been at a premium recently, tonight’s game should be another fascinating chapter in a rivalry that’s been established for over a century.

Premiership Roundup

As the Sky commentators kept reminding us yesterday, last weekend was a historical one in the Premiership as all twenty teams managed to score.

Obviously, some teams managed to score more than once: new leaders Manchester United put seven past Blackburn Rovers (Blackburn’s biggest defeat in the Premiership since Arsenal beat them 6-2 at the Emirates last October) with Dimitar Berbatov hitting five. Arsenal and West Brom scored four goals at Aston Villa and Everton respectively and all these goals are contributing to a very healthy 2.75 goals per game – which is still fewer than the Bundesliga (3.21), but a lot more than Serie A (2.25).

Having said that, there are still some teams that don’t seem to be able to manage to score in front of their own fans. Manchester City and Birmingham are the worst culprits: City haven’t scored at Eastlands in the league since early October, while two goals at St. Andrews is a bit of a goal glut these days. Away from home six teams (including Liverpool) are scoring less than one goal per game.

United’s win gave them a two point lead over Chelsea and Arsenal – who are only seperated by goal difference – while at the bottom West Ham’s second home win of the season meant that there are now only six points between the bottom six clubs. Somewhat surprisingly, Everton are without a win in their last six games and could be in for an uncomfortable December if that trend continues.

It’s beginning to look as if QPR will replace one of the relegated teams next season: the last time Rangers played in the Premiership was in 95/96 but they took another step on the road to top tier football with a 2-1 win over 2nd placed Cardiff Cityat the weekend.

The draw for the 3rd Round of the FA Cup took place on Sunday evening, although traditionalists like myself would prefer it if the ‘celebrities’ ITV chose to carry out ball drawing duties were people I’d heard of. I’m young enough to remember Oasis’ glory days, but I had no idea what a ‘Kasabian’ looked like until yesterday. If Wagner and/or Jedward are roped in for the fourth round draw don’t say I didn’t warn you.

It came as something of a surprise that there was only one all Premiership tie, but presumably ITV execs will have been squealing with excitement when Manchester United and Liverpool were drawn together. The twelve games featuring Prem teams against Championship opposition may be a record, but Spurs’ record of actually winning something when the year ends in a one will get off to a good start if they can beat either Charlton or Luton.

Newcastle’s last trip to Stevenage ended in a memorable draw and those of you with long memories will remember that once upon a time Manchester City beat Leicester in the 1969 final (winning goal scored by Canadian hippie Neil Young) and Leeds beat Arsenal in the first Cup Final I ever saw in colour.

Finally, the decision on who is awarded the next two World Cups will be made on Thursday afternoon but it’s unlikely that football will be coming home in 2018 – in fact, some of the bookies have now priced Portugal and Spain ahead of us. So if I come across as slightly grumpy when I report the decision, it’s also because I’ve had a filling earlier in the day.