Sensational battles, stunning goals and infamous slip-ups. There’s always something to talk about when these two clubs go nose to nose
Manchester United v Chelsea, Sunday 28 April, 4pm, Sky Sports Premier League/HD (CH 512/502)
Even if they’re meeting in a pre-season friendly on the other side of the world, it’s always worth tuning in when Manchester United and Chelsea lock horns. And when it’s a crucial showdown in the race for the top four, it’s unmissable.
Two of English football’s most celebrated clubs will square off on Sky Sports Premier League this Sunday in what could be a season-defining encounter for both teams. With the campaign entering the final straight, time is running out for United and Chelsea to secure a place at European football’s top table next year. Faltering at this vital hurdle could prove a fatal error.
This weekend’s clash is the latest chapter in what is an engrossing rivalry between two sides loaded with top talent. Chances are it’s going to be as headline-grabbing as ever, but to get you in the mood ahead of the match at Old Trafford, take a look back at five of their most memorable meetings.
1. Double delight for United (1994)
Manchester United 4-0 Chelsea
With a second consecutive Premier League crown secured, United made their way to a sodden Wembley for the FA Cup Final with a first ever double in their sights. But there was a catch. Standing in their way was Chelsea, a side that had already beaten them twice in the league that season. Could it be third time lucky for the Blues, who had Glenn Hoddle as player-manager? No, is the short answer. Two penalties from Eric Cantona, plus goals from Mark Hughes and Brian McClair – all scored in the second half – saw Alex Ferguson’s Red Devils romp to victory.
2. Five-star Chelsea (1999)
Chelsea 5-0 Manchester United
Reputations don’t mean much in football. A couple of months into the 1999-2000 campaign United were on top of the world thanks to their treble-winning heroics the previous season. Cue a humiliating crash-landing at Stamford Bridge. A goal after just 28 seconds from Gus Poyet set the tone, with less-than-reliable goalkeeper Massimo Taibi at fault. Nicky Butt got sent off for a clash with Dennis Wise (who else?), Chelsea scored another four, and United’s 29-match unbeaten run in the league, which stretched back to the previous December, was over.
3. A noughties classic (2000)
Manchester United 3-3 Chelsea (2000)
At the turn of the millennium, matches between United and Chelsea were absolute goalfests. Before this thriller in September 2000 a combined 14 goals had been scored in their previous four encounters. Stunning strikes from Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Paul Scholes lit the fuse on a gripping afternoon in Manchester, before the hosts steamed into a 3-1 lead. But Chelsea weren’t to be denied. A rousing comeback inspired by gangly Norwegian Tore André Flo saw the visitors eventually earn a share of the spoils in new manager Claudio Ranieri’s first match in charge. United went on to win the league by ten points, Chelsea finished a disappointing sixth, and Manchester City were relegated. But that’s another story.
4. The Mourinho era begins (2004)
Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United
As narrative changes go, few in the Premier League have been as remarkable as José Mourinho’s first spell as Chelsea manager. Having arrived at Stamford Bridge to much fanfare in the summer of 2004 – and spending nearly £95 million on new players – “The Special One” saw his new side send out an ominous message to their rivals on the opening weekend of the season, with a 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge. The Blues were pretty much unstoppable from then on, climbing to the top spot in the table in November and staying there for the remainder of the campaign.
5. The Battle of Britain (2008)
Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea (Manchester United win 6-5 on penalties)
Football is full of “what if?” moments. What if someone had just clattered Diego Maradona in 1986? What if Sergio Agüero had blasted over the bar against QPR in 2012? And what if John Terry had scored his penalty in the 2008 Champions League Final? The Chelsea captain would have secured his club Europe’s top prize had he found the net from 12 yards in Moscow, yet his calamitous slip handed United a lifeline in a topsy-turvy shootout – a lifeline they seized with both hands. Let’s not kid ourselves: the match wasn’t a classic. But because the stakes couldn’t have been higher, it remains arguably the defining moment in this rivalry.
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