Manchester United vs. Chelsea: 10 Most Significant Games in the Last Decade
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Manchester United visit Stamford Bridge on Sunday to take on Chelsea in the most widely-anticipated match of the 2012-13 English Premier League season so far. This clash brings together the two most successful English clubs of the last decade.
Since 2003, Manchester United have won four Premier League titles, one UEFA Champions League, one FA Cup and three League Cups. Additionally, they reached another two Champions League finals.
In the same time period, Chelsea have racked up three Premier League trophies, one UEFA Champions League, four FA Cups and two League Cups. They also reached another Champions League final in 2008, which they lost to United.
The head-to-head record between the teams in the post-Roman Abramovich era reads as follows: Played 27: Manchester United wins 9, draws 7; Chelsea wins 11.
Even without the context of the clubs' success in the recent past, this game is a face-off between the top two teams in the Premier League table currently.
Chelsea have made their best-ever start to a Premier League season and are currently four points clear at the top. United, on the other hand, have racked up wins to stay in second place, despite a creaky defence and issues with the midfield.
As a build-up to this all-important clash at Stamford Bridge, here is a look at 10 of the most significant matches between the two clubs in the last decade.
August 15, 2004: Chelsea Win 1-0
Eidur Gudjohnsen scores the winning goal against Manchester United
Fresh off his victory in the Champions League final with Porto, Mourinho was quick to anoint himself as the "Special One." However, the Portuguese coach was handed a stern test to begin with, as Chelsea began their league campaign with a visit from Manchester United.
The circumstances of that match would appear familiar to United fans, as captain Roy Keane was pressed into the role of an emergency centre-back due to a defensive injury crisis.
A largely disappointing match was decided by Eidur Gudjohnsen's goal in the 14th minute, allowing Chelsea to open up a three-point advantage over their rivals straight away.
It was an advantage Manchester United wouldn't be able to rein in for the next two years.
May 10, 2005: Manchester United Lose 1-3
Champions Chelsea thrash Manchester United 3-1 at Old Trafford
Chelsea visited Old Trafford in May 2005 on a wave of euphoria after they clinched their first Premier League title in 50 years.
The game itself was an entertaining affair, with Ruud van Nistelrooy putting Manchester United ahead seven minutes in.
However, goals from Tiago, Eidur Gudjohnsen and Joe Cole meant that Chelsea ran out as comfortable winners.
For all the goings-on in the match itself, United fans will always remember this game for the pre-match humiliation for their team, who gave the visitors a guard of honor reserved only for champions.
April 29, 2006: Chelsea Win 3-0
Chelsea defeat Man Utd 3-0 at home to clinch a second successive EPL title
United were in second place behind Chelsea, who only needed a point to seal their second consecutive Premier League title.
The United team of Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo had been showing signs of being on the cusp of greatness. This allowed supporters to believe they could postpone celebrations at Stamford Bridge for a few days longer.
However, three goals from William Gallas, Joe Cole and Ricardo Carvalho meant Chelsea ran out 3-0 as the winners and won their second consecutive Premier League title.
Manchester United players and fans, meanwhile, were left to look on ruefully at the celebrations of their rivals.
May 19, 2007: Chelsea Win 1-0 (after Extra Time)
Didier Drogba scores the winning goal in extra time in a dire FA Cup final
The final was the first match to be played in the new Wembley stadium. However, the football failed to match the expectations, as spectators were treated to a slow, labored game lacking any tempo or urgency.
For Chelsea, the win meant they became the first team to win a trophy at the new Wembley. Incidentally, they were also the last team to win the FA Cup at old Wembley.
May 21, 2008: Manchester United Draw 1-1 (and Win on Penalties)
Manchester United beat Chelsea on penalties in the epic final of the Champions League
This was a game that ebbed and flowed and threw up more drama than a person could digest.
United started better and were rewarded for their initiative when Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 42nd goal of a record-breaking season.
However, Frank Lampard's equalizer pegged United back before the break.
It was a testament to how closely matched the teams really were that the rest of the game passed without either being able to break the deadlock. Despite numerous chances for both teams, the most significant incident occurred in extra time, when Didier Drogba was sent off for slapping Nemanja Vidic.
John Terry stepped up to take Chelsea's final penalty, which would have won them the trophy. However, in unparalleled drama, he slipped on the turf and hit his penalty against the upright.
Finally, the 14th penalty kick of the shootout was saved by United's goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar.
Thus, United won their third European Cup and broke the hearts of thousands of Chelsea supporters.
April 3, 2010: Manchester United Lose 1-2
Chelsea celebrate Joe Cole's opening goal in their 2-1 victory over Manchester United
Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Chelsea visited Old Trafford for what would ultimately prove to be the title decider for the 2009-10 Premier League season.
Manchester United were looking to win their fourth consecutive Premier League title, while Chelsea were looking for their first trophy under manager Carlo Ancelotti.
Chelsea dominated the game and went ahead due to a goal from Joe Cole. Didier Drogba made it 2-0 79 minutes in.
Federico Macheda's goal in the 81st minute gave United hope of another trademark comeback, but it was too little, too late, as Chelsea ran out the deserved 2-1 winners.
April 6, 2011: Chelsea Lose 0-1
Wayne Rooney scores the winning goal at Stamford Bridge
The quarterfinals of the 2010-11 UEFA Champions League saw Manchester United draw Chelsea. The first leg of the tie was played at Stamford Bridge, where Manchester United had failed to win in the last nine years.
However, the United players did not seem fazed by the burden of history.
Sir Alex Ferguson and his managerial staff set up United in a compact formation and a solid defensive base. United went ahead in the first half, thanks to a Wayne Rooney goal and managed to stand firm in the face of Chelsea's attempts at a comeback to record a famous victory.
United would then win the second leg of the tie 2-1 to record a comprehensive 3-1 aggregate victory and advance to the semifinal.
May 8, 2011: Manchester United Win 2-1
Highlights of Manchester United's Decisive 2-1 Victory over Chelsea in May 2011
For the second consecutive season, Manchester United and Chelsea faced each other at Old Trafford with the Premier League title on the line. This time around, United were three points ahead of Chelsea with three games to go.
Even though Chelsea scored through Frank Lampard in the second half, United hung on to claim the win.
The 2-1 victory meant that United went ahead and clinched their record 19th English Premier League title.
September 18, 2011: Manchester United Win 3-1
Highlights of Manchester United's 3-1 victory over Chelsea at Old Trafford
Even though Manchester United and Chelsea have dominated the English football landscape in the last decade, affairs between the two teams always tended to be close, cagey encounters decided by the odd goal.
However, the arrival of manager Andre Villas-Boas at Chelsea changed all that.
The game at the beginning of the 2011-12 season, when Chelsea visited Old Trafford, was as open as anything seen between these two teams. Both had a host of chances, and the play was end-to-end.
United eventually ran out as the winners, 3-1. However, the game shall always be remembered for the open goal Fernando Torres missed, with the score at 3-1 and around 15 minutes to go.
February 5, 2012: Chelsea Draw 3-3
Highlights of the 3-3 draw between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge
If the 3-1 win for Manchester United at Old Trafford earlier in the 2011-12 season was a crazy game, this return fixture at Stamford Bridge was even crazier.
The game was played against a feeling of discontent with André Villas-Boas and the perceived openness of Chelsea's play.
United, on the other hand, were trying to stay on the coat-tails of leaders Manchester City.
Despite being the better team on the balance of play, United found themselves down 3-0 after 50 minutes. However, they once again launched one of their stirring trademark comebacks to score three goals (two penalties from Wayne Rooney and a header from Javier Hernández) and claim a point from a hopeless situation.
Even then, there was controversy over the awarding of the penalties to United.
The 3-3 draw also meant that Manchester United haven't beaten Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the last 10 years.
If Sunday's game can give us even half the thrills that this last game between the two English giants did, all football fans in the world will be in for a treat.