Hoddle backs Blues for success
Former Chelsea manager Glenn Hoddle believes the Blues should beat Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday providing Carlo Ancelotti gets the shape of his team correct.
Hoddle, who started the Blues Revolution at Stamford Bridge when he signed Ruud Gullit and Mark Hughes, believes that Didier Drogba must lead the attack in a 4-3-3 formation if they are to secure the three points they require to overtake United at the top of the table.
The former England boss also believes there can be a place for Fernando Torres, but he must be out on the flank, rather than paring up with Drogba in the centre in an orthodox 4-4-2.
Hoddle says: "Chelsea will go to Old Trafford brimming full of self belief that they can win and go on to retain the title from under Manchester United's noses, and I share their confidence - providing manager Carlo Ancelotti gets the shape of his team right.
"Ancelotti hasn't got it right recently, and at Tottenham he got it very badly wrong. This time there is no more room for error, so the big decision rests with the shape of the Chelsea team, in my opinion. Rhe outcome of this wonderfully balanced game depends on how well Chelsea shape up.
"Manchester United had the upper hand over Chelsea in the Champions League, but when Didier Drogba came on the shape of the Chelsea team was right. For that reason, I have no doubt that Drogba has got to lead the line in the shape of the team that has served Chelsea so well in the past and gained them so many good results at Old Trafford.
"That shape is Drogba spearheading the attack with two players wide of him in a 4-3-3 formation. You might assume, by that, I would leave out the £50 million signing Fernando Torres. Not at all.
"It is a perfectly viable option to play Torres wide with Florent Malouda the other wide player. It clearly doesn't work with Torres and Drogba in a 4-4-2, but I see no reason why the manager cannot accommodate Torres within the system that allows Drogba to spearhead the attack.
"Torres has played wide for Spain and come in off his perch on the flank to good goal-scoring effect. I actually think that this might be Torres' best position, particularly for this game, with Ashley Cole supporting him on the left. It could be an awesome combination down that flank, and a big threat to United
"I have always said that once he scores his first goal it will release the tension and he will start to score freely again. I am convinced of that, and always have been even through his darkest moments, because he is such a good player.
"Drogba has played that [wide] role on occasion when Nicolas Anelka has been tried through the middle, but it is not his natural game, and it would be a mistake to try him there. If Chelsea can win it, then Drogba has to be the main man, and maybe Torres played wide.
"With the three tucked into the middle of midfield it enables one of them to also pick up Wayne Rooney when he drops deep, and providing Rooney is fit and plays he will be the key to any chance United have of success.
"Rooney is their talisman, and back to his best, while Javier Hernandez is the find of the season - I really do rate him highly
"Another area for United to ponder is how they can contain Drogba if, as I expect, he plays down the middle. Sir Alex will need both Vidic and Ferdinand fit and on top of their game. They won't stand a chance if Smalling, irrespective of how good a young prospect he might be, or Evans, played at centre half. They will find it really tough against a fully fired-up Drogba going for it.
"I am anticipating that it will be an open game because United cannot play tight, and that might be much more of a problem for them against Barcelona in the Champions League final! But in this game, virtually a title decider, they don't actually have to be gung-ho, but generally they will play their normal game. A draw clearly suits them, but it's not in their nature to go for a draw, certainly not with 70,000 of their fans roaring them on."
Hoddle also believes United may not be deserving winners as, in his view, they haven't been up to their usual standards this season.
"I have to say that I don't think Manchester United deserve to win the title," he said. "Then again, who does?
"Chelsea stormed ahead, then hit the buffers, and have come back strong. United haven't been consistent, and won only a handful of games away from home. Rooney has come good now, Hernandez has been a revelation, but still they haven't really excelled, although they have come close a number of times.
"It is incredible to think they have still to rely on Ryan Giggs and even Paul Scholes. Sir Alex will be buying in the summer, but there is never a panic situation at Old Trafford, where their manager knows how to build a team's foundations and building blocks on top to strengthen, and I am sure he will strengthen this summer.
"Sir Alex won't be worrying about the future, even the short-term future. He has his mind firmly fixed on one thing - beating Chelsea - but over the years Chelsea have managed good results at Old Trafford and I really do fancy Chelsea to go there and get the result, if they get their shape right."
Glenn Hoddle is Technical Director for Football 40. Football 40 launches its first ever 11-a-side legends competition at Craven Cottage on Sunday May 29th kick off 3pm, Arsenal v Spurs, Chelsea v Fulham, the winners in the final. Tickets available: www.football40.com