Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Grudge Match That's Certain to Bring Fergie to the Boil Again

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Grudge Match That's Certain to Bring Fergie to the Boil Again

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Jones

YOU have to feel a twinge of sympathy for Sir Alex Ferguson. No, seriously. Hear me out on this one. No sooner does the old boy cop a five-match ban from the neo-Stalinist Think Stasi at the FA, for muttering dark things after Manchester United's last match with Chelsea, than UEFA go and hand him two more fixtures with the new-old enemy.

I don't want to wish ill-luck on any man, but it's hard to see Sir Alex negotiating the next couple of months without saying something so outrageous (read: innocuous) that he catches a life-ban from football and a spell breaking rocks in a specially constructed UEFA gulag on the outskirts of Nyon.

Anyway, that's only one aspect of a Champions League draw that today made things pretty bloody exciting for every English team still involved.

Chelsea, on the opposite side of the draw from Real Madrid and Barcelona, will have to progress to a Wembley final to have any hope of a reconciliation with Jose Mourinho. But a double-header against the team that denied them a first European Cup in Moscow in It's for the 2008 offers more than enough spice for now.

With Liverpool sitting this season's Champions League out, a Chelsea-Man United quarter-final replaces a Chelsea-Liverpool semi-final as what used to be a regular domestic hoedown in the competition. Between 2004-09, Chelsea played against Liverpool eight times in Europe. It was usually very entertaining. And since a thrash-about with a team from the north-west of England has been a constant feature of their European campaigns, it's nice to see that they'll not be denied one this year.

Chelsea-United is, then, unmistakeably the grudge match of the draw. It's personal, for the squads of both teams have changed very little since that night. Petr Cech, John Terry, Michael Essien, Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard, Florent Malouda and Didier Drogba all started in Moscow. Nicolas Anelka and Salomon Kalou both came off the bench -- the former to miss the penalty that handed the European Cup to United for a third time in their history.

Every one of them will be burning like the unholy clap to revenge themselves. …

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