While those acting as Chelsea's spokespersons this week - Jose Mourinho and Gary Cahill in particular - are touting their Super Sunday opponents at Stamford Bridge, Manchester United, as a threat, as a team you cannot be complacent about facing and as a club who are simply going through a blip rather than a full blow crisis, the same comments are not being said by pundits, with Paul Merson labeling last season's Premier League champions as a team who are not at the level they once were.
For former Arsenal fan favourite Merson, who enjoyed a dozen years at Highbury winning two First Division titles, an FA Cup and a European Cup Winners Cup medal, United are 'not good enough' and that the home team, Chelsea, will emerge triumphant to inflict a fourth defeat of the month onto David Moyes' team.
As quoted by Sky Sports, Merson said: 'I don't see anything but a home win here. Manchester United are not the Manchester United of old and they've got injuries; Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney are both likely to miss this game and that's massive. I know Rooney might make it, but without him I don't know how they can get a result.
'Even their fans will be going there thinking they've got little chance, which is extraordinary really. They are not good enough.'
A team possessing ageing footballers who have not been adequately replaced is one of the consensus criticisms of the current United, and Merson argues that of all the players on Moyes' roster, there are none outside their preferred striking duo who would get into Jose Mourinho's first-team.
'If Van Persie and Rooney don't play then which Man United player would get in the Chelsea team? Not one of them. Adnan Januzaj has been really good for them, but he probably wouldn't get in Chelsea's squad, let alone the team.
'Chelsea are just starting to get going and are getting back to the Mourinho way. Winning 4-3 at Sunderland or losing 3-2 at Stoke is not his way. He likes it tight at the back, he likes his teams to be hard to beat and they have started winning games 2-0 and 1-0 again.
'Chelsea look like a real danger in this title race now.'
Chelsea host United at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, January 19. Kick-off is at 16:00 local time.
image: © Tom Cuppens