It's the start of a difficult run of fixtures for Manchester United as they welcome a side to Old Trafford in Chelsea who have only dropped two points so far this season, as they set the pace in the Premier League.
To be played on Sunday 26th October 2014 at 16:00. Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester.
Odds: Manchester United 19/10, Draw 13/5, Chelsea 17/11
Last season: 0-0
Preview & injury news
This is the period where we will all see what this Manchester United side is made of in its early stages under Louis van Gaal as they play three of last season's top four within the space of six matches. They start with the visit of league leaders Chelsea who have only dropped the two points so far this season, and that was away to Manchester City.
Van Gaal's side seemed to be finding their form at home having won each of their last three games at Old Trafford, but currently find themselves a point outside the top four after last week's 2-2 draw with West Bromwich Albion.
All seems well at Chelsea at the moment in terms of results as they swept aside Maribor with ease in the Champions League to go along with their league form - and have yet to lose a game all season, but many a side's unbeaten run has come to an end at the hands of United at Old Trafford. Jose Mourinho will be wary of the threat that his old boss's side will possess, though it is doubtful that he will settle for a similar kind of result as last season.
On the injury and suspension front, captain Wayne Rooney is serving the last game of his three-match ban for United, who welcomed back midfielder Michael Carrick into the squad last weekend. Angel Di Maria was substituted in the draw at West Brom with what looked like a groin injury but should be fine for this weekend, whilst Paddy McNair, Antonio Valencia and Jonny Evans could all be considered for selection after spells on the sidelines.
For Chelsea, they are without Cesar Azpilicueta meaning that Felipe Luis is likely to start at left-back, whilst the main concern on the injury front surrounds their forwards. Diego Costa has a problematic hamstring and was reportedly released from hospital this week following a stomach bug, whilst Loic Remy pulled his groin scoring for the club against Maribor. Andre Schurrle could return after illness whilst John Obi Mikel is likely to remain on the sidelines with an ankle problem. It is unclear as of yet whether Ramires will be available after a groin problem.
|Possession Percentage||% Accurate Passes||Total Attempts per game||% Tackles won||Error Lead To Shot||Played|
The statistics indicate that it could be a close midfield battle with both sides comfortable dictating play, but given Jose Mourinho's past record in big games, don't be surprised if he allows United to have plenty of the ball and try to make quality in possession count. Expect the visitors to be strong at the back, but not impossible to break down given the errors they have made this season at the back, but United have been more error prone. Chelsea should be strong in the middle of the park, but it wouldn't be surprising if it was decided by the odd goal, that came about through a defensive error.
5 players to watch
Angel Di Maria - He has been the driving force and permanent bright spark in the Manchester United midfield ever since he arrived at the club from Real Madrid. The way he moves with the ball and his vision could be the key for the home side to unlock Chelsea, and the visiting side will try everything they can stop him.
Didier Drogba - With injury problems to two strikers, Drogba could be leading the line for Chelsea this weekend. He has given much better United defences than the current one nightmares before, but he is not he player he was. Nevertheless, he still possesses quality to give defences a rough time, so it will be interesting to see the effect he has on the side.
Robin Van Persie - Van Persie probably hasn't found his shooting boots yet this season for United, or at least performed to the level expected or that he would have liked. But big games tend to bring out the best in big players. The Dutchman will be hoping that's the case this weekend.
Cesc Fabregas - Arguably the signing of the season so far as he has pulled the strings with ease in the heart of the Chelsea midfield, and United can't afford to give the Spaniard much time on the ball if they are to succeed. Don't be surprised if we see more magic from Cesc.
Daley Blind - This is the man that can't afford to be wasteful on the ball, and must protect the back line against a Chelsea side that can be so powerful and clever going forward. Intelligent play is required from Blind, otherwise the home side could be in trouble.
Last time they met
Chelsea 3-1 Manchester United, Premier League, January 2014
The day belonged to Samuel Eto'o as a hat-trick from him gave the home side all three points at Stamford Bridge. After a bright start from the visitors, it was Eto'o who struck, after his left-footed strike deflected into the top corner to give Chelsea the lead. He doubled his tally and the lead on the stroke of half time after he tucked home a pass from Gary Cahill. Shortly after the restart he completed his hat-trick as he poked home from close range to benefit from some poor United defending. The visitors did get a consolation, however, through Javier Hernandez who directed Phil Jones's shot on target, evading Petr Cech.