Manchester United’s injuries give van Persie or Falcao a huge opportunity

Manchester United are without four regulars for their trip to Chelsea, meaning Robin van Persie or Radamel Falcao could return to the starting line-up.

Six wins in a row in the Premier League has catapulted Manchester United into major contention at the top of the table. From being top four hopefuls for the majority of the season they are now fighting for second place with Arsenal.

After comprehensively beating rivals Manchester City last time out, the Red Devils now turn their attentions to table toppers Chelsea, who are the only side in Premier League history to have a positive record against United.

However, the build-up to the trip to Stamford Bridge has been overshadowed by a new injury crisis which has given manager Louis van Gaal a major headache ahead of the game.

Michael Carrick, Phil Jones, Daley Blind and Marcos Rojo are all unavailable for the crunch clash, meaning United must re-shuffle their side for the first time in weeks. The quartet have become regulars in the starting line-up this season and it is a setback which Van Gaal could really do without.

At his pre-match press conference, per Sky Sports, he said, “Daley Blind and Michael Carrick could play as a holding midfield player and I don't have another option, or I have to play Wayne Rooney again in that position. It is a puzzle.”

Rooney has played in midfield regularly earlier in the season but since moving back to his preferred striking role in recent weeks, the captain has impressed in his natural position.

Should he be forced to play at holding midfield, it means that Radamel Falcao or Robin van Persie will get a huge opportunity to play up front against the Blues.

Both have been heavily scrutinised this season for some lacklustre performances but neither has ever got a prolonged run of games in their preferred lone striker role.

Falcao has only completed 90 minutes in the Premier League three times but is the favourite to start here as Van Persie has only just returned from a lengthy injury lay-off.

The Colombian has scored just four times since moving to England and this could be his last opportunity to impress before United have to make a decision on whether to hold onto him permanently in the summer. If he can be a match-winner against the runaway leaders, it will adhere him to the United faithful and force Van Gaal into splashing out on him.

Should Van Persie recover and get the nod, he also has a huge task in winning over his critics. The Dutchman has struggled this season despite reaching double figures in goals. He has often looked static and laboured whilst lacking his usual killer instinct in front of goal.

A make-shift United side go to Stamford Bridge in good spirits after their recent form but must hope that their much scrutinised attackers come good at the right time if they are to get any sort of result in their toughest test of the campaign.

Register for MANCHESTER UNITED team updates

Register for CHELSEA team updates

Register for MANCHESTER CITY team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch