During the close season Chelsea were the only side in the Big Four not lose a big-named player, instead they gained one, in the form of Yuri Zhirkov.
On the other hand, Manchester United lost two very key players Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez. Who were replaced with Wigan’s Antonio Valencia and the ageing Michael Owen, not exactly credible replacements. But Valencia’s form as of late has been pleasing; however he is certainly no Ronaldo.
The Chelsea squad are however, no strangers to ageing now that most of their key players are the wrong side of thirty, not that that stopped them from flying out of the blocks at the start of the season, racking up seven wins out of seven, before being humbled by both Wigan and Aston Villa.
First blood in this fixture has already gone to Chelsea, when they beat United 4-1 on penalties in the Community Shield back in early August. Since then, United like Chelsea, have also only lost two games, as they were beaten by both Burnley and Liverpool.
Chelsea under Carlo Ancelotti are a formidable force, and with Didier Drogba in the form of his life they are most certainly the team to beat this season. Drogba has scored 12 goals in total this season and has shown a change of attitude since his Champions League ban, and the arrival of the Italian, Ancelotti. Of those 12 goals, two were scored in mid-week as The Blues reached the knock-out stages of the Champions League once again.
A victory on Sunday and Chelsea could race into a five-point lead at the top of the Premier League; which could be important come the business end of the season.
Manchester United seem to be in a false position in the league especially when you look at their performances in certain games this season. Mostly notably, in their two defeats against Liverpool and Burnley, but they were also very lucky to win against Arsenal and Manchester City, as well as drawing with Sunderland.
In 11 games The Red Devils have conceded 11 goals, and when compared to their title winning sides of the last three years where, 24, 22 and 27 goals were conceded over 38 games, a defensive crisis cannot be denied.
Those title winning sides were built on an airtight defence, but with the notable absentees of Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Edwin Van Der Sar, it’s with no surprise they’ve only kept 4 clean sheets in 11 games, compared to Chelsea’s 6.
While Chelsea have been keeping them out at one end, they’ve also been firing them in at the other end and have been scoring goals for fun lately, having scored 19 goals in 5 games.
Today will be an uphill struggle for Manchester United who have not won at Stamford Bridge since April 2002. Although a lucky omen for United could be Patrice Evra.
If the Frenchman plays for the Red Devils they could well get something out of the game because he has never lost to The Blues in open play, only on penalties in the Community Shield.
So while, Ancelotti and Fergie prepare to face-off for the second time this season and the fifth time in their careers, Sir Alex having lost in three of the previous four meetings between the pair, I truly believe that the winner of tomorrow’s game will go on to life the title in May, and that team will be Chelsea.
Touchline Views says: – Chelsea 2-0 Manchester United