Chelsea travel to Old Trafford for Saturday’s early kick off, where the result will have a large bearing on where the league trophy ends up this season. Heading into this match, United are top of the league by a solitary point, with Chelsea second and Arsenal third.
Chelsea’s last outing was the 7-1 thrashing of Aston Villa last weekend, whilst United’s was the last gasp 2-1 defeat in Munich against Bayern in midweek. Wayne Rooney hobbled off injured and will miss the new three to four weeks with an ankle injury.
Chelsea however, are missing Ashley Cole, Carvalho, Ivanovic and Essien, meaning that the ever reliable Paulo Ferreira has found himself as first choice right back. Yuri Zhirkov, so impressive against Villa, will again be the left back.
By virtue of Chelsea’s refusal to stop scoring lately, their goal difference of 53 is two more than that of United’s. Twelve goals in the last two games suggests that Chelsea are a side on an attacking role and this run has coincided with the return to the side of Deco and the ever increasing goal scoring prowess of Florent Malouda. Didier Drogba should return to the lineup having been rested for the Villa match, to further complement the goal scoring of Frank Lampard, who scored four in that match.
Rooney’s injury means that Drogba has the chance to close the gap in the golden boot race. Rooney has 26 league goals to Drogba’s 24, however the Ivorian did miss matches due to the African Cup of Nations.
The reverse fixture was a 1-0 Chelsea win, whilst way back at the start of the season the Blues defeated United 4-1 on penalties in the Community Shield at Wembley. Last season, Scolari’s Chelsea were thrashed 3-0 at Old Trafford in January of 2009.
Ladbrokes has Manchester United as slight 6/4 favourites, though with Chelsea at 9/5 there is hardly anything between them. The draw is at 23/10, so the bookies favour a result either way.