Today, Fergies Army head to the capital for a top of the table clash against Chelsea, the current European Champions and Premier League leaders. Its a massive game for both sides. A win for United would see us right on the shoulders of the leaders, a defeat would see us with a 7 point margin to the summit, a real 6 pointer.
Chelsea go into the game at the top of the pile after only dropping 2 points through the first 8 games, in that much publicised 0-0 draw with QPR in September. Some of their football has been impressive, including coming from 2-1 down last week against Tottenham to win 4-2. However, there are reasons the Sir Alex will take heart. In the Champions League, Chelsea have picked up just 4 points in the opening 3 games following this weeks 2-1 defeat in the Ukraine to Shakhtar Donetsk. United on the other hand have been faultless in Europe’s premier competition, picking up 9 out of 9 so far, however in the league, we have already lost twice.
Today’s game will bring back many mixed memories of recent trips to Stamford Bridge. We’ve had lots of dodgy decisions over the last few years down in West London, some which have eventually decided the destination of the title. Last season we saw another game of mixed emotions. After emerging for the second half trailing 1-0 after a first half own goal by Jonny Evans, we quickly found ourselves losing 3-0 after conceding 2 early second half goals. But then came United, two Wayne Rooney penalties and a Javier Hernandez header sealed a point in a dramatic 3-3 draw. And its Javier Hernandez who comes into this match after really staking his claim for a place in the starting 11 today after a wonderful performance in another United comeback this week against Portuguese side Braga.
One thing that is for sure for today’s game is the potential for goals. Both sides boast impressive attacking lineups with the likes of Torres, Mata, Hazard & Oscar up against Rooney, Van Persie, Hernandez and Welbeck. Not only are both sides impressive going forward, both sides have the potential to be leaky at the back. United’s problems have been well highlighted but Chelsea, who will be without John Terry at the back as he serves the second game of his four match ban, have been a bit leaky of late too.
Not only is John Terry out, but Frank Lampard is also doubtful as he picked up a calf injury in midweek against Donetsk. United also will be will be once again without key personnel. Our defensive worries are slowly easing, Phil Jones is on the comeback trail and Chris Smalling could be involved in the squad today. However Anders Lindegaard and Shinji Kagawa are out with hand and knee injuries respectively.
Predicted Lineupde Gea Rafael, Evans, Ferdinand, Evra Valencia, Carrick, Cleverley Hernandez, Van Persie, Rooney
Chelsea, as the home side and the league leaders go into the game as 11/8 favourites. United are at 15/8 to pick up 3 points at Stamford Bridge. As usual, Robin van Persie is seen as the most likely outlet for goal for either side with him being 6/4 to score anytime. However if you are wanting a flutter, Hernandez is available at 7/2 to score at any time, whilst Mata and Hazard are available at 11/4 in the same market. Also, with the attacking threats that both sides posses that I discussed earlier, another interesting bet is there to be 5 goals or more during the game, available again at 7/2
(Odds with Skybet correct as of 08:00)
The match report will of course be available here at Old Trafford Faithful.