Chelsea host Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on Sunday in what is the weekend’s stand out fixture.
Jose Mourinho’s men are in good form having won five of their last six Premier League matches and will be confident of victory against a flailing Manchester United side.
So tight is the top of the table, that Chelsea were the first of three sides to top the pile last weekend after their 2-0 win against Hull City. The victory meant the Blues were top for just 24 hours before Manchester City, and then Arsenal, replied with victories of their own. With just two points seperating Mourinho’s men in third and Arsenal in first, Chelsea will be desperate to remain in the hunt with a victory over the Red Devils.
Despite also winning five of their last six matches in the League, David Moyes’ side are short on confidence after damaging losses in the cups against Swansea City and Sunderland. The champions’ hopes of retaining the title have finished and they must now concentrate on securing a place in the top four. With a gap of five points seperating Liverpool in fourth and United in seventh, pressure is building at Old Trafford to secure Champions League football for next season.
United’s recent record versus Chelsea doesn’t make happy reading for Moyes. The Blues are unbeaten in five matches against the Red Devils, having won three, and drew 0-0 in August’s reverse fixture. Mourinho’s side also boast a fine record at Stamford Bridge against the champions having lost just once in the last 11 Premier League fixtures between the sides.
Frank Lampard missed last week’s victory against Hull but is expected to be welcomed back into the side for Sunday’s crunch match.
New signing, Nemanja Matic, is unlikely to be given a starting berth having only just re-signed for the club this week and will settle for a place on the bench.
In defence, Branislav Ivanovic’s continuing absence means Mourinho is likely to stick with the same back four that kept a clean sheet at the KC stadium last Saturday.
Mourinho’s wealth of options in attacking midfield positions has seen him rotate his pack throughout the season, but with Chelsea beginning to click into gear, he may stick with the same front line as recent weeks.
Moyes’ decision to send Wayne Rooney away for some ‘warm weather training’ appears not to have worked as the striker is again expected to miss out because of a groin injury.
The striker was publicly coveted by Chelsea in the summer amid spectulation about his happiness at Old Trafford and there were fears that the striker’s form would suffer. However, he’s silenced critics with a string of top performances this season and will be a huge miss on Sunday.
In his absence, Danny Welbeck has been entrusted with goalscoring duties and has repaid his manager’s faith with six goals in his last six apperances.
Marouane Fellaini and Ashley Young are believed to have begun training after injury problems, but the match may come too soon for the pair.
Chelsea possible XI
Manchester United possible XI
Chelsea fans, would you put new signing Matic straight into Sunday’s line-up?
United fans, how confident are you of a result without Wayne Rooney?