Sunday 26th October – 16:00 – Old Trafford
Manchester United will be looking to prove their own title credentials when they welcome Chelsea to Old Trafford for the Super Sunday live clash. New United boss Louis van Gaal has this week confidently proclaimed that the 20-time top-flight champions are ready to mount another title challenge, despite making a far from impressive start to life under the Dutch supremo. A battling 2-2 draw at West Brom on Monday night was not enough to move Van Gaal’s men back into the top four, and United sit 10 points behind Chelsea after just eight games. The Blues have been in imperious form so far this season, and sit top of the pile – a spot they do not look like relinquishing, even at this juncture of the campaign. They won their last league game at Crystal Palace 2-1, whilst on Tuesday night they recorded their biggest ever Champions League victory – 6-0 against Maribor at Stamford Bridge. This match marks the start of a tough run of games for United, as they face rivals Manchester City next week and Arsenal soon after. Chelsea on the other hand face QPR in their next league game, sandwiched in between easy looking League Cup and Champions League games against Shrewsbury and Maribor respectively.
The Key Battle: Angel di Maria vs Filipe Luis
As shaky as United’s start to the season has been British record £59.7 million signing Angel Di Maria has been brilliant since his move from Real Madrid.
The Argentinian has assisted a goal in four of his last five league appearances for The Red Devils meaning that he has now provided 18 assists in league matches in 2014 – four more than any other player from Europe’s top leagues.
Despite picking up a knock against West Bromwich Albion on Monday, di Maria should be fit to play, and getting him ready for the game needs to be the Old Trafford medical staff’s priority.
With Cesar Azpilicueta suspended after getting sent off against Crystal Palace last weekend, it will be Filipe Luiz who will more than likely fill the gap at left-back.
He has not started a league game for the Blues since his £15.8 million move from Atletico Madrid in the summer, but has featured in all the Champions League and Capital One Cup games.
This game is a chance to prove his worth against one of the most deadly attackers in the division and perhaps nail down a starting spot for the future.
- Angel Di Maria is expected to overcome a thigh injury he picked up against West Brom on Monday in time for kick-off on Sunday.
- Ander Herrera was taken off at half-time at The Hawthorns, sparking concerns that he may also not be fit for the game through a rib injury that has kept him out previously this season.
- Wayne Rooney is still suspended but Michael Carrick could play for the first time this season after he was an unused substitute against West Brom.
- Manager Jose Mourinho says striker Diego Costa has ‘a little chance’ of playing after a virus and a hamstring problem, but Loic Remy is definately out with a groin injury meaning Didier Drogba could start.
- Midfielders John Obi Mikel (foot) and Ramires (groin) could return alongside Andre Schurrle, who has recovered from illness.
- Full-back Cesar Azpilicueta is banned for the first of three games following his dismissal at Crystal Palace last weekend.
Manchester United wins = 68 / Chelsea wins = 46 / Draws = 49
Last Meeting: Chelsea 3-1 Manchester United (19th January 2014)
A hat-trick by Samuel Eto’o ensured Chelsea maintained the pressure on the Premier League pacesetters and effectively ended Manchester United’s chances of retaining their title.The veteran striker scored twice in the first half and completed his treble just after the interval to leave Chelsea only two points behind leaders Arsenal and one adrift of Manchester City. Then-United manager David Moyes cut a dejected figure at the final whistle as he surveyed a 14-point gap to Arsenal at the top of the table – with matters made worse by the late red card for Nemanja Vidic following his needless lunge at Eden Hazard. Javier Hernandez’s 78th minute goal hardly qualified as consolation for the visitors who went on to lose to Sunderland in the League Cup semi-final that week.
Stat of the Match
Chelsea are the only team to have beaten Manchester United more often in the Premier League (15 times) than they have lost (13 times).
Where can I watch it?
Sky Sports are covering the 4pm game live from Old Trafford, with their coverage beginning at 3:30pm. Alternatively, you can watch the highlights on Sunday evening on Match of the Day 2, which is at 10:30pm on BBC One.
My Prediction: Manchester United 2-1 Chelsea
Yes, that’s right I am predicting that Chelsea’s unbeaten run will be ended by a shaky Manchester United side. Why? Chelsea didn’t look as deadly without Diego Costa last week and if he is absent again, Didier Drogba who isn’t getting any younger, will be Jose Mourinho’s first choice striking option. United have also won three consecutive league games at Old Trafford so the form is there. Eden Hazard will put the league leaders in front, but a Falcao double will secure a surprise win for Van Gaal’s men. If this comes true…