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Manchester United Fixtures

United Welcome Title Rivals Chelsea To Old Trafford

As dangerous as archrivals City have looked in the early part of the Premier League season, it could be easy to dismiss Chelsea as the main challenger to the Manchester United throne. United and Chelsea have combined to win the last seven Premier League titles, with the two sides claiming the top two spots in the final league table four times in that span.

That was the case again last season, as United held off Chelsea’s furious late surge to win a record-breaking 19th title by nine points. And though another new face has come through Chelsea’s managerial revolving door, there’s a fine chance that United and Chelsea will be going head-to-head down the stretch once again.

That’s why today’s showdown between the two at Old Trafford is so important and why is such a highly-anticipated match. Will it live up to the hype, and will United get the three points?


Last season, United and Chelsea couldn’t seem to get enough of one another. All in all, they met five times, the last four coming in the last few months in the season, thanks to the luck of the Champions League draw and a (perhaps questionable) weather-related postponement.

Chelsea won 2-1 at Stamford Bridge in March at Stamford Bridge in a Premier League match that was originally scheduled for December, but that proved to be their only win of the season against United, who won four of the five meetings and were one half and a few controversial decisions in that March match away from making it five in five.

United’s dominance had a direct hand in keeping Chelsea trophyless last season and thereby ending Carlo Ancelotti’s tenure. United notched a 3-1 win in the Community Shield, knocked them out in the Champions League at the quarterfinal stage (1-0 United win at Stamford Bridge, 2-1 United win at Old Trafford), and brought their late title push to an end with a 2-1 win (a win that was much more comprehensive than the scoreline) at OT in May.



Out goes Ancelotti, in comes the next big thing, hotshot young manager Andre Villas-Boas. At 33, he’s less than half of Fergie’s age, and he’s not much older than some of several of his key players.

But as the managerial revolving door turns, the beat just goes on. Villas-Boas is still very much in the process of making his imprint, so there have been some struggles. But since a season-opening goalless draw at Stoke City, Chelsea have won three in a row in the Premier League, and they also got off to a winning start in the Champions League with a 2-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen.

The likes of John Terry, Frank Lampard, and Ashley Cole are still integral parts of the side, but the man to watch today is Roman Abramovich’s newest expensive toy, former Valencia star Juan Mata. Mata has had an instant impact since arriving late in the summer transfer window, scoring against Norwich City and Bayer Leverkusen.

Another man to watch is Fernando Torres, whose scoring boots seem to have been lost in his journey from Liverpool to London, as indicated by his record of one goal in 23 appearances since his 50m January move to Chelsea. But Torres recorded assists on both goals in Tuesday’s win over Leverkusen, so he could well be about to turn the corner.

Manchester United

Unfortunately for Fernando, his best friend Nemanja Vidic won’t be around today, as he’s still recovering from a calf injury, which may be fortunate for United, considering what tends to happen when Torres and Vidic are on the same pitch.

So, the pairing in the center of defense will likely be Rio Ferdinand and Phil Jones, with Patrice Evra occupying his usual place on the left and Chris Smalling likely starting at right back after manning the middle in Wednesday’s draw at Benfica.

Much of the focus, quite naturally, will be on David de Gea, whose place as United’s #1 keeper for the present is still being questioned, especially considering that there’s a capable keeper waiting in the wings in Anders Lindegaard, who produced a fine performance at Benfica. But an excellent showing against Chelsea will do a lot to silence critics, and the better De Gea does, the easier Fergie’s life is, considering how exasperated he appears to be with having to field questions about his young keeper.

With Ashley Young being completely rested and Nani playing only the final 20-odd minutes against Benfica, it would be safe to assume that the dynamic duo will be starting on the flanks, and it would seem likely that an in-form Anderson (that’s a nice thing to be able to say, isn’t it?) will occupy one of the starting places in the center of midfield after not appearing against Benfica. As for the fourth spot in United’s midfield quartet? That’ll likely be Michael Carrick, who was one of the top performers the last time these two met.

Fergie went for a positive approach in those key games against Chelsea last season, and if he’s going to utilize that same plan today, we’ll see those four in midfield and Premier League top scorer Wayne Rooney up front with Javier Hernandez. That duo combined to destroy Bolton last weekend, and they also did a lot of damage against Chelsea last season. Chicharito scoring three goals in five appearances, including a first-minute stunner in the May win, while Rooney scored in both games at Stamford Bridge.


We’ve seen many a recent United-Chelsea match go down to the final minutes, and there’s a good chance this could as well, but it’s hard to see anything other than a United win.

We haven’t seen Chelsea at their best thus far this season, but they’re no doubt raring and ready to go today, and they’ll be confident about their chances. They have the talent to really put a lot of pressure on United’s back line and severely test De Gea, so the onus is on the men at the back to hold firm.

But even if Chelsea can nick one, there’s still the matter of trying to contain the Premier League’s most prolific attack, and that task could be beyond them. If United employ the same positive approach against Chelsea as they did last season – and it’s a reasonable expectation that they will, given what we’ve seen thus far this season in the Premier League and the fact that Young, Nani, Anderson, and Chicharito were all either rested or limited against Benfica – Chelsea will have their hands full from the get-go, and even with David Luiz back, United have to fancy their chances to find and exploits some holes in Chelsea’s back line.

The end result? It might not be the same beatdown that we saw against Arsenal and Bolton, but United will come away with three big points that maintain a perfect Premier League start and strike an early blow in the title race.

Score Prediction: Manchester United 3-1 Chelsea