The match of the season, so soon. Manchester United and Chelsea have won the Premier League title in eight of the last nine seasons, obviously making the encounter between them, in general, the biggest the league has to offer, and for both teams it seems that because of the new managers at the helm this one means just a little bit more than usual.
During Jose Mourinho’s first tenure with the Blues, he won one, drew one and lost one during his visits to Old Trafford. When you add up results with Inter, Real Madrid and Porto, he has a record of 3-2-2, and usually does quite well in finding the sweet spot of weaknesses against Alex Ferguson, and it seems David Moyes is a completely different story.
The headlines have been grabbed by the Rooney transfer saga, which is Mourinho’s tool of trying to get to Moyes, who he feels is inferior to him in the big-match scenery, hoping to get some sort of edge over the newly appointed Manchester United manager. Chelsea also won at Old Trafford last season, but that was after United had already clinched the title. In any case, there’s plenty of heated moments between the players, going back to the controversial win by United at Stamford Bridge last season courtesy of some awful refereeing from Mark Clattenburg.
United haven’t been as busy as Chelsea have, playing only one match so far, winning quite convincingly at Swansea with Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck doing the damage, each scoring a brace. Against Chelsea, they’re going to need their defensive midfield to be at its best, as the Hazard-Oscar-Mata (probably, considering his scoring record against United) trio is a very hard one to handle.
Wayne Rooney deserves a spot in the lineup, but it’s hard to tell what Moyes is thinking, and if he’s going to try and show Chelsea that Rooney is “ours” by starting him. However, all the plans and defensive alignments seem secondary to the scoring ability of Robin van Persie, with nine goals on his last eight league appearances.
For Chelsea, the two most important players might be Frank Lampard, who is struggling to play well in his defensive midfielder role, and the striker Mourinho chooses. Torres, Demba Ba have both gotten a chance to start. Maybe Mourinho should stop playing about and let the younger, yet better forward he has, Romelu Lukaku, be in the first XI for once and try to physically overpower the Vidic-Ferdinand duo.
Prediction – This match will be won in the midfield. Not by possession, but by making the better, bigger plays. As long as the usual Old Trafford effect doesn’t come into play, Chelsea have the stronger side, and more likely to come away with a win, although a draw seems like the most reasonable result.