Table leaders Manchester United will take on third-place Chelsea on Sunday in a battle for the top spot in the English Premier League. United are coming off a disappointing 1-1 draw at the hands of SL Benfica, in which they were somewhat lucky to get one point. On the other hand, Chelsea FC are coming off of 2-0 home win against Bayer Leverkusen. Despite not playing that well in the match, the Blues found a way to get the full three points in their first UEFA Champions League fixture of 2011-12.
United’s last battle with Chelsea at Old Trafford surely left a bitter taste for the Blues, who saw their hopes of a back-to-back Premier League titles essentially evaporate in a 2-1 defeat. Sir Alex Ferguson will be hoping for more of the same from his Red Devils, but new Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas is the one standing in his way.
Player to Watch for Chelsea: Juan Mata
Spanish winger Juan Mata has already shown that he has what it takes to tear apart Premier League defences. The former Valencia midfielder has scored in two out of three games for the Blues, including earlier this week in the Champions League. He is the in-form man at the moment for Villas-Boas. Can he pick apart United’s defence at Old Trafford? Surely, but he’s going to need help from the likes of Daniel Sturridge and Fernando Torres to pull it off.
Player to Watch for Manchester United: David de Gea
David de Gea is once again United’s player to watch this Sunday. The Spanish U-21 international will be hoping for back-to-back clean-sheets for the first time in his short United career. If the pressure wasn’t on De Gea before, it surely is now. After Anders Lindegaard’s fine performance at Benfica in the Champions League, De Gea needs to show Sir Alex Ferguson that he is United’s first-team keeper.
Lindegaard confirmed once again that he is after De Gea’s job:
“I have said one thousand times before – I am not here to pick my nose.
“Although I came from a small team in Norway called Aalesunds, I am here because I want to play, not because I want to sit on the bench.”
If that speech doesn’t motivate De Gea nothing will. Look for the 20-year-old Spaniard to be at his best on Sunday.
Key Match-up: Chicharito v. Chelsea Centre-Backs
If Chelsea learned anything from being knocked out of the Champions League by Manchester United, again, it was that Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez could score in a flash. The Mexican ended Chelsea’s hope of advancing past United after he latched on to a through ball from Park Ji-Sung within 30 seconds at Old Trafford. Surely that won’t happen again, but John Terry and whomever is his partner in crime must keep Chicharito from scoring if they wish to upset United on Sunday.
Prediction: In an evening matched game you can’t go against United, especially at Old Trafford. 2-1 Red Devils.