Chelsea host Manchester United in Sunday’s late kick-off at Stamford Bridge.
The European champions are currently four points clear at the top of the Premier League table. United are the closest chasers in second place.
United have made a very unconvincing start to their Premier League campaign, but have been grinding out results.
Defensive problems have proved their Achilles heel so far this season as Sir Alex Ferguson’s side have struggled to keep clean sheets.
The home side have been absolutely flying in the Premier League this season. Roberto Di Matteo’s side have won seven and drew one of their first eight Premier League fixtures. The only team to have avoided defeat against the Blues was neighbours QPR at Loftus Road.
The likes of Eden Hazard and Oscar have settled into English football really well. In fact Hazard has been one of the stars of the British top flight, despite a slight drop in form in recent weeks.
Oscar’s slowly but surely finding his form in the Chelsea team. Fellow attacking midfielder Juan Mata has hit top form in recent weeks, scoring twice and assisting in the 4-2 victory at Tottenham in the Blues last league game.
Manchester United have looked very vulnerable at the back this season. The Red Devils are currently missing a host of central defenders, including influential Serbian Nemanja Vidic. Phil Jones is nearing fitness and Chris Smalling is back in training.
I’m sure United boss Sir Alex Ferguson will be happier with his defensive options once he has the likes of Jones, Smalling and Vidic available again. However, the United defence could have major difficulty dealing with the outstanding attacking players on show for Chelsea.
In contrast Chelsea have the joint best defensive record in the top flight, along with Arsenal. Their defence have looked solid in the league, but have struggled against the likes of Shakhtar Donetsk and Atletico Madrid in European competitions.
That defence should be offered a stern test in Sunday’s fixture. Manchester United have the best attack in the top flight and it’s kept them in their lofty position. The Red Devils have recently been playing with Robin Van Persie and Danny Welbeck up front with Wayne Rooney playing behind the pair.
The formation has resulted in an increase in goals and chances created by the Red Devils. United are unlikely to play all three at Stamford Bridge, with the visitors expected to play more on the counter-attack.
With Japanese playmaker Shinji Kagawa out injured for up to four weeks Rooney could still play in an attacking midfield position. Mexican striker Javier Hernandez scored a brace against Braga in the Champions League and may consider himself unlucky not to be in the starting line-up to face the Blues, but he is unlikely to start the game.
Prior to the start of the season hardly anybody was talking about Chelsea as potential Premier League challengers after the Blues finished 6th last season in the top flight. However, Chelsea are now being considered serious title challengers.
If Chelsea defeats Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on Sunday lunchtime it will put the Blues seven clear of Sir Alex Ferguson’s side. A Chelsea victory would give Roberto Di Matteo’s team a major psychological advantage in the title race and make them believe that they really can win the Premier League title.
I would never write-off Manchester United and they have a good recent record against Chelsea in all competitions. This clash will certainly be a test of Chelsea’s title credentials. A win and they have to be considered the real deal.
Whatever happens in this clash we are bound to have lots of action and controversy. This is the sort of match that makes the Premier League special and I just can’t wait for the action to kick-off.
What will be the outcome of Chelsea vs. Manchester United?