Chelsea vs Manchester United preview: John Terry to play in front of home fans for first time after shock comments

A look ahead to the Premier League fixture at Stamford Bridge

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The Independent Football

It’s a big game for…

Louis van Gaal: Even victory at Anfield last month didn’t spare Van Gaal the wrath of the Old Trafford faithful when, six days later, United turned in a torpid display in defeat to Southampton.

Now, on the back of consecutive victories, this is the perfect opportunity for the Dutch manager to finally stamp his authority on his position.  Not to mention that victory would keep United right in the hunt for Champions League football.

Best stat…

9: Chelsea are seeking to extend to nine their run of Premier League games without defeat since Jose Mourinho was axed following December’s reverse at Leicester.

Remember when…

After Chris Sutton had scored a rare goal to put Chelsea 2-0 ahead, Nicky Butt was sent off for reacting to Dennis Wise’s heavy-handed challenge. 

It went from bad to worse for United.  Five months after celebrating their famous 1999 treble, Sir Alex Ferguson’s team ended up being on the end of a 5-0 thumping at Stamford Bridge.  The Old Trafford club had the last laugh, however, going on to retain their title.

Player to watch…

Chris Smalling: One of the few United players to have thrived under Van Gaal’s charge, Smalling will encounter the unique challenge presented by Diego Costa.

If the England defender can keep his cool, while perhaps causing his volatile Spanish opponent to lose his, then Smalling’s contribution could go a long way to shutting Chelsea out.  Roy Hodgson will certainly be watching with interest to see how the ex-Fulham man, one of the first names on the England manager’s team sheet, fares in what is sure to be a hostile environment on Sunday.

Past three meetings…

Manchester United 0 Chelsea 0, Premier League, December 2015

Chelsea 1(Hazard) Manchester United 0, Premier League, April 2015

Manchester United 1 (Van Persie) Chelsea 1 (Drogba), Premier League, October 2014

Form guide… 

Chelsea: WDDWWD

Manchester United: WDWLWW

Vital information…

KICK-OFF TIME:  4:00pm 

TV: Live on Sky Sports 1 from 3:30pm; Highlights on Match of the Day 2 on BBC1 10:50pm