This Sunday’s pivotal Premier League clash could feature the return of Wayne Rooney for Manchester United, while Stamford Bridge may be the stage to unveil Nemanja Matic, who re-joined Chelsea this Wednesday for a fee of £21m.
Rooney has been suffering with a groin injury and was recently sent on warm weather training, hoping to be ready for this Sunday. The forward has not featured for United since their 2-1 defeat to Tottenham on New Year’s Day.
Matic could jump straight into Chelsea’s starting XI in the absence of Frank Lampard, who is still out until the end of the month with a thigh injury. Jose Mourinho may have little choice but to start with the combative midfielder, due to his insistence that he does not want to play David Luiz in the holding-role and continuing question-marks over John Obi Mikel’s contribution to the team.
Although the Serbian might make his second debut for Chelsea alongside Ramires, in Mourinho’s favoured midfield double-pivot, he may have to settle for a place on the bench, as this is often the tendency with new signings.
The Blues head into the game in a superb run of form and with a great recent record against Manchester United. They have won four on the spin in the league and have remained unbeaten against United in their last five meetings, winning three of them.
The Red Devils got back on track in last weekend’s win against Swansea, to end a run of three straight losses in all competitions. Consistency is the key for United though, as they remain five points adrift of the Champions League positions.
KICK-OFF: Sunday, 4pm
PAST THREE MEETINGS:
Manchester United 0 Chelsea 0, Premier League, August 2013
Manchester United 0 Chelsea 1 (Mata), Premier League, May 2013
Chelsea 1 (Ba) Manchester United 0, FA Cup, April 2013
United haven’t scored against Chelsea in the last three times they’ve played
Chelsea are on a four match winning streak in the Premier League
United have only won once in their last 11 visits to Stamford Bridge in the Premier League
Chelsea are unbeaten at home in the Premier League this season
United are unbeaten in their last seven away games in the Premier League
Chelsea to win: 1.80
Manchester United to win: 4.75
TV: Live on Sky Sports 1 at 4pm, Highlights on BBC1 at 10.25pm
Chelsea - January transfer targets
Chelsea - January transfer targets
1/18 Luke Shaw - Another potential long term successor to Ashley Cole, the Southampton youngster has impressed everyone and would surely command a fairly hefty fee given his side's recent success.
2/18 Sami Khedira - Currently out with a long term injury so a January signing looks unlikely but Jose Mourinho is said to be keen to link up with his former charge and the German is just the sort of player Chelsea need in midfield.
3/18 Fredy Guarin - At one point very close to signing with the club, the £15m Colombian, cooled for a while. However, with the move to Juventus, stalling - Chelsea may with the use the funds from Mata's transfer to Man Utd and make another bid.
4/18 Andrea Ranocchia - Chelsea are one of a few Premier League clubs chasing the Inter defender and you can see why, the tall centre-back is a handy player.
5/18 Claudio Marchisio - Juventus' early Champions League exit may leave them a little strapped for cash with Marchisio being mooted as a player to be sold in order to cover the shortfall. Chelsea would no doubt be interested in his midfield class should he become available.
6/18 Eliaquim Mangala - Another defender Mourinho is reportedly very keen on, the Porto centre-back would not come cheap although his club have admitted they would be willing to sell him for the right price. Manchester City have since shown an interest however.
7/18 Luis Suarez - Chelsea need a goal-scoring striker, so who better than the league's top scorer? A very unlikely move for a lot of obvious reasons.
8/18 Diego Costa - The Atletico Madrid man is another striker in red hot form and consequently he has attracted the attention of several Premier League clubs. Mourinho would no doubt enjoy swiping him from under Arsene Wenger's nose.
9/18 Xabi Alonso - Another of Mourinho's former players who would add experience and quality to Chelsea's midfield. Given his age shouldn't prove too expensive.
10/18 Radamel Falcao - Linked with Chelsea for some time, the free-scoring Colombian would cost a fortune to prize away from mega-wealthy Monaco, but the promise of Champions League football would surely be enticing.
11/18 Edinson Cavani - Another big name striker who would cost a lot to sign, this time from PSG, Cavani has again consistently been linked with a move to Stamford Bridge.
12/18 Hulk - Apparently fairly disenchanted at Zenit and another long time Chelsea target, nevertheless would seem an odd purchase given his usual berth is out wide - a position Chelsea have a ludicrous amount of depth in.
13/18 Jackson Martinez - Another Colombian reportedly on Chelsea's radar, the Porto forward has an excellent recent goal record but might represent more of a risk given he would still command a large transfer fee. With Juan Mata now in Chelsea's past, a new midfielder is needed.
14/18 Gonzalo Higuain - Seems unlikely given he only moved to Napoli in the summer, but Italian media are reporting that Chelsea are interested in the Argentine forward. Another of Mourinho's former men.
15/18 Wayne Rooney - Chelsea's main target over the summer and despite apparently being happier at Old Trafford has yet to sign a new contract. Failure to qualify for the Champions League would surely see Rooney depart. Will selling Mata to the champions make them loosen their tough stance on the England man?
16/18 Fabio Coentrao - With questions over Ashley Cole's place in the side, Chelsea are reportedly having a look at another Mourinho old boy, Real Madrid's Coentrao.
17/18 Mario Balotelli - Is a Premier League reunion with Super Mario back on the cards? That's what sections of the Italian press think. It seems unlikely given his previously very poor working relationship with Mourinho but you just never know.
18/18 Alberto Moreno - The young left back is another being touted as Ashley Cole's successor - with a buy out clause of £25m he wouldn't be cheap but then aged 21 he has a long future ahead of him.