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Manchester United vs Chelsea – Old Trafford, August 26th - 8pm UK time

The Match

There are a lot of expectations as both teams that have dominated the Premier League in the past decade go head-to-head once again. The main source of buzz surrounding the match may not necessarily come from the rivalry between the clubs but the ongoing pursuit of Wayne Rooney. Chelsea have made two bids for the England strike and both were rejected by Manchester United who insisted the player is not for sale but his future still remains uncertain at Old Trafford. Rumours then also surfaced this week that the main reason Chelsea signed Brazilian attacker Willian from Anzhi is to replace Juan Mata who may be involved in a swap deal in order to purchase Wayne Rooney. However, Jose Mourinho said in his press conference that he does not want to reduce the quality but rather add more of it to the squad. So the Blues fans can rest assured for now.

In addition to the pursuit of Rooney – which Mourinho assured there will be another bid coming after this match – the managers’ dugout will also attract public attention. It is the first official match at Old Trafford in 26 years where home dugout will not be occupied by Sir Alex Ferguson but instead, his successor David Moyes. Being in charge of Manchester United for 26 years is definitely a long time and for veteran players such as Ryan Giggs, it would represent a whole different feeling altogether as he has never played under any other manager. Although the Red Devils are a compact team that did not change much of their squad with the exception addition of Wilfried Zaha, there is likely to be impact on the players as a whole without the authoritative presence of its former manager, especially in a big game like this where United are facing one of their contenders for the Premier League title.

In the away side dugout, however, will be a familiar figure leading the Blues. Mourinho returned to the club earlier this summer having left Stamford Bridge six years ago and even though some of the players he worked with back then are still at the club, the squad he inherited now is unlike the one he had in his first spell. The Portuguese manager no longer possess a squad of strong, physical and experienced players but rather a very young and talented squad that is blessed with many attacking talents of creativity and flair. This remains a challenge for the Chelsea manager to see how he turns this group fascinating players into a cohesive unit but it is one that ‘The Special One’ relishes.

Head to Head

Since the Premier League began in 1992, there have been 42 matches played at home and away between both sides. Focusing specifically on league matches at Old Trafford, Chelsea have won 6 times, drew 7 and lost 8 at United’s home ground and the most common scoreline result is 1-1 having occurred four times. On the other hand, Chelsea’s biggest win at the ground is a 3-0 win achieved back in December 2001 while their heaviest defeat is also a 3-0 scoreline suffered in April 1993 and January 2009. The Blues have scored 26 times but conceded 31 goals in the 21 league encounters at Old Trafford and there was only one occasion where neither side scored in a 0-0 draw played in April 1995.

At Stamford Bridge though, Chelsea have beaten Manchester United 8 times in the Premier League while drawing also 8 times and lost on 5 occasions. Overall in the head-to-head record between both clubs in all competitions, there have been 72 wins for United, 47 for Chelsea and the encounters ended in stalemate 49 times.

Team News

Manchester United

Even though David Moyes has only managed two competitive matches so far, it is expected that he will stick the 4-3-3 formation previously used. He fielded the following team and formation and in his last match against Swansea at the Liberty Stadium:

de Gea

Jones (Smalling) – Ferdinand – Vidic – Evra

Carrick – Cleverly


Valencia – Welbeck

van Persie

Rafael, Nani, Javier Hernandez and Ashley Young would not be available for selection as they recover from their respective injuries but Moyes still have a strong squad of players to select from:

Goalkeeper – David de Gea, Anders Lindergaard

Defenders – Chris Smalling, Rio Ferdinand, Phil Jones, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra, Fabio

Midfielders – Anderson, Michael Carrick, Ryan Giggs, Shinji Kagawa, Tom Cleverley, Wilfried Zaha, Antonio Valencia

Forwards – Danny Welbeck, Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie

Despite the game taking place at Old Trafford, many predict Moyes to setup his team to sit deep and hit Chelsea on the break and rely on their star striker Van Persie to score the goals.


Just like in previous matches, David Luiz continues to be the only absentee for Jose Mourinho. The Brazilian has not played a single minute since the pre-season tour in United States and is unlikely to feature against Manchester United. Otherwise, Chelsea boss have a fully fit squad to choose from:

Goalkeepers – Petr Cech, Mark Schwarzer

Defenders – John Terry, Gary Cahill, Branislav Ivanovic, Cesar Azpilicueta, Ryan Bertrand, Ashey Cole

Midfielders – John Obi Mikel, Michael Essien, Frank Lampard, Marco van Ginkel, Ramires, Oscar, Juan Mata, Eden Hazard, Victor Moses, Andre Schurrle, Kevin De Bruyne

Forwards – Fernando Torres, Demba Ba, Romelu Lukaku

Juan Mata has recovered from his minor injury and although he played against Aston Villa on Wednesday, the Spaniard did not look fully match fit and Mourinho said in his press conference afterwards that he should have perhaps used more fresh players as some looked tired having played 2 games in four days this early of the season which resulted in an average performance.

Taking the manager’s comments into consideration, it is likely that Lampard – who played the full 90 minutes against Hull and Aston Villa – will find himself this time on the bench. Mourinho also admitted that he will continue rotate his strikers and after featuring just a few days ago, it is unlikely that Ba will be in the starting XI which leaves the door open for Torres or Lukaku to replace Ba.

In regards to the formation, the team has predominantly been playing the 4-2-3-1 system but also, at times, line up in a 4-3-3 setup during matches and with the potential changes due to tiredness and rotation, Mourinho could begin with this starting XI:


Ivanovic – Terry – Cahill (Luiz) – Cole

Ramires – Essien (Mikel)

Mata (de Bruyne) – Oscar – Hazard

Torres (Lukaku)

Having said that, it should not be of a shock if the manager deploys a different formation from the one he used in the first two league matches to surprise Man United.

Key players

After scoring 26 Premier League goals last season which led Man United to the title, there is no doubt that Robin Van Persie is the key player for his side. The Dutchman has been in clinical form since joining the club last summer and has continued that goalscoring form this season having netted 4 goals in wins over Wigan and Swansea in the Community Shield and Premier League in recent weeks. He also scored twice against Chelsea last season when the two sides met at Stamford Bridge in the league which resulted in a 3-2 win for his side. Additionally, his team-mate, Danny Welbeck, has seem to found his knack of scoring again after netting twice against Swansea, which was one goal more than what he achieved in the whole of last season’s Premier League.

For Chelsea, the spotlight has been pretty much shared by several players since last season and it continues to be that way this season with the likes of Hazard, Oscar, Mata, Lampard and De Bruyne capable of causing damage to any opposition. However, the key player for the Blues in this encounter could be Romelu Lukaku with his hat-trick against Man United on the last day of last season for West Brom – where he was on loan at - still fresh in the memories. The young Belgian striker scored 3 goals back then and helped his side to fight back from a 3-goal deficit twice to draw 5-5 against the Red Devils at the Hawthorns in Sir Alex Ferguson’s last ever game as manager. Moreover, he scored a total of 17 league goals for the Baggies, which was more than any Chelsea player managed in the league last season and will be keen to impress if given the nod to start at Old Trafford and spoil David Moyes’s first home game in charge as United’s manager.

Match Odds

Manchester United to WIN - 11/8

Draw - 23/10

Chelsea to WIN - 2/1

(Odds obtained from SkyBet)


The match can be seen live on Sky Sports as it kicks at 8pm if you are living in UK or otherwise, it is also televised live on NBC Network in the United States and Al Jazeera if you are in the middle east. There should also be many match streams available online for viewing if you do not have access to any of the said channels. Also, if you happen to be busy or unable to catch the game live, follow TalkChelsea on Twitter as it will be providing live match commentary as the game unfolds.

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