United, Chelsea battle Armageddon at Stamford Bridge

United, Chelsea battle Armageddon at Stamford Bridge

United, Chelsea battle Armageddon at Stamford Bridge

Seven wins in eight league matches. You can take that to the bank and cash it. That’s the incredible statistic for a team that finished the league 25 points adrift the winner at the end of last season’s EPL campaign. Chelsea are highflying this season, a feat that highlights the transition the club has undergone, from a defensive workhorse that won Russian Tsar, Roman Abramovich, his much coveted Champions League trophy, to a side brimming with sumptuous attacking talent.

Domestically, the Blues have been very impressive. But it has to be said, Roberto Di Matteo’s side have only faced two big teams in Arsenal and a Tottenham Hotspurs side that was missing the likes of Moussa Dembele and Gareth Bale. It’s tonight that their champions’ mettle gets really tested when they meet the division’s goal scoring machine in Man United, in the season’s biggest game so far.

Seven titles in the last eight seasons, goes to show there’s nothing that can really separate the Blues and their great rivals, United. The Mancunians are currently four points behind the Londoners, and know a win will reduce that deficit and enable the race to be a tight affair. In contrast, a defeat will see the visitors go seven points adrift their hosts.

United need to win this match, but what works against Sir Fergie’s charges is the history. In the last 10 league games at Stamford Bridge, United haven’t tasted victory, having lost six times during that period. Nevertheless, you have to look at last season’s high scoring thrilling draw at the Bridge, where the Old Trafford outfit came from behind to draw 3-3, for you to see that the red behemoth can pull a fast one on Di Matteo’s men.

During the summer, both teams focused on forward play, with little thought given to the defense, bar United’s purchase of Dutchman Alex Buttner. Robin van Persie was brought in to strengthen an attack that contains Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck. On their hand, whatever Chelsea lack in a world class striker to aide Fernando Torres, they make it up with their summer purchases of attacking midfielders in the mould of Eden Hazard, Oscar, Victor Moses and Marko Marin, to complement the playmaking talent that is Juan Mata.

The Red Devils have won 10 matches out of 12 in all competitions, with only defeats coming at the hands of Everton and Spurs, and go into the match in full confidence of halting the runaway leaders at home.  The Achilles heel facing Sir Fergie’s men is the defense. United may be the top goal scoring machine in the league, but the rearguard has been in shambles.

Seven times in 9 matches, Sir Fergie’s charges have had to come from behind to win games, most notably the Braga affair that saw them fall two goals behind only to win 3-2 at Old Trafford. They may be the comeback kings, but what would happen if they were to fall behind to a big team like, for instance, their hosts?

Even while missing suspended John Terry, the Blues are still the joint best defensive team, having conceded a paltry six goals in the premiership. For United to hold on to nothing less than a defeat, they’ve got to read the same Atletico Madrid, Juventus or Shahktar Donetsk script and put the Blues to the sword.

The trident of Oscar, Mata and Hazard has been exquisite this season, but one would say so has been Rooney and Van Persie’s linkup play. In the offensive department, both teams match up, but in the defense, we’ve got to give Chelsea the nod. While the Scot gaffer is busy tinkering with his goal keepers, Petr Cech has gone on to prove time and time again that he’s the best in the league, bar Joe Hart.

We are likely to see either an open affair, given the attacking talent on the pitch, or a cagey match as the two teams try to cancel each other out. It may be too early to talk about the title race, but it’s games like these that teams put their credentials beyond doubt.

Probable Lineups

Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Luiz, Cahill, Cole; Ramirez, Mikel; Mata, Oscar, Hazard; Torres

Man United: De Gea; Rafael, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra; Valencia, Carrick, Scholes, Nani; Rooney; Van Persie

Sunday, October 28th

4:30pm                 Everton – Liverpool, Goodison Park, SS3

6pm:                      Newcastle – West Brom, St. James Park, SS5

6pm:                      Southampton – Tottenham, St. Mary’s, SS7

7pm:                      Chelsea – Man United, Stamford Bridge, SS3

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