On Sunday, Chelsea can show that their loss of form was just a blip and draw level with the league leaders when they take on Manchester United at Stamford Bridge. Despite the worst run of form in a decade, the Blues find themselves just three points off the leaders United, though the Red Devils have a game in hand against Blackpool.
United have taken the lead courtesy of being the only unbeaten team in the Premier League this season. Despite being unbeaten, the Red Devils have only won nine out of their 16 games played and have drawn seven, giving them 14 dropped points so far this season. Their away form has been particularly bad, having won just one game away from Old Trafford and drawing six. They’ve also scored just 11 goals on the road while conceding 10.
United’s dangerman, as always, is Wayne Rooney. However, he is not the clubs leading scorer this season, having spent a large amount of time injured and dealing with personal issues. In fact, Rooney has not scored from open play since last season, which includes his International appearances. Dimitar Berbatov is this years leading scorer for United, but out of his 11 goals, five of them have come from the match against Blackburn.
As far as injuries are concerned, at the time of writing, not much is certain. However, Paul Scholes missed last week’s game against Arsenal with a groin strain. If Scholes doesn’t play, expect the same lineup that trotted out against Arsenal on Monday night.
For Chelsea, Jose Bosingwa is out with a hamstring injury and Yuri Zhirkov is out with a calf strain. Longer term, Alex is out until the new year having undergone knee surgery and Yossi Benayoun with an Achilles tear.
On the positive, Frank Lampard is scheduled to undergo a 90 minute training match today and should he come through that okay, he should start the match against United, giving us the healthiest squad that we’ve had since August.
Carlo Ancelotti’s press conference hasn’t taken place, so the lineups haven’t been named, but it’s assumed that the lineups (depending on Lampard’s fitness) pick themselves. Despite the penalty miss against Tottenham, Didier Drogba had a major impact on the second half of the match and may be a bit peeved that he was left on the bench. He should start. If Lampard’s fit to play, Ramires will more than likely be the one heading to the bench. Nicolas Anelka’s form is a bit of a concern, given the lack of goals and presence in the box, but the inclusion of Lampard should return the Blues to their free flowing ways by giving them a bit more creativity in the midfield.
It is an important game for both teams to get a result. Chelsea cannot afford to lose the match since a loss moves the gap to six points with that ominous game in hand for United. Likewise, United can look at this match and feel that they can all but solidify their title credentials, giving them a possible nine-point gap over Chelsea and five over Arsenal.