Fernando Torres will lead Chelsea up front against United. Image courtesy of fifa.com/Getty Images
Chelsea comes in to this top of the table clash having lost midweek in the Champions League to Ukrainian powerhouse Shakhtar Donetsk. It has to be said that Manchester United wasn’t overly impressive in its match with Portugal’s Braga, either, conceding twice early before Javier Hernandez engineered a 3-2 win.
Frank Lampard is in doubt for the clash after limping off with a calf injury after just 15 minutes of the match in Donetsk. It’s a situation the Blues may have to get used to with the midfielder now 34, and Roberto Di Matteo needing to nurse him through a long campaign. That won’t be the end of the world, though, with a different style of football coming to Stamford Bridge, thanks to the arrivals of Eden Hazard, Juan Mata and Oscar. It should allow Di Matteo to move the team away from its strength and power based approach of seasons past.
Chelsea had a relatively easy run in the Premier League, prior to the 4-2 win over Tottenham. Starting with United, the Blues have three tough games at home, with Liverpool and Manchester City also getting set to visit west London.
The Red Devils poor start against Braga continued their trend of being slow out of the blocks this season. Six times in eight Premier League games this season, United’s opposition has scored first, whereas it’s the reverse for Chelsea, so don’t be surprised to see the Blues up early on.
Goals are one thing that’s never in short supply when these teams meet. Their past five EPL clashes have all featured more than 2.5 goals . Don’t expect any different this year as Man. U. has found the back of the net 21 times in eight games, with Chelsea just trailing having scored on 19 occasions.
Everton hosts the first Merseyside derby of the season, and if the Toffees snare the three points against Liverpool , they’ll go nine points ahead of their famous rivals. The Reds won both clashes last year, though.
Liverpool has found form recently winning two of their last three, although they did claim the three points against lowly Norwich and Reading. Everton has lost some momentum with consecutive draws, but both of those games were away from home. At Goodison Park this season they’ve taken seven points from three fixtures.
Everton has scored in the first half in all three of its home matches, and overall 75 per cent of the Toffees’ goals have come in the opening 45. Look for Everton to be the first half winner , as it has only trailed once at half-time this season.
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