The Manchester United Red Devils will travel to the familiar venue of Stamford Bridge to take on Chelsea, but they will walk away with an unfamiliar result: notching three points against their Premier League rivals.
It has been 10 years since the Red Devils have managed a win on the road against the Blues, according to Mark Ogden of the Telegraph. With a win, Man United can close to one point away from first place in the Premier League table, so it's hard to imagine the stakes being any higher at this point in the season.
The lopsided dominance by the Blues doesn't make this fixture so much a traditionally labeled rivalry when Chelsea is the hosting club. But a number of circumstances are in place for Man U to change that.
Chelsea is coming off of a 2-1 loss to Shakhtar Donetsk in pursuit of defending their Champions League title. The Blues didn't play very inspired football and allowed far too many scoring chances, something it cannot afford to do against the likes of Wayne Rooney and the Man U attack.
Also hurting the cause for the Blues will be the absence of captain John Terry, who is serving a four-game suspension for racist comments he made toward Anton Ferdinand. United manager Sir Alex Ferguson even admitted to the press how costly Terry's loss could be (via Tim Rich of the Guardian):
Continuity with their kind of experience must help the dressing room. Terry will be a loss for them because he has been such a dominating figure. He is their captain, he has experience and he can be a ruthless defender. His presence a lot of the time was the most important thing for them. You will always miss a player like that.
The "most important thing" at times for Chelsea will be to continuously put a dent in the Blues' defense, and continued reliance on longtime 6'5" goalkeeper Petr Cech will be commonplace again.
Cech is 30 years old, but he's proving he does have something left in the tank this season in allowing just six goals in eight games. However, with the defense breaking down in front of him so frequently, it will be difficult for Cech to continue playing at such a high level. Terry is such a huge part of the defensive effort, so to have him out is a big blow.
Man U is as good a team as any at capitalizing on a scoring opportunity. The Red Devils lead the EPL with 21 goals scored, and that's even without striker Javier Hernandez putting forth his best efforts as of yet in Premier League play.
He just notched two goals in the club's Champions League match against Braga, and he has plenty of momentum to carry into the Chelsea game.
The phenomenal play of former Arsenal star Robin van Persie (six goals in eight EPL matches) and ample chances generated by young upstart Danny Welbeck should stock the Red Devils with plenty of confidence against a shorthanded Blues defense.
Man U has gone blue in the face trying to beat Chelsea for the past decade, but the Red Devils will rewrite history on Sunday by finally snapping out of their funk in Fulham.