Manchester United vs. Chelsea: Matchups That Will Decide Premier League Showdown
Manchester United have already clinched the Premier League title in runaway fashion, but that doesn't make their matchup against Chelsea any less exciting. These two bitter rivals always produce one of the most exciting matches of the season.
The two sides will face off at Old Trafford, where United faithful will be loud in support of another brilliant showing to put more exclamation points on what has been a dominating 2012-13 season. But it won't be easy against a hungry Chelsea side who have played well recently under Rafael Benitez.
To add fuel to the fire, Chelsea are responsible for knocking the Red Devils out of two cup competitions this year, which Sir Alex Ferguson's club will likely be using as bulletin board material heading into the showdown.
But before we talk about who's going to come out victorious, it's a must to break down positional battles that will weigh heavily on the outcome of this match.
Let's take a look at the single matchups that will have a huge impact on Sunday's Premier League match.
Robin Van Persie vs. David Luiz
To the surprise of very few, world class striker Robin van Persie has been unstoppable ever since making the inner-league switch from Arsenal and is a main force in United's title clinching this year.
After plateauing as of late, van Persie has picked it up in recent weeks with six goals in four games. Among those was a hat-trick in an EPL title-securing match just last week in a 3-0 victory over Aston Villa.
One of Chelsea's defensive leaders all season has been David Luiz, who will be tasked with the brunt of the responsibility in shutting down United's exciting and dangerous attack. Even if Luiz is on his recent form Sunday, he could still be surpassed if van Persie gets hot and finds the right seam in the box.
Rafael vs. Eden Hazard
The jury is still out on the transfer of Eden Hazard, with nobody knowing what to think of him after an inconsistent season. But other than Juan Mata, Hazard possesses the best ability to generate offense.
On the other hand, Rafael will be waiting for him at his usual full-back position, ready to disrupt anything he tries to craft. Hazard typically excels with his creativity in the game, which is right where Rafael must attack, not waiting on him to make the initial moves to his play before going after the ball.
Just as well, Rafael will be pushing up the field in United's attack, and Hazard will have to be cognizant of both sides of the pitch so that the opposition doesn't get an odd-man break.
This matchup is a two-sided affair that will have a bigger impact than most people realize.
Demba Ba vs. Rio Ferdinand
After using Fernando Torres in their Europa League win earlier this week, Chelsea likely will rest the Spaniard, which gives up the chance of this being a reunion from an ugly confrontation (h/t Daily Mail). But regardless, this matchup will play a huge role in who comes out victorious.
Ever since joining the London side from Newcastle, Demba Ba has been a force to be reckoned with offensively and seems to fit perfectly into Chelsea's formation and offense.
Though, it's not every day you go up against a defense like the one United possesses, with imposing defender Rio Ferdinand manning the front line.
Ba won't be able to use his strength to get past United's experienced defenseman and will instead need to craft something up that will allow him to get free.
If Ferdinand's great season has anything to say about it, though, Ba won't have much of an impact.
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