EPL Sunday Preview: United to Stuff City, Spurs' Chelsea Hoodoo To Continue
Chelsea welcome Tottenham Hotspur to Stamford Bridge this afternoon in confident mood, following five wins from five matches in the League to date this season, including a spirited win at the virtually impregnable Britannia stadium last time around.
Harry Redknapp's men have also started brightly, despite eventually succumbing to Wayne Rooney's brilliance in last weekend's 3-1 home defeat to the defending Champions.
While Tottenham's form against Chelsea has improved significantly recently—they are unbeaten in their last four meetings with their London rivals—they still have not beaten them away from home in the league since 1990.
If Chelsea secures three points today, they will set a new club record of 11 consecutive Premier League wins.
They are likely to be without Joe Cole again, as well as new boy Yuri Zhirkov, Deco, Alex, and Paolo Ferreira.
Tottenham will be looking to get back to winning ways, and continue their fine start to the season, which has seen them score 17 goals from six games, including five at both Hull City in the League and Doncaster Rovers in the League Cup. Conversely, they have yet to keep a clean sheet.
Speaking before the game, manager Redknapp has insisted that his squad's natural attacking instinct will be key to securing a result, rather than keeping Chelsea out at the other end. Despite this bullish statement, he will hoping that a much maligned Ledley King has a strong showing.
The other key battles will see Wilson Palacios, slightly jaded and below-par last weekend, sparring with Frank Lampard in midfield, and Aaron Lennon will looking to exploit the space left by Ashley Cole's offensive forays, and ensure that Cole is constantly reminded of his defensive duties.
Tottenham sorely missed Luka Modric's ability to unlock defences with intelligent movement and passing, and Chelsea should be too strong for Tottenham again.
Perhaps more exciting yet is the prospect of star-studded Manchester City's trip to nearby Old Trafford.
City, unlike their neighbours United, remain unbeaten in the league, with Emmanuel Adebayor in particular in fine form. However, with five strikers missing—including first-teamers Adebayor, Carlos Tevez, and Robinho—Mark Hughes must privately be dreading today's game.
Man Utd will not be at full strength in defence, as Rio Ferdinand is doubtful because of a groin problem, while Edwin Van Der Sar is still sidelined by injury.
Since their traumatic defeat at Burnley early on, the Champions have shown their prowess recently, with an important win in Turkey in midweek following their impressive victory over Spurs on Sunday.
Although Michael Owen has yet to hit form, Rooney has proved a real handful to every team he has faced thus far, and new signing Luis Antonio Valencia has had some promising displays on the wing.
United, unlike City, have real strength in depth in every area and must be the favourites today.
The Blues will need to show lots of resolve, as Ferguson's men will see a lot of the ball. They will also need to find a way to threaten the United goal. Ferdinand and Van Der Sar's absence will weaken the home team's aerial capabilities, and Ferguson will be wary of the aerial threat that new City skipper Kolo Toure and fellow transfer window signing Joleon Lescott pose.
The key battles will be between Rooney and Toure, Valencia and Wayne Bridge on the flank, and Ireland and Carrick in central midfield.
The Red Devils should prove far too strong for their "rivals" this afternoon, but write off Man City, who will be fired up by Ferguson's 'small club with a small mentality' preseason dig, at your peril.
They day's other games are relatively low-key.
Everton need a win to climb out of the bottom three, and should be backed to brush aside a nondescript Blackburn side at Goodison Park.
Wolves have shown glimpses of quality, but have struggled in the League so far. Roy Hodgson and Fulham should have too much know-how, and their industry will see them win three points at Molineux.
Manchester United 3-1 Manchester City
Chelsea 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur
Everton 2-0 Blackburn Rovers
Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-2 Fulham
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