The Chelsea-Manchester United matchup is one of the Premiership's most anticipated, with both sides performing at the top of the league so far this season. United return to Old Trafford this weekend following back-to-back league wins by five goals or more. Chelsea are coming off a strong start to their Champions League campaign with a 2-0 victory over Bayer Leverkusen, making them the only EPL side to win their opening Champions League match.
The Chelsea-Man United rivalry lacks the territorial pride and prejudice of say, the North London derby or the long history of United's rivalries with North West neighbors Liverpool and Manchester City. What makes the Chelsea-Man United rivalry a must watch is that, as top-table sides, both will inevitably have a lot to prove when they face off (for more on this, read BR columnist Mike Hytner's history of the rivalry).
This time around, it's the Blues who have more on the line, with this match being the first major test for new manager Andre Villas-Boas, and potentially a crucial moment for hounded striker Fernando Torres. Torres, whose goal drought led to his removal from the first team against Sunderland, played very well against Leverkusen, but has yet to score a second goal for Chelsea. Whatever happens to him later in the season, his next few performances will likely be used as evidence.
The Blues are without Didier Drogba, out for another week following a concussion, making Anelka/Torres or Anelka/Sturridge likely striker combinations. What we're perhaps most likely to see is Torres flanked by Mata and Anelka in 4-3-3.
Manchester United are missing a few regulars, including Nemanja Vidic, still sidelined with a calf injury, midfielder Tom Cleverley (foot), Rafael (shoulder) and Danny Welbeck is doubtful (hamstring). Expect Ferdinand to come in for the United captain, flanked by Patrice Evra, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones in the back four; while veteran Michael Carrick will likely step in for Cleverley.
Come back tomorrow afternoon for live updates, scores, analysis and more.
Can't wait until tomorrow? In the meantime, check out Allan Jiang's predicted starting lineups for tomorrow's matchup.