You could understand the hype if it was the last game of the season, a title decider like 1989’s Liverpool versus Arsenal clash at Anfield, but this is a game in late November, after which there is another 24 to play, and 72 points to play for.
Anybody who believes the result will decide which team lifts the Premiership trophy in May is living in cloud cuckoo land.
Jose Mourinho’s only loss to Manchester United as manager of both Porto and Chelsea came in this fixture last season when a flukey first half Darren Fletcher header won the game for Alex Ferguson’s side. The Blues hammered United for the majority of the second half but couldn’t find the net.
Mourinho’s record against the Red Devils stands at 5 wins, 2 draws and 1 defeat.
In team news, both Didier Drogba and Michael Ballack have recovered from knocks picked up in Wednesday’s Champions League defeat to Werder Bremen, while Ricardo Carvalho has also recovered from an ankle injury that ruled him out of the trip to Germany. Frank Lampard will return after missing the midweek game through suspension; he needs one goal to become Chelsea’s highest scoring midfield player of all-time.
United have no fresh injury worries. Rio Ferdinand had been a doubt after picking up a minor foot injury in Tuesday’s Champions League defeat at Celtic, but he has been passed fit and will take his place in what could be an unchanged line-up.
The general consensus seems to be that United will win, one particularly dislikeable Guardian journalist going so far as to say, “Manchester United are going to give [Chelsea] a beating they won’t forget in a hurry.” We’ll see Mr. Glendenning.
Chelsea’s record at Old Trafford in the Premiership is good: 4 wins, 6 draws and 4 loses.