Andre Villas-Boas faces the first true test of his Chelsea career at Old Trafford tomorrow. Manchester United have started the season on a roll and have already scored 18 goals, with Wayne Rooney grabbing back to back hatricks against Arsenal and Bolton Wanderers.
In the recent past, with the fading annual challenge of Arsenal, the English Premiership had been between Manchester United and Chelsea, but this season, the blue half of Manchester, City, have made their intentions known from the very beginning. They boast a 100% start to the season so far and only second on the table because they have scored three goals less than their fierce local rivals. Already, pundits have been tipping either Manchester clubs to win the 2011/2012 EPL trophy, especially as they say Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspurs (the pretenders to the throne) do not have what it takes to compete these days.
The young players Ferguson has introduced into his team have shown early promises. The manager made wholesale changes for their clash against Benfica in Europe as he went for a more experienced line-up. He is expected to ring the changes against the Blues tomorrow. He confirmed after the game in Portugal that David de Gea will return between the posts despite Anders Lindegaard’s excellent performance. Hernandez, Young, Nani, Anderson and Rio Ferdinand are also in contention to come back in.
Chelsea’s season hasn’t been too fantastic so far. They managed to win a few of their domestic games and had to rely on late goals to nick a win against Bayer Leverkusen in their last European game. One encouraging sign though, is Torres’ new form; he laid on the two assists against the German club on Tuesday. Didier Drogba hasn’t recovered from the concussion he suffered in the Norwich game and so is not available for selection. Villas-Boas will decide whether to continue with Torres upfront or pick Daniel Sturridge ahead of him like he did last week against Sunderland.
Whatever the team selection, I expect Manchester United to come out top in this clash. The best Chelsea take away will be a draw and there are suggestions in the media that Villas-Boas might go for a defensive formation. One fact is sure though: At the end of 90 minutes, we might just know for sure whether the London teams will be in with a shout this season, or the trophy will remain in Manchester for one more year.
PREDICTION: Manchster United to win 2-0.