Ryan Giggs has landed the first blow ahead of Manchester United’s showdown with Chelsea on Sunday – by claiming the Blues aren’t necessarily a better team than they were last season.
Chelsea won the Champions League in May and promptly splashed the cash in the transfer market in order to change their style of play, with the likes of Oscar, Eden Hazard, Victor Moses and Marko Marin arriving for around £70 million.
Most of Chelsea’s new signings have settled in well and have propelled the team to the top of the Premier League table, with seven wins and a draw from their first eight games.
That run includes wins over Arsenal and Tottenham on the road, prompting some to claim they are genuine title contenders.
Manchester United sit just behind Chelsea in 2nd place, but Giggs believes it is far to early to tell if Roberto di Matteo’s team are the real deal just yet ahead of the two teams meeting at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
Chelsea are a talented team," the Welshman said. "They have changed the personnel a bit with Oscar, Hazard and Mata, who play in those little pockets and are so hard to pick up.
"Only time will tell if they are better. But it doesn't really matter because you know you are up against a very good team when you pay Chelsea, and it will always be tough at Stamford Bridge."
Manchester United go into the game off the back of their third straight Champions League win – a stat that tells only half the story.
The Red Devils went 2-0 behind to Braga at Old Trafford on Tuesday but clawed their way back into the game to record a 3-2 win, while their previous two European games have both seen Sir Alex Ferguson’s team appear somewhat under par.
There are two ways of looking at it," he said. “Obviously we are pleased that we are able to come back and have shown great character in those eight games.
"But you cannot keep relying on the lads up front to score the goals. It is something we have looked at and are still looking at.
"It has happened again against Braga but against Chelsea if we go behind it will be tough to come back."