On Sunday afternoon Chelsea lock horns with Manchester United. The two rivals have taken up the roles of polar opposites so far this season, with Chelsea steamrolling everyone in their path and Louis van Gaal's United struggling for a point against teams such as West Brom. However, in hotly contested rivalries as big as this, the form guide rarely influences the result.
Last season, Chelsea took four points from their clashes with United. A goalless stalemate at Old Trafford and a 3-1 beating of United. United's failure to claim more than a point against their rivals reflected the sharp decline in form the club experienced with David Moyes at the helm, missing out on Champions League and European football altogether, following a lowly seventh placed finish. Chelsea, on the other hand, were always there or there about in the title race, eventually finishing in a respectable third place.
Following a dismal showing last term, the arrival of Dutch manager Louis van Gaal brought a new lease of life to the Old Trafford faithful, only for that to be robbed in the aftermath of defeats at the hands of Swansea and Leicester, as well as draws against the likes of relegation scrapper such as Burnley. Despite such poor results, the arrival of one Ángel dí María has brought hope to Old Trafford due to several outstanding perfornances since his £60m move from Real Madrid. However the Argentine is a doubt following a muscle strain picked up at West From on Monday.
From the west Londoners' point of view, the season has been an astounding success thus far. Big money signings Diego Costa and Cesc Fàbregas have fired them to their perch on top of the table, as they remain the only team unbeaten with an incredible 19 points already. Chelsea have done so well that only Manchester City and Southampton are closer to them than than the relegation zone.
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Chelsea have received a major blow heading into the fixture though, with the free-scoring Diego Costa all but ruled out of the fixture due to a combination of long-term injury fears and a severe stomach bug. Loïc Rémy is also a doubt, having hobbled off injured after scoring against Maribor in midweek. This temporarily leaves Didier Drogba, 36 and Dominic Solanke, 17, as the only recognised forwards in Chelsea's side.
Ahead of Sunday's heavyweight clash, there are several big name potential absences, but the atmosphere remains the same. United's Juan Mata was the last Chelsea player to score at Old Trafford, with Chelsea having failed to do so last season, but there will be no such failure this time round, with Chelsea's leaky defence meeting United's shambles of a back line. There are no guarantees for Sunday's game except one - goals.
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