It is the battle of the Chosen one, as Chelsea face Manchester United at Stamford Bridge in what is traditionally a top of the table clash, but has not panned out that way this season.
Chelsea have the Premier League’s current top scorer in their ranks in the form of enfant terrible Diego Costa, and he is sure to be one of they key men for Antonio Conte as he seeks to move higher up the table.
Eden Hazard has also had a return to form of sorts, and will look to play a part in Chelsea’s campaign to have one back at Mourinho, who left them stranded in the bottom half of the table when he was sacked for a second time in the 2015/16 season. Their attacking shape has looked very good, and although they were hammered by Arsenal 3-0, their defence is still hard to crack on its day, especially under Conte who will have taken note of the frailties in his backline that day.
United still seem to be a team finding their feet after starting off well and it has not helped matters that they were anointed the favourites by many publications as well as their own fans after a summer that saw the signings of world class talent like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba and Henrik Mkhitaryan. Mkhitaryan has struggled for game time in the squad, and Pogba has a single goal to his name as of now, while Ibrahimovic who has started the campaign in a blaze of glory has tailed off a bit in recent weeks.
The fact that they lie seventh on the table is proof of the fact that Mourinho has not got them working as well as he likes. The exclusion of Rooney from the starting lineup indicated some tough calls were on the horizon from the Portuguese, especially as this one proved inspired, with the Englishman’s exclusion leading to more space for Pogba to play freely.
This has been one of the top fixtures in the Premier League following the arrival of Chelsea’s Roman Abramovic in 2003, and it does not fail to delight either. Both sides are out of the Champions League places and will be looking to get it back this season.
An interesting fact to note is that Chelsea are unbeaten against United in their last seven encounters, but they have never gone eight matches unbeaten against the same opposition. The teams have lined up against each other on 48 occasions and Chelsea have won 16 while the Red Devils have won 13, which is a pretty even record.
With his United side having dropped precious points midweek against Chelsea, it will be interesting to see how Mourinho sets up for this one.