So Chelsea face Manchester United for the surprising 5th time this season. The Blues hold an edge over the Champions having only lost 1 of their previous meetings this season which was a 3-2 loss at home in the League back in October. Chelsea did manage to exact immediate revenge, beating United 5-4 in extra time 3 days later in a thrilling Capital One cup tie.
Chelsea played United most recently in the FA Cup quarter-final playing out a 2-2 tie before beating United 1-0 in the replay. So Chelsea have shown they have the Champions number this season and they go into the game today in 4th, 2 points behind Arsenal but with 2 games in hand and on the same points as Spurs but with a game in hand. Chelsea are looking to qualify for the Champions League for the 10th season in a row and let’s not forget that they only made it into the tournament this season on account of having won last year’s Champions League as Tottenham finished 4th so they have their work cut out for them as they face rivals Spurs in the week in what will surely be a pivotal match in relation to the final season-ending top 4 positions.
For today’s match Benitez has shuffled his pack and rotated his squad as is customary for the Spaniard who leads the Blues against his arch-rival Sir Alex Ferguson. Rafa certainly has this season’s bragging rights based on the head-to-head record and we can expect the usual “digs” between Benitez and Ferguson as both managers try to gain the psychological edge by unsettling the other team.
JT is not selected yet again and Eden Hazard misses out due to injury so the Chelsea line up is as follows…
01 Cech, 02 Ivanovic, 03 Cole, 04 David Luiz, 28 Azpilicueta, 07 Ramires, 08 Lampard, 10 Mata, 11 Oscar, 13 Moses, 29 Ba
The Chelsea substitutes today are: 22 Turnbull, 19 Ferreira, 24 Cahill, 26 Terry, 30 Benayoun, 57 Ake, 09 Torres
Man United have surprisingly rested Rooney, De Gea and Carrick amongst others for today’s match and they line up as follows…
13 Lindegaard, 02 Rafael, 03 Evra, 04 Jones, 06 Evans, 15 Vidic, 07 Valencia, 08 Anderson, 11 Giggs, 23 Cleverley, 20 Van Persie
The United substitutes today are: 01 De Gea, 05 Ferdinand, 28 Buttner, 22 Scholes, 26 Kagawa, 10 Rooney, 14 Hernandez. The United line-up is still a strong eleven so it will not be easy by any means.
It should be another superb spectacle from the Barclays Premier League and let’s hope Benitez can deliver another key win today.