A Chelsea victory at home to in-form Manchester United will give them a 10-point lead at the top of the Premier League and realistically guarantee them the title.
Positioned at the summit all season, the Blues have won their last three matches, despite not performing to anywhere near the same level as they were in the first half of the season. They produced a terrible showing in their last outing at neighbours Queens Park Rangers, but a late Cesc Fabregas goal to win it was the mark of a top side.
It was their first shot on target in an encounter which saw them stifled by their struggling opponents, so they will be aware that an improvement is needed to get a result against a side playing the best football in the top-flight at present. Didier Drogba is likely to lead the line and will look to add to his goal at Old Trafford in October.
One of the game’s key battles will be between Nemanja Matic and the visitors’ Marouane Fellaini. The Belgian has been a key factor in United’s dramatic upturn in performances in recent weeks, with his strength proving too much for the likes of Tottenham, Liverpool and most recently Manchester City.
After a sluggish start, the manner in which Louis van Gaal’s side fought back in the derby was mightily impressive, overpowering their opponents from the moment the much-improved Ashley Young scored the equaliser. United will fancy their chances of becoming the first side to win at Chelsea in the league this season, and when judged on current form, they certainly have a chance.
Oscar could be recalled to the Chelsea starting XI, with Drogba set to again be the beneficiary of injuries to Diego Costa and Loic Remy.
Man Utd could have Robin van Persie back available, but Luke Shaw is unlikely to return. Jonathan Evans is still suspended, while Michael Carrick should shake off a calf problem in time to play.
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