Chelsea registered their third win from four Premier League games against Sunderland on Saturday, and now find themselves in third place behind Manchester City and leaders Manchester United, who they take on this Sunday. The big question however is whether Andre Villas-Boas is ready to square up against Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford.
Unlike the rampant Red Devils, Chelsea have gotten off to a more labored start to their campaign, and have been made to earn their three points from each game. United have simply demolished absolutely any opposition in their way, and sent a message to rival clubs in doing so, and, with this in mind, it will be an uphill battle for Villas-Boas’ side to head to the champions’ own patch and come away with a win.
On the basis of recent form United clearly possess a distinct advantage. Chelsea have scored seven goals in their last four games, while the Red Devils have racked up an amazing tally of 18. And coming off another big win against Bolton Wanderers, and combined with the fact Chelsea are not at their best defensively, a high scoring game could well be on the cards.
In their last game, Chelsea put forth a dominating performance against Sunderland, but despite being relatively comfortable most of the time, there were moments in the match the travelling support held their breath in uneasy nervousness. After the game, the manager insisted the way his side played reflected the training regime. Quick passing, maintaining possession and building from defence, Villas-Boas seems more inclined towards the tactics of Jose Mourinho, who would often settle for a two-goal lead and choose to slow down the pace of the game thereafter. And despite being uncharacteristic from what fans expect to see at Stamford Bridge, the tactics have worked so far. The only time Chelsea have not picked up three points was away to Stoke City, whom Liverpool found out during the weekend are not an easy side to play against.
The biggest strength for Chelsea will be the options the manager has to choose from. The squad looks stronger than ever, but whether they can play to produce a bit of magic at the Theatre of Dreams remains to be seen. United on the other hand will be bursting with confidence entering this game. Not only are the champions in their best form in recent years, but they also have the advantage of playing at home. And after they inflicted humiliation on Arsenal, they could well look to do the same against Chelsea.
One thing for certain is the game on Sunday is sure to be fascinating. It will be Villas-Boas’ first big challenge in the Premier League, as well as for several new players at both clubs including Juan Mata, David de Gea and Romelu Lukaku. But the most interesting battle that will take place is between both managers. Will the old school tactics and approach of Sir Alex Ferguson prevail over the new ideas of young Andre Villas-Boas?
See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Man