Despite concerns over the state of the area surrounding Stamford Bridge, Chelsea’s game with Manchester United will go ahead. The Blues are 12 points behind second placed United and will look for a win to close the gap and cement their place in the top four.
Andre Villas-Boas will have to beat United without potentially his three most experienced players. Ashley Cole’s red card against Swansea in midweek means he is suspended and captain John Terry is still struggling with his knee injury. Midfielder Frank Lampard is also a doubt with a calf problem, which leaves the Chelsea boss in a predicament over his players. Young defender Ryan Bertrand could make his first Premier League appearance of the season, as well as new signing Gary Cahill to replace John Terry. The Blues were lucky to pick up a point against Swansea and will be hopeful that striker Fernando Torres finds his scoring boots against Man United. Torres has scored four times in his last seven Premier League games against the Premier League champions, but only has five goals in his Chelsea career. Villas-Boas is still without Didier Drogba, who is on African Cup of Nations duty, and has injury problems in midfield with Ramires and John Obi Mikel.
United’s midfield is starting to reshape with the return of Tom Cleverley, Nani and Ashley Young following injury. Sir Alex Ferguson’s decision to resign Paul Scholes has proved to be successful with the midfielder playing every game since his return against Manchester City on January 8th. Scholes could start again for United, but the main problem for Ferguson comes in goal. Anders Lindegaard has been ruled out for at least four weeks with an ankle ligament injury, so either David de Gea or Ben Amos will start against Chelsea. Amos kept goal in De Gea’s absence through illness against Stoke, where United ran out 2-0 winners. The Premier League champions have won their last three league encounters and will be looking to add a fourth at Stamford Bridge. With Manchester City’s win yesterday, United will be hoping for victory at Chelsea to close the gap to level points again.
The Premier League champions have not won a league game at Stamford Bridge since 2004, but have the confidence in their side to change that statistic. With Ashley Cole’s absence, the real problem for the Blues comes at left back and it will be interesting to see how Chelsea plan to combat the attacking threat of should-be starter Antonio Valencia. United are in great form, but Chelsea are eager to keep their title hopes alive and a draw seems the best option at Stamford Bridge.
See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Chelsea