Pre-match analysis ahead of the trip to Chelsea
After eleven league games it looks as if Chelsea and Manchester United will be the two sides battling for the title through the course of the season. Liverpool look to be all but out of it already, questions still remain as to whether Arsenal can maintain their form throughout the campaign and Man City have lost ground following a run of draws. United face the tricky test of a trip to Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon, and there are some serious injury doubts ahead of the trip to London.
I think it is fair to say we haven’t seen the best of Rio Ferdinand this so far this season. He has always had the odd moment of madness during his career but this campaign mistakes have crept in on a regular basis. However, Wes Brown defended Rio earlier this week and explained the centre-half has been suffering from a back injury which has affected his form.
“Rio has been injured for a very long time and he’s been getting a lot of pain in his back for a long time,” explained Brown. “I’m not sure how many months it’s been going on, but he’s come to the stage where he’s sorting it out now.
“When he comes back, I’m sure he’ll be a lot stronger. If you are not fully fit and you try to play, it’s very hard, especially with how fast the Premier League is now.”
Ferdinand looks certain to miss the clash with Chelsea on Sunday, with Johnny Evans expected to deputise in his place. There is somewhat of a defensive crisis at Old Trafford at the moment, star man Nemanja Vidic is also a major doubt ahead of the trip to the league leaders as he has a calf strain. Dimitar Berbatov, Ryan Giggs and Park Ji-Sung are all suffering with knee problems and face a battle to be fit in time for the trip to Chelsea.
One man who will play, despite injury, is midfielder Darren Fletcher. Fletcher has revealed he is playing with an ankle injury that will require surgery but he has been having injections and intends to try and stay fit and have the operation at the end of the campaign – great spirit that must be applauded.
Unfortunately Chelsea are blessed with a virtually fully-fit squad with just Jose Bosingwa, Jon-Obi Mikel and fringe player Youri Zhirkov ruled out. On a positive note Spanish strugglers Atletico Madrid held them to a draw, and very nearly beat them, in midweek. However, prior to that result the Blues had been in terrific form banging in plenty of goals and generally looking lethal – albeit against sides such as Blackburn and Bolton.
With United suffering some major injury problems I’m sure Sir Alex would take a point on Sunday, even if he won’t admit it. Chelsea have looked excellent this season, though in fairness they have been beaten by Wigan and Aston Villa so they’re by no means invincible. Even with a depleted side United represent the biggest test Chelsea’s latest manager Carlo Ancelotti has come up against and he may well be happy with a draw at the end of the match. This really is too close to call, even with Chelsea’s home advantage, but I’m confident it United perform to the level we all know they’re capable of they can beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Written by Gareth Freeman, a sports writer for Betfair.