Sun 28 Oct 2012 16:00 (Attendance: 41,644)
It's our first Sunday 4pm fixture of the season. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton look ahead at the weekend football programme's main act…
This weekend Chelsea and Manchester United meet at Stamford Bridge as the top two in the Premier League for the first time since April 2008. Manchester City may already have overtaken their rivals before kick-off, but the Blues will remain leaders whatever the outcome of Sunday's match.
That the two teams will meet again in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday will have no bearing on team selection for one of the biggest games in English league football.
So, after weeks of bluster, the heat has finally been taken out of the situation. We refer of course to the weather. (What did you think we meant?) It is likely to be a damp, chilly 8°C at kick-off. (Memo to Sir Alex - it is not only the away dressing room that will be cool enough 'to hang meat in' this time.)
With that in mind, as winter draws on, the Manchester United manager likes to remind the media that his 'traditionally slow starters' are always better in the second half of the season.
United have 18 points from eight games to date. Last season they had gathered 20 by the same stage. In 2010/11, when they last won the league, the figure was 14, and in 2009/10 - the season Carlo Ancelotti steered Chelsea to the Double - it was 19.
But there is no evidence that they perform better after Christmas. The halfway split was 45 from the first 19 games, 44 the rest last season, 41/39 in 2010/11 and in 2009/10 it was 40/45. If those figures suggests anything it is that United's best part of the season varies from year to year.
Days such as Tuesday in Donetsk are sometimes better written off than written down. Thankfully Nordsjaelland's holding of Juventus was of equal significance. The Italians have now not won in 10 European matches.
Chelsea's task remains to win both remaining home games in Group E and gain something from the trip to Turin.
The game against Shakhtar was a painful suggestion that without a soloist such as Didier Drogba calling the tune, the whole orchestra has to be on song to win the day. Oscar's third Champions League goal may become vital in the head-to-head tally with the Ukrainians come December.
Still, the weekend performance at Tottenham offered hope that with the right intensity a Chelsea that is more Swiss army knife than blunt instrument is emerging. The team is already 10 points up on like-for-like matches last season.
This game offers the opportunity to make that 12. Last season the Blues raced into a 3-0 lead five minutes into the second half, with goalkeeper David De Gea always unsettled.
However two penalties in 10 minutes awarded by Howard Webb turned the visitors' fortunes around, and Javier Hernandez snatched a late point. It felt like a defeat.
The Blues have conceded just over half the number of goals as Sunday's visitors. Sir Alex Ferguson says the reason he cannot put his finger on why Man United are shipping so many is because of the variety of ways they are let in. It was certainly unfamiliar to see them allow Michael Kightly to bundle his way straight through their centre to score for Stoke last weekend.United have allowed their opponent to score first in six of the eight matches played so far - the worst record in the top flight. Chelsea have been the most alert, Norwich alone stealing a march on the European champions, only to lose 1-4 in the end.
Never the less it is a mark of the Red Devils' determination that they have overturned four of those six early setbacks, losing the other two.
As a result Ferguson's side have salvaged 12 points from losing positions. In that respect the Blues are not far behind, having trailed during games and responded to gain nine points - last week's reaction at 1-2 down to Tottenham last weekend providing the perfect example.
Chelsea and Man United's neighbours Manchester City are the only remaining unbeaten teams in the Barclays Premier League. The Blues are on a six-match winning streak at home in domestic competitions, but United have won their last three league games on the road.
Were the league based on second halves of matches alone Man United would be leaders, just, on goal difference.
The Blues have not lost to United at Stamford Bridge in the league for more than a decade. In that 3-3 visit last season the Red Devils almost doubled their goals tally, from four to seven, in their last 11 visits in all competitions.
Barclays Premier League fixtures
Aston Villa v Norwich 12.45pm - Sky Sports
Arsenal v QPR 3pm
Reading v Fulham 3pm
Stoke v Sunderland 3pm
Wigan v West Ham 3pm
Man City v Swansea 5.30pm - ESPN
Everton v Liverpool 1.30pm - Sky Sports
Newcastle v West Brom 3pm
Southampton v Tottenham 3pm
Chelsea v Manchester United 4pm - Sky Sports
|Barclays Premier League table top eight|
Click on tabs above for more briefing.
Resuming their extensive look-ahead to the weekend's headline fixture, club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton are joined by former Chelsea player Clive Walker…
Chelsea are looking to extend the four-point lead over our title rivals from Manchester on Sunday. Former Blues winger Clive Walker discusses how it might be done.
'We had such a positive result at Spurs last week that Shakhtar was a bit of a knock-back. It showed again that because we are European champions everyone is looking to us as their biggest game of the season, so we are a target, particularly in Europe.
'Everyone wants to knock us off our pedestal - none more so than Man United this weekend. We have to play well, but even when not everything is clicking we have enough to win matches.
'That goes for individuals too. Look at Juan Mata, who has been something else this season. Because he is in great form and everyone is talking about him, opposing sides will prepare special measures for him. But we have several players you could put into that in-form category. We're playing well and top of the league.
'The problem for Man Utd in dealing with them is that their central midfield area is not the strongest it's been and they were without Darren Fletcher for a long time which was a blow for them. It is an area, with our creativity and pace, we can exploit.
'Their centre-backs are being exposed a little more than we've seen in recent years and maybe again that is a question mark over the central midfield. It's not happening that regularly but the defence is missing some players and not as solid as Sir Alex would like.
'So I don't know how much individual attention they can afford to give to Mata, or anybody else in our attacking three.
'Fernando Torres is often centre stage against United. It's difficult to criticise him when he has played well recently, with great work-rate. He's also made a great link-up between the three behind. Although he didn't look the full shilling in midweek, with Torres you have to keep playing him, even just for the psychological impact.
'Daniel Sturridge has looked lively and dynamic when he has come on in the last two matches, and Robbie Di Matteo may be looking at him in a central role.
'Playing against United, though, you'd play Torres so as not to give them a lift in the dressing room when they see the teamsheet. They would know and fear Torres's capabilities on the big occasion.
'Obviously Man Utd's main threats are Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie - and, like last year here, we have no John Terry again. I have no concerns about Gary Cahill and David Luíz as long as they stay completely focused.
'With Rooney there's some debate about the best position for him now, and he's been used in midfield recently. To be honest, you could play him at right back and he would still look good.
'You can't really plan for Rooney but you can RVP. He's quite one-footed so you look at closing his left side down. You also have to keep your body open because he's nippy and has very good movement. Isolate him as much as possible, steal his service so he's not involved. If you concentrate and succeed in that he will drift wide where he is less effective.
'I have to say I am massively looking forward to this match. And especially to a famous victory for the Blues.'
For Man United, Shinji Kagawa is out with a knee injury, as is Phil Jones. Anders Lindegaard has a hand injury and the game comes too early for Chris Smalling who is back in training after a broken metatarsal.
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WE HAVE HISTORY
The last time Chelsea and Manchester United met as the teams occupying first and second place in the Premier League was one of Michael Ballack's finest matches in a Chelsea shirt.
It was April 2008 and Frank Lampard was absent mourning the loss of his mother, Pat. Ballack responded to the added responsibility exceptionally, orchestrating much of Chelsea's play from midfield and opening the scoring just before half-time.
The goal was a typically pugnacious close-range header past Edwin van der Sar from a brilliantly-worked Didier Drogba cross. The German was booked for removing his jersey in celebration, while his teammates touchingly held up a shirt with Pat Lampard's name on it.
United were gifted an equaliser on 57 minutes when Riccy Carvalho uncharacteristically set up Wayne Rooney by mistake, and the Englishman beat Petr Cech. With a win required to draw level with the leaders, Drogba and Ballack then had an extended spat on the field over free-kick duties.
Never the less Avram Grant's team drove forward persistently. With a little over five minutes remaining Michael Essien crossed and Michael Carrick blocked it with his arm: penalty, said the linesman, correctly.
With no Lampard, Drogba stood aside to allow Ballack the honour. Van der Sar was booked for attempting to put him off, but the German sent the Dutchman the wrong way to put Chelsea 2-1 ahead.
Ashley Cole and Andriy Shevchenko both cleared shots off the line late on but the Blues held out to keep the title challenge alive, albeit briefly.
In last season's memorable 3-3 draw, John Terry, Lampard, John Mikel Obi and Ramires were not available due to injury, Cole was suspended and Drogba and Salomon Kalou were away at the African Cup of Nations.
Chelsea are looking to extend our unbeaten Premier League run against Manchester United at Stamford Bridge to 11 games since the Red Devils last won here in 2002.
Paul Scholes, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Ole Gunner Solskjaer scored the last time the Red Devils came away from SW6 with three points in April 2002. It is their only league win in their last 14 visits to Stamford Bridge.
Since that match, the Blues have won 22 points at Stamford Bridge and Man United four from 30 available.
Our last 10 league meetings at Stamford Bridge
2002/03 - Drew 2-2
2003/04 - Chelsea won 1-0
2004/05 - Chelsea won 1-0
2005/06 - Chelsea won 3-0
2006/07 - Drew 0-0
2007/08 - Chelsea won 2-1
2008/09 - Drew 1-1
2009/10 - Chelsea won 1-0
2010/11 - Chelsea won 2-1
2011/12 - Drew 3-3
Other match last season
18 September 2011 Barclays Premier League
Man Utd………..….3 Chelsea………..……1
Smalling 7 Torres 46
Chelsea v Manchester United in all competitions
Games played 163
Chelsea wins 44
Man United wins 71
Head-to-head in the League at Stamford Bridge
Games played 70
Chelsea wins 22
Man United wins 29
Biggest league win at Stamford Bridge for each team
Chelsea 5-0 Man Utd - 03/10/1999
Chelsea 0-4 Man Utd - 29/11/1947
Chelsea dropped points at Stamford Bridge: 179
Man United won at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League: 3,844
Arsenal won a trophy: 2,717
Liverpool won the league: 8,212
Visit again tomorrow for part two of the Briefing.
The Blues are hoping for a fifth straight win in the Barclays Premier League.
We boast the Premier League's tightest defence (with Arsenal), having conceded six goals in eight matches.
The Blues are 10 points better off after eight games compared to the corresponding games last season.
All six occasions this term in the Premier League we have opened the scoring we have gone on to win the game.
Chelsea's 22 points from eight matches marks our best start since 2005/06 when we secured maximum points from the same number of games.
Chelsea have won 13 of our last 15 games at Stamford Bridge. Newcastle are the only team to have won here in that time with Tottenham gaining a point in a goalless draw, both last season.
|Last six results|
|Jan 2||Wolves (a)||W 2-1|
|Jan 8||Portsmouth (FA Cup h)||W 4-0|
|Jan 14||Sunderland (h)||W 1-0|
|Jan 21||Norwich (a)||D 0-0|
|Jan 31||Swansea (a)||D 1-1|
|Oct 23||Shakhtar Donetsk (Champions League a)||L 1-2|
Premier League scorers
Torres 4, Ivanovic 3, Lampard 3 (2 pens), Mata 3, Cahill 2, Hazard 2 (1 pen), Cole 1, Sturridge 1. Total 19.
League games since
A home win: 0
A home draw: 8
A home defeat: 5
|Chelsea's next three games|
|Wed 31 Oct||Manchester United (LC) home||7.45pm|
|Sat 3 Nov||Swansea City away||3pm|
|Wed 7 Nov||Shakhtar Donetsk (CL) home||7.45pm|
MAN UTD STATS
Formed 1878 (as Newton Heath Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway FC)
19 League championships, last in 2011
11 FA Cups, last in 2004
4 League Cups, last in 2010
19 FA Charity/Community Shields (incl 4 shared), last in 2011
3 European Cups, last in 2008
1 European Cup Winners' Cup in 1991
1 UEFA Super Cup in 1991
1 Intercontinental Cup in 1999
1 FIFA Club World Cup in 2008
Man U have conceded the opening goal in six of their eight league matches. They have battled back to win four of them, losing the other two to Everton and Tottenham.
United have won their last three away league games - at Newcastle, Liverpool and Southampton after losing on the opening day at Goodison Park against Everton.
Manchester United have won 10 of their last 11 games in all competitions.
They have not played out a goalless draw for 51 Premier League matches.
United are the top scorers in the Premier League with 21 goals. They have scored 29 goals in 12 matches in all competitions with 15 different scorers.
Manchester United's last away Barclays Premier League draw was the 3-3 comeback at Stamford Bridge on 5 February.
Manager Sir Alex Ferguson
Days in charge: 9,488
|Red Devils' last 10 year league history|
|Last six results|
|Sep 26||Newcastle (League Cup h)||W 2-1|
|Sep 29||Tottenham (h)||L 2-3|
|Oct 2||CFR Cluj (Champions League a)||W 2-1|
|Oct 7||Newcastle (a)||W 3-0|
|Oct 20||Stoke (h)||W 4-2|
|Oct 23||Braga (Champions League h)||W 3-2|
Premier League scorers
Van Persie 6 (1 pen), Kagawa 2, Rooney 2, Rafael 2, Büttner 1, Cleverley 1, Evans 1, Evra 1, Hernández 1, Nani 1, Powell 1, Scholes 1, Welbeck 1. Total 21.
League games since
An away win: 0
An away draw: 11
An away defeat: 3
UNITED'S MAJOR SUMMER MOVES
Ins Robin van Persie (Arsenal, £24m), Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund, £17m), Alexander Büttner (Vitesse Arnham, £4m), Nick Powell (Crewe, £4m), Angelo Henriquez (Club Universidad de Chile, undisclosed).
Outs Dimitar Berbatov (Fulham, £4m), Ji-Sung Park (QPR, £1.5m), Michael Owen (released, now Stoke), Fabio (QPR, loan), Tomasz Kuszczak (Brighton, free), Paul Pogba (Juventus, free)
THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Mark Clattenburg's last Chelsea game was the 1-1 draw at Craven Cottage against Fulham in April. His last visit to Stamford Bridge was in December 2011 against Manchester City when he sent off City's Gael Clichy for two yellow cards.
John Terry is suspended (second of four domestic games).
Chelsea suffered our first defeat of the Barclays Premier League season after being reduced to nine men in a frantic second half at Stamford Bridge.
Having fallen two goals behind early we clawed our way back into the game and level, only for Branislav Ivanovic and Fernando Torres to be sent off within minutes of each other, allowing United to prise back control of the game and grab a dubious winner through substitute Javier Hernandez.
United were two up inside 12 minutes after an unfortunate own goal from David Luiz and a Robin van Persie strike that exposed Chelsea's early weakness down our left-hand side.
The Blues gradually came back into it though and when Juan Mata curled a free-kick into the far corner just before half-time, we looked as though we could yet force at least a point.
Seven minutes into the second half Ramires had headed us level and the momentum was with Chelsea, but it would be short-lived.
Just after the hour Ivanovic was dismissed when he brought down Ashley Young who was through on goal, and he was soon joined by Torres who was wrongly shown a second yellow, for simulation, after he had been yellow-carded at the end of the first period.
To make matters worse, United's winner 16 minutes from time, courtesy of substitute Javier Hernandez, was offside, the Mexican poking home after coming back from beyond Chelsea's defensive line.
Two changes were enforced on Roberto Di Matteo with John Terry suspended and Frank Lampard injured in midweek, so there were recalls for Gary Cahill and Eden Hazard, who both featured in last weekend's win at Tottenham.
With both the captain and vice-captain missing, it was left to Petr Cech to lead the side out against a United side that had not won at Stamford Bridge since 2002.
The visitors paired Wayne Rooney with Van Persie in attack, flanked by Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young. Rio Ferdinand started in a familiar-looking backline.
The first action of the game came courtesy of Van Persie, who 35 yards from goal was able to turn David Luiz and shoot hard but straight into the arms of Cech. That was after two minutes, and 60 seconds later the Blues were behind, with the same figures involved.
Chelsea lost possession high up the pitch and United characteristically countered, eventually Rooney pulling back into the box for Van Persie, whose right-footed effort struck the post before bouncing back into play and into the net via the backside of David Luiz, with little the defender could do.
Conceding early to United is never a good thing, as it allows them to sit deeper and pick you off on the counter-attack once possession is lost.
This is exactly what happened after 11 minutes, as Rafael was given the ball on their right and afforded the time to release Antonio Valencia. Chelsea were nowhere near tight enough, and the Ecuadorian crossed low through the legs of David Luiz into the box, where with Cahill stretching but out of position, Van Persie was unmarked to fire his side two goals to the good.
Chelsea were of course having plenty of territory and possession, but too frequently there was no killer pass inside the final third, with Torres, Oscar and Ivanovic all guilty of misplacing or overhitting balls.
David Luiz lost possession inside his own half and allowed Rafael to cross, but fortunately no more damage was done with the United man unable to pick a team-mate. Our defender almost made amends at the other end, when his powerfully-struck free-kick was goalbound until the legs of David De Gea knocked it away. It was unorthodox but effective from the United keeper, and shorty afterwards Hazard drove just wide after beating Michael Carrick on the edge of the box.
Those efforts aside it was hard to see where Chelsea were going to make a breakthrough, despite seeing less of the ball United still carried more of a threat. That would change in the final 10 minutes of the half though, with Chelsea gaining more and more momentum until haf-time.
First, a low John Mikel Obi cross bounced off Jonny Evans and out for a corner off the outside of a United post. From that set-piece, Cahill rose highest and was unlucky not to pull a goal back, Rooney blocking the ball on the line though De Gea would likely have got there anyway.
A couple of minutes later the United goalkeeper produced what could be the save of the season so far to preserve his side's two-goal advantage. Juan Mata crossed to the far post and found Torres, who did everything right with his header, but somehow the keeper was able to claw it back into play when a goal looked the only outcome.
Next time Chelsea came forward we would be rewarded for an extended spell of pressure, and it would be Mata, again, who came up with the goods.
Hazard had been tripped by Rooney 25 yards from goal, and the little number 10 was on hand to bend a terrific free-kick into the far corner, leaving De Gea with no chance.
This gave Chelsea the impetus to drive forward once more and when De Gea's miscued clearance fell to Torres, he released Mata inside the United box but this time he could only poke straight at the goalkeeper and the score remained 2-1.
With 45 minutes still to play, however, there was surely now hope that something could be taken from the contest.
Mata had an early effort blocked following a corner but Chelsea were lucky not to concede a penalty when David Luiz blocked Valencia's cross with his hand. There was no intent but the Brazilian's arm was raised.
We regrouped quickly and just over a minute later we had levelled.
Oscar's brilliant pass into the area found Mata, and when he couldn't get a shot away he clipped the ball across goal to the far post, where Oscar met it and lifted it into the packed goalmouth, allowing Ramires to run onto it and send a header into the back of the net.
Now the momentum was right behind us. Hazard worked De Gea quickly after the goal, driving low towards the near post.
Having spent the last 20 minutes on the back foot, were United strong enough now to come out and attack once more? United had never lost a Premier League game after going 2-0 in front, a run lasting 246 matches.
Just as we were wrestling back control of the encounter, so we were losing it. Ashley Young was sent clear of the Chelsea defence as United broke, and although there was no intent, the in-pursuit Ivanovic sent the winger crashing to the floor a their legs tangled.
Referee Mark Clattenburg paused to assess the situation, which included a nearby David Luiz, but opted to produce the red card and reduce Chelsea to 10 men.
The dismissal prompted reshuffles on either side. Sir Alex Ferguson sensed victory and introduced striker Javier Hernandez, Di Matteo brought in Cesar Azpilicueta to shore up the defence.
Daniel Sturridge was about to replace Torres, when the Spanish striker was given a second yellow card, this for simulation after being clearly fouled by Evans. He had also been yellow-carded in the first half for a late yet innocuous challenge.
This game had it all, and the controversy was not going to stop there.
With Ryan Bertrand on for Mata and Azpilicueta for Oscar, Chelsea were playing with only Hazard as a recognised attacking threat, and United were pouring forward. The counter-attack would now be exclusively Chelsea's.
After blowing a two-goal lead the visitors were unlikely to let a two-man advantage go to waste, and so it proved.
After Cech had saved a low Van Persie shot and clawed the loose ball away with his feet, it fell to Rafael inside the box to drive it back at goal. He miscued somewhat, though the ball fell to Hernandez to poke it home from two yards. Only Hernandez had been offside when the ball was struck, but the linesman did not notice and the goal was allowed to stand.
The last throw of the dice for Di Matteo was to bring on Sturridge, in place of the excellent but clearly tired Hazard.
For all the huff and puff that would follow, we could not gain possession for long enough to put the ball into dangerous areas, and so we are beaten at home for the first time since May, and our unbeaten run in the 2012/13 Premier League comes to an end.
But on a different day, with luck on our side, things could have been ever so different at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech (c); Ivanovic, Cahill, David Luiz, Cole; Ramires, Mikel; Mata (Bertrand 71), Oscar (Azpilicueta 66), Hazard (Sturridge 82); Torres.
Unused subs Turnbull, Romeu, Marin, Moses.
Goals Mata 43, Ramires 53
Booked Torres 45+1, Mikel 76
Sent Off Ivanovic 62, Torres 68
Manchester United (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Rafael, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra (c); Carrick, Cleverley (Hernandez 64); Valencia, Rooney (Giggs 73), Young; Van Persie.
Unused subs Lindegaard, Anderson, Scholes, Nani, Welbeck.
Goals David Luiz (og) 3, Van Persie 12, Hernandez 75
Booked Rooney 43, Valencia 90+1
Referee Mark Clattenburg