Gary Cahill v Robin Van Persie
Gary Cahill has stepped in to fill the void left by John Terry as the Chelsea skipper is suspended from the side following an FA ban. Cahill has the pace and the strength to deal with Robin Van Persie but the United front man can get an edge in terms of his trickery. Cahill’s game is questionable in terms of his discipline which is something that Dutch striker will be trying to exploit as he zones in on ten goals for United this season.
David Luiz v Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney will be getting at David Luiz from the first whistle to the last. The reason for this is that Rooney will see Luiz as a weak link in the Chelsea defence, a player who can be manipulated and a player who can be forced out of position leaving the Chelsea defence weaker. If Luiz can stay disciplined as Rooney tries to pull him out of the defence and into the midfield then United could find it very difficult to get clear cut chances to score.
Juan Mata v Michael Carrick
There is only one winner here in terms of movement and creativity and that’s Mata. He will also be confident after bagging two goals in the win against Tottenham last weekend. The role Carrick has to play is that of a disruptive, aggressive midfield player. He needs to be in the face of Mata every time the Spaniard gets the ball and every time he looks as though he’s going to tee up a chance for someone else. Carrick may get booked early but it’s very important for United that he plays this role.
Eden Hazard v Rafael
Hazard has drifted out to the left in recent Chelsea games although he’s an effective player all over the pitch for them. Rafael will be tasked with keeping him quiet every time he goes down the left channel. Rafael is quick enough and sharp enough to keep up with Hazard but Hazard will fancy his chances of getting in down this part of the pitch. If Rafael can deal with him and get forward to support the attacks then Chelsea will have a long afternoon as one side will be exposed.
Fernando Torres v Rio Ferdinand
Torres always raises his game when he plays against Manchester United because of his roots with Liverpool. Rio Ferdinand will need to use every bit of his experience and reading the game to keep Torres from having any influence. Torres will play right on the shoulder of the United defence because there are so many talented passers and creative players in the Chelsea midfield.
image: © Jason Bagley