David Moyes faces a difficult test in his first competitive home game as Manchester United manager. The Scot will host Jose Mourinho's Chelsea at Old Trafford on Monday night (wee hours of 27 August in India).
Chelsea along with United and Manchester City are vying to win the Premier League this year. Having such a big fixture early on in the season is sure to establish, somewhat unreasonably, a favourite and an underdog in the title race.
The main talking point is the contest between the managers of the clubs. Mourinho was tipped to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson as United manager at the end of last season, only for the club to deem Moyes the better candidate. Mourinho heaped praises on United but Ferguson overlooked him for the position. The Portuguese manager will now want to prove a point or two in Monday's game.
The relationship between the two managers, and indeed the two clubs, has been further complicated by Wayne Rooney's transfer saga. The England international is believed to be eager to leave Old Trafford this summer and the only interested party is Chelsea. The London club has already tabled two bids for the player, both rejected. Mourinho, who is a big fan of Rooney, has assured United that his club will be making a third bid after Monday's game.
"I don't want Chelsea to do it [make a bid] before we go there and everybody in the club and board agree with me, we share that opinion," he said after Chelsea's mid-week victory against Aston Villa.
"There is time to do things, what we did before, we will do later, but I think this period before the game, from an ethical point of view, is a period when we are going to be quiet and thinking just about this game," he continued.
Only Mourinho can claim the ethical high ground when publically unsettling a player right before facing his current team.
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"Wayne has a good chance of playing. He has a good chance of starting," David Moyes revealed.
Rooney played close to half an hour in United's opening day victory against Swansea City, notching up two assists in the process.
Up front, Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck started, both looking impressive. With Van Persie guaranteed to play, a key decision for Moyes is whether to play Welbeck or Rooney, or both.
Rafael, Ashley Young, Nani and Javier Hernandez will be missing due to injuries,
Chelsea: Mourinho's only injury concern is Brazilian defender David Luiz, who is recovering from a hamstring problem. Much like with United, the choice of strikers for Chelsea is unclear. With the team usually fielding just one, Mourinho has to decide between Fernando Torres, Demba Ba and Romelu Lukaku.
With the manager also believed to be alienating last season's stand-out player Juan Mata, it will be interesting to see if the Spaniard starts. If Mourinho picks Mata in his starting 11, it is sure to end all speculation surrounding the player's future.
Possible Starting Line-ups
Manchester United: David De Gea , Patrice Evra , Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Phil Jones, Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverly, Antonio Valencia, Danny Welbeck, Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie
Chelsea: Petr Cech, Ashley Cole, John Terry, Gary Cahill, Branislav Ivanovic, Frank Lampard, Ramires, Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Oscar, Fernando Torres
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