Chelsea resume their Premier League campaign with a hotly-anticipated showdown against Manchester United on Sunday afternoon. Both clubs currently sit in the top four, with Antonio Conte’s men three points behind second-placed United in the table.
Ahead of the blockbuster clash, here are the five key things to look out for at Old Trafford:
#1 Mourinho v Conte
There is no doubt that the media have added a lot of spice to the rivalry which is brewing between Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte. It all began last season when Mourinho felt that his managerial counterpart ‘embarrassed’ him during United’s 4-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge by celebrating in an excessive manner. Since then, things have escalated even further between the two with Conte admitting, during this campaign, that things have become ‘personal’ between them. The war of words will begin prior to the match and it won’t be surprising if they continue after the game too.
#2 Kante v Matic
Many were surprised in the summer when Chelsea allowed one of their key players Nemanja Matic to make a move from Stamford Bridge to Old Trafford. The Serbian international had built a strong midfield partnership with N’Golo Kante during the London club’s title-winning season. Now, the duo will come face to face at the weekend, with their midfield performance key to their team picking up the points. There will be a plethora of attacking talent on show on Sunday and both defensive-minded players will know that if they can protect their respective backlines then it will give them an even greater chance of securing all three points.
#3 Will Lukaku feel the wrath of the home supporters?
When it comes to playing against the so-called top six in the Premier League, Romelu Lukaku comes under lots of criticism for not producing the goods in the big matches. He will be tested once again at the weekend and there is no doubt that he will feel the wrath of the home supporters if he doesn’t perform. Since his move from Everton in the summer, Lukaku has bagged 12 league goals from 26 encounters but he has failed to find the back of the net against any of the top six. It will be a sweet moment for the Belgian if he can break that duck against his former side.
#4 Will Conte make any changes?
After a number of poor performances in recent months, Chelsea produced their best display of the season when they recorded a 1-1 draw against Barcelona in the Champions League on Tuesday night. During that first-leg encounter, Conte opted to leave both Alvaro Morata and Oliver Giroud on the bench, with Eden Hazard deployed as the forward. It remains to be seen if Conte will stick with that team once again or bring in Morata, who scored the winning goal against United during the reverse fixture earlier on in the campaign.
#5 Who is the best attacking player from both teams?
Both Mourinho and Conte will ensure that their sides are set up in a robust manner at the weekend where they will not allow too much freedom for the attacking players. United and Chelsea have a number of big hitters in their side from Alexis Sanchez to Eden Hazard. Many would argue that the latter is perhaps the best attacking player from both teams but that case can be answered by either one of them guiding their team to victory.