Ding! Ding! Round One.
The first heavyweight clash of the season is upon us and Chelsea look a very tasty proposition at 2/1.
There will be no decisive knock out blows in regards to the Premier League title race, but there is potential for either side to impart some early season bruising to the opposition’s ego and confidence levels, with a momentum building victory.
In the red corner: Manchester United.
In the blue corner: Chelsea.
And like all classic heavyweight bouts, the pre-fight talk has added an intriguing subtext to this edgy encounter.
Jose Mourinho is returning to a place where he has special memories and has cranked the pressure cooker up to maximum heat on his opposite number David Moyes by criticising his managerial style.
Mourinho has undermined Moyes by stating that Wayne Rooney’s desire to leave Manchester United is very much the Scotsman’s fault. Chelsea have had bids for the England striker rejected. It’s all fun and games to Mourinho and it’s great to have him back.
Rooney, who will be watching on from the United bench, may be given a first-hand view of why Chelsea’s Premier League title credentials are stronger than that of his current club. It has been no surprise to see the money come for the Blues in recent days.
United’s reliance on Robin van Persie shows no signs of stopping this campaign.
His outstanding form has set the bar so high, his teammates have struggled to mirror his achievements.
After struggling in the opening periods against Wigan and Swansea, the Dutchman popped up with the all-important opener.
Once in front, the famous United winning mentality, embedded into the club by Sir Alex Ferguson, means they are rarely pegged back.
However, tonight when they look towards their reliant Robin for inspiration he will probably be in the clutches of a Chelsea defender. It’s simple: double mark the Dutchman, and you stop United at the source.
In nine attempts van Persie has never scored a home goal against Chelsea. Not at Arsenal. Not at Man United.
Mourinho will have a plan to quell his threat once again and then will look to one of his three magical midfield musketeers to win him the game.
In the opening half against Hull City last weekend, Eden Hazard, Oscar and Kevin de Bruyne were unplayable. With that cog of the Mourinho machine in full flow, Moyes’ men look vulnerable at 13/10.
Round one to the blue corner.