Chelsea will have few greater opportunities to put one over a long-standing rival in their back yard as they prepare to take on Manchester United at Old Trafford.
After being humbled by their city rivals on Wednesday evening, United have lost seven of the nine matches since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was appointed permanent manager.
This slip up has provided a promising platform for Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea to squeeze into the UEFA Champions League places, as they currently sit three points above United in fourth.
With European football still seriously on the line next season, one would hope this produces a thrilling classic. Chelsea will have the historic books on their mind upon entering the ‘Theatre of Dreams’, having not won there since 2013.
Before the mouth-watering wager on Sunday, we have taken a look at the last three times when Chelsea have prevailed at the home of United.
Manchester United 0-1 Chelsea – English Premier League (5 May 2013)
Things have never been straight forward as far as Chelsea are concerned. A year after leading The Blues to UEFA Champions League glory, Roberto Di Matteo was axed following his side’s exit from that same competition, in favour of interim boss, Rafa Benitez. Benitez and co voyaged to Manchester with European escapades on the cards once again. After both Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur had won 24 hours previous, the pressure was piled on Chelsea to cement their top four spot.
Whilst Chelsea entered the tie in good form, having suffered just two defeats in eight, they were coming up against a formidable Alex Ferguson side who had perched in first position for seven months. The footballing community would bow down to Ferguson as he waved goodbye to an illustrious career come the end of the campaign, not before he lifted a record 13th league title. However, Chelsea came to momentarily crash the party, by inflicting only a fifth loss in the division all year upon The Reds.
Despite Chelsea featuring in their 12th game over 37 days, it was the home side who appeared travel sick, an evident lack of urgency had been omitted from United, believing the league was done and dusted. The Blues were in control all afternoon yet were left red in the face by United’s wiry back-line. After Oscar’s strike was tipped onto the post by Anders Lindegaard, it appeared a stalemate would be served up by both teams. However, with three minutes left on the clock, Juan Mata’s effort took a deflection off Phil Jones and flew into the United net to seal a late three points for the visitors; Mata joined The Reds less than a year later.
Drama ensued, as Rafael earned a red card by crudely challenging fellow Brazilian, David Luiz. A lacklustre game in truth, until the final flourishes, yet Benítez wouldn’t have cared one jot as Chelsea moved into third place, a point ahead of Arsenal and three in front of Tottenham Hotspur, who they faced three days later.
Manchester United 1-2 Chelsea – English Premier League (3 April 2010)
With just six matches left in the domestic calendar, this was the showdown everyone had circled as the main event. United with 72 points in first, Chelsea on 71 in second. To say everything was on the line would be an understatement.
Carlo Ancelotti’s Chelsea had recently run riot against Portsmouth and Aston Villa, scoring five than seven against the unfortunate pair while United entered with five wins on the spin. Regardless of their free-scoring saucery, many were shocked to see The Blues’ leading marksmen, Didier Drogba, start on the bench at Old Trafford.
Initially, the Ivorian’s services were not required as Chelsea took the lead through Joe Cole, a clever flick from the Englishman, earning his side the upper hand in the first half. Ferguson was without his focal point, as Wayne Rooney could only watch from the sidelines and it showed as United were second best during the afternoon.
As the home team began to build up a head of steam, Ancelotti looked to his super striker for inspiration, replacing Nicolas Anelka with Drogba on 70 minutes. It was not long before he delivered his 24th league goal, albeit in contentious circumstances. The forward made no mistake of his finish; however, it was the linesman at fault as Drogba was clearly in an offside position at the time.
Federico Macheda bundled the ball over the line for United to make for a nervy finale, yet Chelsea prevailed and subsequently turned top of the pile. Ancelotti awarded the club with their third English Premier League trophy, doing so with the highest amount of home goals scored in the competition’s history (68), as well as becoming FA Cup winners to complete the domestic double.
Manchester United 1-2 Chelsea – League Cup (26 January 2005)
An era that redefined the foundations that Chelsea had been built upon. A fresh faced, egotistical manager had just made his way from Portugal, with the backing of a very rich Russian owner. Jose Mourinho certainly made his mark during his first spell in England, as Roman Abramovich continued to invest into the future of The Blues.
Unquestionably, the title triumph will be duly remembered, especially as the ‘Special One’ set a long-standing record of fewest goals conceded (15), smallest amount of away goals conceded (9) and failed to lose at Stamford Bridge. Therefore, the small notion of also winning the League Cup has reason to be overlooked.
Mourinho would have bitten your hand off however at this remark; a serial winner who wanted to win it all. His first port of call was to overcome United in their backyard in the semi-finals. After playing out a 0-0 in the opening leg, all was up for grabs on the night.
An assembly of the old-guard (Roy Keane, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs) faced off against the new names in town (Petr Cech, Arjen Robben and Drogba), as Mourinho looked to remove Ferguson of his long-standing thrown.
United were superior in possession, yet it was Chelsea who conjured up a moment of quality for the opener. Frank Lampard finished off a swift, incisive attack which involved two of the summer acquisitions of Robben and Drogba.
Giggs’ elegant chip over Cech drew the hosts level, all before Damien Duff’s in-swinging freekick deceived anyone in Blue and Red, in particular United’s keeper Tim Howard and flew straight into the back of the net. Mourinho had laid down Ferguson’s first ever domestic semi-final defeat, swiftly moving aside 3-2 Liverpool in the final.
By Nathaniel Kay