Old Trafford could be witness to an early season thriller. Picture - Reuters.

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Manchester United Vs Chelsea, Sunday 18 September, 15:00 GMT

Andre Villas-Boas' will face his toughest challenge as Chelsea manager to-date when his side travels to Old Trafford to take on the champions Manchester United on Sunday.

In essence, this is battle between the Premiership's least experienced manager and its wise old sage.

Chelsea have so far managed to make an impressive start to life under Villas-Boas, quietly ambling away lying in third place away from the spot-light dominated by the two high-flying Manchester sides.

The Blues new signing Juan Mata has had the desired effect, as has Raul Meireles who performed impressively in his debut at Sunderland last week. Chelsea cruised to a 2-1 win and showed signs of what AVB is trying to mould the side into. They backed that with a cynical 2-0 win against Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League, leaving them in good stead to take on United. AVB left out John Terry and Frank Lampard from the starting line-up with an eye on this fixture and it will be an early test for the young Portuguese manager.

Manchester United have, in no uncertain terms, set the early standards of the season. They have dominated every game so far, scored numerous goals and have terrorized oppositions. Sir Alex Ferguson's new signings, Phil Jones and Ashley Young, have both instantly settled into the team and a year which was to be a transition period for the club has started off in a markedly better manner than last season. Although United drew 1-1 against Benfica in midweek, the side was a second-string team as most of the starters were rested for this fixture. It all makes for an entertaining game on Sunday.

What United will be banking on is the abundant pace they have up front through the quartet of Ashley Young, Nani, Javier Hernandez and Wayne Rooney. Opposing defenders have found it hard to withstand their lightening-fast attacks and the home side will look to exploit Chelsea centre-half John Terry's lack of pace although the Blues will be hoping David Luiz can aid his skipper with his own fast legs. It is unclear as to whether he will start though, as the excitable Brazilian could have been easily red carded in his last two outings against United. It could be a risk to start him.

However, Chelsea have the best record at Old Trafford of all Premiership clubs in recent times while United haven't had a stern test yet this term. They demolished a depleted Arsenal while the win over Spurs came at the time when the London side was unsettled with Luka Modric's transfer saga.

The Blues will be hoping to find the perfect balance between creativity, provided mainly through new additions Mata and Meireles, and the typical orthodox physicality.

Although many favour United to sweep this one away, Chelsea could get something out of this. It should be a thriller.

Team News

Manchester United will be without the injured quartet of Tom Cleverley, Rafael, Danny Welbeck and captain Nemanja Vidic. However, Rio Ferdinand, who sat of the midweek draw with Benfica, is expected to be recalled.

Chelsea striker Didier Drogba has failed to recover from a concussion sustained against Norwich, and is sidelined. However, John Terry and Frank Lampard are set to make their return after being rested in midweek.

Match Fact

This meeting will be the 162nd between the two sides with Manchester United holding the upper hand with 70 wins to Chelsea's 44. Chelsea have a favourable record at Old Trafford though, and United ended a run of three successive home defeats to the Blues when they won 2-1 in May.

Prediction - 

Although Manchester United have been sweeping all before them, this is their first real test of the season. Although AVB knows it is still early days, he will not want to have a five point gap with United. Expect a well contested draw.

Manchester United 2-2 Chelsea