Over the last fifteen years or so, the rivalry between Manchester United and Chelsea has become one of the most important in England thanks to the near-constant involvement of both teams in the Premier League title race. This season, though, it's been a different story, a story that gives this match a much different tone and a more desperate edge than we usually see when these two giants face off.
With Chelsea spending most of their season trying to stay away from the relegation race and Manchester United currently trying to keep their season from spiraling away into a fiery car crash, the title race is the furthest thing from anyone's minds. But with the situation as it is, the urgency and perhaps even the meaning of this match is much greater than we've seen from the rivalry in some time. Both teams have a massive point to prove right now, needing to demonstrate that yes, they are competent, and yes, they can be a side to be reckoned with right now.
With wounded pride and dented dreams can come a more dangerous and determined foe, and that's exactly what we could see from both Chelsea and Manchester at Stamford Bridge in London. This has all the makings of a must-watch match, because it's going to be utterly unpredictable for what's going to happen on the pitch.
Key player -- Ander Herrera (Manchester United)
One of Chelsea's biggest weaknesses this season has been the form and consistency of their central midfielders, especially when it comes to opposing the other team's possession game. That means that Herrera can play a massive role in this match to keep Manchester in charge of proceedings and able to take the game to Chelsea. His calm in possession and ability to pick the right pass to drive things forward is unmatched in Manchester's midfield, and it will be key to their chances of winning this game.
Key matchup -- Oscar (Chelsea) vs. Morgan Schneiderlin (Manchester United)
Oscar's form has been steadily improving lately, and even though he's been frequently deployed as a wide midfielder, he'll still spend a significant amount of time drifting inside to more directly support the striker. That means that Schneiderlin will be spending a fair amount of his time on the pitch dealing with Oscar himself, something he's generally done well when asked to over the last couple of years. If he can get the better of the Brazilian again, it will be much, much easier for Manchester to keep Chelsea's attack in check.
Chelsea injuries and suspensions
Out: Loic Remy, Radamel Falcao In doubt: Pedro Rodriguez
Manchester United injuries and suspensions
Out: Bastian Schweinsteiger, Ashley Young, Marcos Rojo, Antonio Valencia, Luke Shaw In doubt: Phil Jones
Match Date/Time: Sunday, 11 a.m. ET, 4 p.m. local
Venue: Stamford Bridge, London, England
TV: NBCSN (U.S. - English), Telemundo (U.S. - Spanish), Sportsnet regional networks (Canada), Sky Sports 1/HD (U.K.)
Online: NBC Sports Live Extra (U.S.), Sportsnet World Now (Canada), Sky Go (U.K.)