Ex-Manchester United defender Garry Neville believes his former club will have to come up with their best performance of the season so far to stand any chance of snatching three points at the expense of league leaders Chelsea.
The Old Trafford outfit, under Louis van Gaal, has won three of their last five matches and could move up to fifth with a win over the high-flying Chelsea in front of its faithful.
“Manchester United are going to have to play at their absolute maximum and at a level they haven’t played at so far this season if they are going to win,” Neville, who was speaking at the opening of a £978,807 state-of-the-art changing pavilion- built with funding from the Premier League and The FA Facilities Fund- in Horwich, Greater Manchester, said .
Chelsea have only dropped points so far in a 1-1 draw at Manchester City last month. They could regain a five point lead over second-placed Southampton with victory on Sunday.
Following a seventh-place league finish last season, United have added several high-profile signings to its squad but have struggled to maintain consistency with a bunch of its defenders and midfielders yet to fully recover from injury.
The former right-back, who made 400 appearances for United between 2001 and 2011, understands the ‘Red Devils’’ defence will have to be at their most resilient best to stop a side that has scored 23 goals and conceded 8 already.
“But they are capable because they have got some special players, like Angel Di Maria, Juan Mata, Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao, and they are capable of producing some fantastic moments,” Neville, who won eight Premier League titles at United, said. “If they can defend well as team, and those players can be on top form, then Chelsea will have problems as well.
“The interesting thing will be to see how Jose Mourinho approaches the game. Whether they’ll play like they did at Manchester City, where they allowed City to come on to them and then counter-attacked. Or will he think, ‘no we are better than Man Utd, we are going to go out and play an expansive game’?”
United will be without the suspended Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick, who is yet to fully recover from an ankle injury.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has confirmed French striker, Loic Remy, will be sidelined for two weeks and that Diego Costa, joint-top league scorer with nine goals has “little chance” of featuring against United.
“If Diego Costa and Loic Remy do not play, that’s a big boost for United,” he added. “United have been indifferent at the back this season, they have had lots of injuries, they have got a young back four, and it will be interesting to see how they handle Chelsea’s attack.
“The atmosphere at Old Trafford will be fantastic. If they can get the crowd behind them, United is the type of place where this fantastic Chelsea team could come unstuck.”