Chelsea and Manchester United face each other in arguably the Premier League’s biggest clash this weekend.
With the Blues on the ropes and the Red Devils showing a shamelessly pragmatic streak against their big six rivals, Sunday’s meeting at Stamford Bridge feels like a particularly poignant encounter, one further enriched by countless Jose Mourinho subplots.
But how have the two teams fared in this fixture down the years as we celebrate the Premier League’s 25th anniversary? Football FanCast take a look…
Somewhat surprising considering how dominant Manchester United were during the first half of the Premier League era, Chelsea have historically always done well against the Red Devils.
In fact, before Jose Mourinho guided the Blues to their first ever Premier League title in 2004/05, Chelsea had only lost seven times to United in the league from 22 encounters, although four of those defeats were dished out at Stamford Bridge.
And in terms of recent history, the Blues have proved superior as well – Sunday’s visitors haven’t won on Chelsea’s patch since 2012 and the 2-0 victory at Old Trafford last season was their first over the west Londoners in that time.
Accordingly, it’s Chelsea who come out on top in terms of goals scored and wins – but they’ve still failed to record a win-rate of 50% or greater at Stamford Bridge.
Two Manchester United legends top the scoring charts in this fixture, Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes – although the former produced his six goals in 20 outings for the Red Devils compared to Scholes’ 26. That includes three alone during the most potent season of the former England international’s career, following up a goal at Old Trafford with a brace at Stamford Bridge in 2011/12.
There are some Chelsea representatives as well though in Eidur Gudjohnsen and Mark Hughes – who spent three seasons with both clubs in the Premier League. In fact, only Newcastle conceded more goals from the Icelandic icon than United throughout his career in English football.
The best strike-rate though, belongs to Chicharito, who hasn’t scored more goals against any club to date with a whopping eight. Four of those came in five Premier League outings for United, only three of which he started.
Incredibly, only eight footballers have plied their trade with both Chelsea and Manchester United throughout the Premier League era, a list that includes such ill-fated names Mark Bosnich, Radamel Falcao and Juan Sebastian Veron. Two who’ll be involved on Sunday fall into that category as well in Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic. But in terms of players adored by both sets of fans, there’s a duo that particularly stand out – Mark Hughes and Juan Mata, not least because of their eye-catching and technical styles of play.
Hughes featured in three Premier League seasons for both the Blues and the Red Devils, producing similar scoring tallies for both and helping the latter win two of the first three titles, before helping the former place the foundations to eventually become the exciting club Roman Abramovich felt compelled to invest in.
Mata, meanwhile, never won the title at Stamford Bridge and is still awaiting his first with United. But he was Chelsea’s No.10 when they won the Champions League and while he’s rarely been a guaranteed starter since moving to Old Trafford, the fans always like to see him in the starting XI.
Perhaps more iconic games come to mind, but this clash in October 2012 contained a bit of everything – a calamitous own goal, a gorgeous free kick, an Ashley Young dive, two controversial red cards and two comebacks in a relentlessly unpredictable affair. Poignantly too, both sides were first and second in the Premier League table at the time.
It was the visitors who took the initiative as a Robin van Persie shot cannoned off the post, onto David Luiz’s back and eventually into the net, and they soon doubled their advantage as the Dutchman, who arrived that summer, latched onto an Antonio Valencia cross (he was still a winger back then) to poke home from long range.
But Chelsea were reigning European champions at this point and nothing if not proud. And it was Mata who gave them something to cling onto going into the break, whipping a delicious free kick beyond David De Gea to bring his side back into the match. A Ramires header soon made it 2-2, but it was referee Mark Clattenburg who would have the most intrinsic influence on the eventual scoreline.
First Branislav Ivanovic saw red as he was deemed to have sent Ashley Young hurling on the edge of the box, although the way the England international brought his body across the Chelsea defender’s path before tumbling over was certainly suspicious, and then ironically enough, Fernando Torres was issued a second yellow for simulation.
That left Chelsea with just nine men and the pressure duly told. Javier Hernandez entered the fray from the bench and after Petr Cech had pulled off a stunning late save, he stayed alive in the box to tap home a rebounding cross from Rafael. Comeback complete and it proved to be a huge one in both of their seasons; while Chelsea sacked Roberto Di Matteo just a month later, Sir Alex Ferguson would go on to lift his final Premier League title before retiring.