By Marcus ChhanFollow @@MarcusChhan
The Blues struggled to sixth in the league last season but still managed to cap the campaign off on a high note by taking home the FA Cup and UEFA Champions League trophies. On the back of this success, Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo was able to strengthen the squad with new signings in the summer to help him achieve a blistering start to the current season.
With a record which reads seven wins and one draw from their opening eight Premier League games, the Blues sit top of the table and in confident mood ahead of United's trip to Stamford Bridge.
The Red Devils, on the other hand, have not won away to Chelsea in 10 years - a 3-0 win in April 2002.
Records aside, United manager Sir Alex Ferguson will certainly have his boys pumped up for Sunday's game, though, as three points will see the Manchester club close the gap on the Blues to just one point.
Chelsea will be without the injured Frank Lampard and the suspended John Terry for the clash while reports on Saturday seemed to suggest that pre-match handshakes between United's Rio Ferdinand and Chelsea's Ashley Cole will proceed without any controversy.
Predicted Starting XIs
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Cole, Luiz, Cahill, Ramires, Mikel, Oscar, Hazard, Mata, Torres.
Form guide: WWWWD (Chelsea)
Man United: De Gea, Rafael, Evra, Evans, Ferdinand, Carrick, Scholes, Rooney, Valencia, Welbeck, Van Persie.
Form guide: WWLWW (Man United)
Key Battle: Cech vs De Gea
As opposing goalkeepers, Petr Cech and David De Gea are obviously not going to come up against each other in a one-v-one situation, but it is still important to note their potential influence on the outcome of the game.
Cech is the undisputed No. 1 for the Blues and his consistent performances in big games for Robeto Di Matteo this season in the league - including a solid outing in a 2-1 win over Arsenal in late September - means he will definitely start against United.
On the flip side, United have chopped and changed their goalkeeping personnel in the Premier League with both De Gea and Anders Lindegaard seeing action this season.
De Gea will get the nod from Sir Alex Ferguson on Sunday as the Scot does see him as the long-term No. 1 for United. However, De Gea's lack of command of the penalty box may become a factor on matchday for United who do not have a good record at Stamford Bridge.
In this instance, Chelsea appear to have the advantage here - although it should be noted that the Blues do not pepper their opponent's goal with as many high balls as before in the post-Drogba era which means any mistake from De Gea is more likely to occur from a Chelsea set-piece rather than in open-play.
Key Battle: Mikel vs Rooney
Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo pointed out in an interview the "vital role" John Obi Mikel has played in the recent success the club has enjoyed. The midfielder's defensive work often gets overlooked by fans and the media in favour of the more creative players the Blues have at their disposal. This is not the case for Di Matteo, though, and the Italian will be relying on the midfielder to limit the effectiveness of United talisman Wayne Rooney.
After a sluggish opening to the current campaign, Rooney appears to be getting hot and finding top form. Rooney is at his most dangerous when he is allowed to dictate the game in a free role - he can hurt you if you give him too much space when he receives the ball from defence, or hurt you when he is allowed to drift onto the wing to cross for a team-mate to score, or hurt you if he is not picked up when he plays through the middle behind the striker.
Somebody in a Blue shirt will need to track Rooney when he floats around these points of United's diamond, otherwise there could be hell to pay on Sunday. Look for Ramires to provide much needed help to Mikel in this department.
Key Battle: Young legs vs Old head
If my predicted starting XI is correct, Sunday will see Chelsea's youthful attacking midfield trident of Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar against a United midfield which looks a little weak (slow) defensively. What the 37-year-old Paul Scholes offers United from an offensive standpoint is obviously all positive, but the downside is he will need help from team-mates on the defensive end. This could see United's defensive shape stretched by Chelsea and there haven't been many players better than Mata or Hazard this season at finding the right passes through the gaps.
Based on what has been written so far, it looks like Chelsea are slight favourites to extend their unbeaten run over Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. However, big games like Chelsea-United are often decided by small margins or areas which during the course of the contest tip the balance in someone's favour.
In this case, United may look at the battle between their winger Antonio Valencia and Chelsea's left-back Ashley Cole as one such example. Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo is probably expecting the movement and interchanging play between Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck to cause his defence the majority of problems - and as such will have formulated a plan in the dressing room to deal with the issue. As part of the plan, he will be expecting Cole - still regarded by the Stamford Bridge faithful as the best in the world in his position - to win his head-to-head duel with Valencia.
Should the Ecuadorian get the better of the England international on Sunday, he may just be able to turn the Blue tide in United's favour.
Chelsea vs United in numbers
11 - Manchester United have not drawn away from home since their 3-3 result against Chelsea back in February.
10 - Chelsea have won 10 and lost just one of their last 13 Premier League games at Stamford Bridge.
5 - Robin van Persie has scored the joint-most goals of any visiting player at Stamford Bridge in Premier League history.
4 - Manchester United have won four and lost none of the last five matches against Chelsea in all competitions.
2 - David Luiz has scored in both of his appearances for Chelsea against United at Stamford Bridge.
Stats by Opta.