Chelsea players eclipse their Manchester United counterparts in our combined XI dream team, with eight of the side heralding from Stamford Bridge.
The west London outfit entertain Louis van Gaal’s men on Saturday tea-time, with the leaders eight points clear of their third-placed opponents, having played one less game.
Despite United’s 2015 revival under van Gaal, which has seen them climb into the Champions League qualification places and win crucial matches against Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Manchester City, only three of their players feature in our starting XI.
Both teams have outstanding individuals, but who would get the nod if a manager could have his pick of the crop from both sides?
We think it would look like this:
GK: David de Gea (Man United)
It is fair to say that many of United’s positive results this term can be attributed to the outstanding Spain international, especially in the early stages of the campaign when the Red Devils’ defence was flimsy at best.
Chelsea number one Thibaut Cortois is a classy back-up on this occasion, but it was a close call.
RB: Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea)
Towering stopper Ivanovic is like a fine wine, in that he seems to get better with age. At 31, there is no sign of decline, and this season he has overtaken Manchester City’s Pablo Zabaleta as the Premier League’s best right-back.
How van Gaal would love to have him up north, as he is far superior to Rafael and Antonio Valencia.
LB: Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)
The flexible 25-year-old is right-footed but has made the left-back slot his own under boss Jose Mourinho, and he has often been preferred to summer acquisition Filipe Luis.
Daley Blind has gradually improved at Old Trafford but thrives more at wing-back than he does on the left of a back four, so he misses out.
CB: John Terry (Chelsea)
Another member of the old guard, the 34-year-old thoroughly deserved his recent one-year contract extension. A couple of years ago he looked a spent force under Rafael Benitez, but the return of Mourinho to Stamford Bridge has brought the best out of Terry.
Love or loathe him, he would walk into the United side over Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo.
CB: Gary Cahill (Chelsea)
There is no disguising that this has not been Cahill’s most successful campaign in a Chelsea shirt, and he lost his place to Frenchman Kurt Zouma in January.
However, the England international is still a more solid and consistent alternative to the usual suspects in the Red Devils’ backline.