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The battle of the Bridge
by Paul Kennedy, September 19th, 2008 7AM



Chelsea and Manchester United United meet Sunday in London at Stamford Bridge in a rematch of the 2008 UEFA Champions League final (TV: Fox Soccer Channel, live, 9 am ET). United, the EPL and Champions League winner, is off to a slow start in part. It will need a result on Sunday to keep the Blues within its sight. Here's a position-by-position breakdown of the two teams ...

Manchester United. Manager Alex Ferguson's biggest worry is who to put in the middle of the backline in place of the suspended Nemanja Vidic. He could use Wes Brown alongside Rio Ferdinand and put Gary Neville at right, or he could give 20-year-old Jonny Evans a start. Whoever plays, Ferguson is confident of one thing, "I am sure we won't be giving goals away like we did last Saturday [2-1 loss to Liverpool] and therefore we go down there very positive about it."

Chelsea. The Blues got good news -- quite unexpected actually -- when captain John Terry's red card was overturned, making him available on Sunday. A positive for the Blues: the play of Portuguese right back Jose Bosingwa, an offseason signing.

Manchester United. The loss of Michael Carrick, out for a month with a broken foot, hurts. Paul Scholes was suspended for the 0-0 tie with Villarreal but should return against Chelsea.

Chelsea. With the sale of Claude Makelele to Paris St. German and the loss of Michael Essien for the season with a knee injury, young Nigerian Jon Mikel Obi takes on an important role as Chelsea's holding midfielder. Otherwise, the Blues are deep with the addition of Brazilian playmaker Deco to go along with Frank Lampard and Michael Ballack.

Manchester United. The big concern for United is its attack. Its 0-0 tie against Villarreal left it with only four goals in five games. Dimitar Berbatov has yet to have a major impact since arriving from Spurs. Wayne Rooney has yet to score this season. The good news: Cristiano Ronaldo could make an appearance on Sunday.

Chelsea. Nicolas Anelka was brought in last winter as cover for Didier Drogba on the assumption that the Ivorian star would be leaving the Blues. Drogba is still at Chelsea, though a knee injury kept him out of action until last Sunday's Man. City game. In the meantime, Anelka has scored in three of Chelsea's five games.

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