CHELSEA should be buoyed by the absence of Wayne Rooney in Saturday's big Premier League summit showdown at Old Trafford – and the return of their own talisman.
The ankle injury picked up by United's 34-goal striker in the Champions League clash with Bayern Munich is in contrast to Didier Drogba's return after he sat out the 7-1 mauling of Aston Villa with a slight knock.
Mystery still surrounds the return date of Michael Essien, but there is no indication that he has shaken off his knee injury. Also out are Branislav Ivanovic (knee) and Ricardo Carvalaho (ankle), who are both thought to be three weeks away from making a return.
Chelsea will be seeking their third win over United this season, having beaten them 1-0 at the Bridge – John Terry netting – and on penalties in the Community Shield after a 2-2 draw at Wembley.
John Obi Mikel will cast a few nervous looks in the direction of ref Mike Dean. He was the man who sent him off in a 2-0 defeat at Man U two seasons ago – a game that followed the exit of Jose Mourinho.
Chelsea have lost three and drawn one of their last four games at the Theatre of Dreams. There last win came in 2005 when Tiago, Eidur Gudjohnsen and Joe Cole netted in a 3-1 win at the end of Mourinho's first title winning season.