Manchester United defender Jonny Evans believes the Red Devils have the mental edge over rivals Chelsea, as the two heavyweights prepare for a Stamford Bridge league and cup double-header.
Sir Alex Ferguson and Roberto Di Matteo will face-off on 25 October and 28 October, in Premier League and Capital One Cup games respectively. The 24 year old Northern Irish international feels his side have the advantage, particularly since they have been able to rotate their squad.
"I think the manager has been good at rotating the squad over the years. He always seems to get it right," he explained to the club's Web site, referring to Ferguson resting the likes of Antonio Valencia, Danny Welbeck and Paul Scholes from the midweek Champions League game against SC Braga. United were forced to come back, again, from a goal down, but managed a 3-2 win over the Portuguese club.
"Whereas Chelsea always seem to play a full-strength squad in most games so it may give us a wee bit of advantage going into the game," the defender added, cautioning his side, "The way Chelsea have been scoring goals, they scored four again at the weekend [at Tottenham]... it's going to be a tough away game down there, it always is, and it's up to us to put on a good performance."
There is also the matter of travel and associated fatigue.
United were fortunate in that the schedule allowed them to play this round of midweek games at home. The Blues, meanwhile, were forced to travel to Ukraine to play Shakhtar Donetsk and the fact they suffered their first defeat since the shocking 1-4 loss to Spanish side Atletico Madrid in the European Super Cup in August cannot help matters for the Premier League leaders.
Cleverly to Get New Contract
Meanwhile, young midfielder Tom Cleverly is to be offered a new contract after impressive performances this season earned the 23 year old his national team debut, in a friendly against Italy in August.
Goal.com reports the youngster presently makes £40,000 per week and signed a contract in October last year, which is valid till the end of the 2015 season. The new contract on offer, it is believed, will bring his earnings level with fellow youngsters Chris Smalling and Phil Jones and could be as high as £60,000 per week. The figure is believed to be reflective of the key role the player now occupies in both the United and England set-ups.