Chelsea-Manchester United Preview
By CHRIS ALTRUDA
(AP) -- There is no doubt Jose Mourinho revels in being the antagonist for every visit to Old Trafford to face Manchester United.
But it's what "The Special One" may do following Monday night's crunch match that could drastically alter the direction of both heavyweight sides in David Moyes' first home match guiding the Red Devils.
Emerging as a foil to former United manager Sir Alex Ferguson during his first run at Stamford Bridge, Mourinho brought Chelsea into the limelight by winning two Premier League titles in his first two seasons. The Blues remained among Europe's elite after Mourinho moved on to win a Champions League title with Inter Milan and semifinal runs all three seasons at Real Madrid before making his return to London.
With Ferguson no longer roaming the touchline and Manchester United shockingly quiet in the transfer window, Mourinho and Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich stoked the envy of the Old Trafford faithful with aggressive - and successful - pursuits of star players and further upped the ante with two bids for disgruntled star striker Wayne Rooney, which the reigning champions have rejected.
"We did (bid) before and we will do later, but I think this period - from the ethical point of view - is a period when we are going to be quiet and just thinking about that game," Mourinho said Wednesday, strongly hinting Chelsea will make one last offer after this match and before the transfer window closes Sept. 2.
For his part, Moyes again vehemently shot down the possibility of accepting the next offer, telling the team's official website Friday, "We've told you, haven't we? I hardly need to repeat it again. It doesn't need to be said."
While Mourinho is content to wait to have the final act of the Rooney saga play out, Chelsea appears to have pipped London rivals Tottenham Hotspur for the services of midfielder Willian, with the Brazilian leaving Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala for a reported transfer fee of £32 million.
"If you remember I said I was happy with my squad but every one of us managers says we are happy," Mourinho said Friday. "But we always want something more, we always want more quality and we never close the door to the possibility of adding more quality to the squad."
The quality already at Mourinho's disposal is evident as Chelsea (2-0-0) have claimed the maximum six points thus far. The Blues posted a testy 2-1 home victory over Aston Villa on Wednesday as Branislav Ivanovic netted the match-winner in the 73rd minute after barely avoiding a direct red card for elbowing Christian Benteke in the head.
Chelsea have held possession for nearly 70 percent in each contest, playing the part of a dominant side viable for domestic and continental trophies.
Meanwhile in Manchester, some of the hand-wringing that accompanied United's inability to acquire star players - and to a lesser extent, Rooney's happiness despite being a second-choice striker to Robin van Persie - melted away with a 4-1 rout at Swansea City on Aug. 17 to make Moyes a winner in his United debut.
Van Persie and Danny Welbeck each scored a brace, with Rooney coming off the bench in the 62nd minute to assist on the duo's second-half goals.
"I felt he could do a job coming on, he's not ready to start yet," Moyes said. "He made a great run for the third (goal) and then set up Welbeck."
On Monday, though, United again were thwarted trying to bolster their squad as a joint £28 million bid for Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines was roundly rejected by Everton, who called the offer "derisory and insulting."
There was no love lost between the sides before Mourinho's return, having met five times last season across all competitions. The road team won both league matches, with Chelsea posting a 1-0 victory at Old Trafford on Juan Mata's 87th-minute tally in their successful chase for a Champions League spot.
The Blues also got the better of United in both domestic cups, winning a wild 5-4 match in extra time in the fourth round of the League Cup and then a quarterfinal replay at home in the FA Cup after the teams played to a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford.
Rooney has nine goals in 26 lifetime matches against Chelsea, and four have come in his last five matches against them.
Updated August 24, 2013