It's been a mad mad mad mad mad mad weekend so far in the Premier League, though I suppose in the greater context of this mad mad mad mad mad mad season, it's just about par for the course.
Leicester City confirmed their title credentials for the manyeth time, summarily dispatching Manchester City 3-1 at the Etihad. When you have Robert Huth scoring a brace against the team who have been consensus title favorites for much of the season, you know some universal forces of good are working in your favor. For Claudio Ranieri, perennial runner-up, to finally win a top flight title with unfancied little Leicester would be amazing, heart-warming, tremendous, lovely. If Chelsea can't win the title — and, clearly, we're not winning it this season — I can't think of a better outcome than The Tinkerman getting his (incidentally, without having to tinker much with his lineups).
No, you are not trapped in a Football Manager save... https://t.co/oOdptcEsqj— Football Manager (@FootballManager) February 6, 2016
If Leicester at the top isn't enough craziness, we now have Spurs in second as well, the highest position they've ever occupied in the table this late in the season since the inception of the Premier League. City and Arsenal round out the top four, with the former doing everything to play well below their capabilities (not exactly a good advertisement for Pellegrini) and the latter winless in four in fourth. How very Arsenal.
The logjam in the middle is where we are. Thirteen points separate first from fifth, same as the gap fifth from sixteenth. Manchester United of course do have a game in hand over most, but since they're about to lose at Stamford Bridge, the previous statement will still stand on Sunday night. Right?
Date / Time: Sunday, February 7, 2016, 16:00 GMT; 11am EST; 9:30pm IST
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Michael Oliver — the babyfaced assassin is back at the Bridge for the first time since the season opener, when he sent Thibaut Courtois off in the 2-2 draw against Swansea. Since then, he's also refereed our dour 0-0 draw at White Hart Lane. In fact, the last three Chelsea matches he's taken charge of have all ended in a draw.
Forecast: The rough weather continues, with heavy showers and potential gale-force winds later in the afternoon. Fun fun fun!
On TV: Sky Sports 1 (UK); NBCSN, Telemundo (USA); Star Sports 4 / HD 4 (India); elsewhere
Streaming online: Sky Go (UK); NBC Sports Live Extra, NBC Deportes En Vivo Extra (USA); Star Sports (India)
Chelsea team news: Loic Remy and Radamel Falcao remain out injured, or on their way to China, or both. Pato is on his way, too, on his way to full fitness. Eventually. Sometime this century, presumably. He's on a special pre-season routine, apparently. He's going to be amazing in the two weeks he'll eventually be available to play for us this season, isn't he?
Which once again leaves just one available striker, Diego Costa. On his fourth try since joining Chelsea, he's finally available to face Manchester United. With the visitors expected to field a somewhat conservative back six, Costa will have his work cut out for him.
Wednesday's 0-0 means that Chelsea are unbeaten in 10 straight, albeit with 5 draws. One of those draws was our visit to Old Trafford in December. Wouldn't be surprising for this match to be the 6th.
Manchester United team news: Since that draw against Chelsea, United have actually put together a decent run of results (5 wins from 7), though not nearly good enough to prevent the impending managerial change, probably at the conclusion of the season. Also since that draw, Wayne Rooney has seven goals in seven matches and Anthony Martial looks dangerous once again. For more on United's current state, be sure to read Rob's analysis of the crumbling empire.
The visitors continue to hover near the top of the injury table as well, with six major absentees expected to miss the Chelsea trip, most of them defenders or defensive players. Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo, Ashley Young, Bastian Schweinsteiger, and Antonio Valencia are confirmed out for sure, though Phil Jones might make his latest comeback from a recurring ankle injury.
View from the enemy: The Busby Babe
Previously: This fixture last season all but confirmed Chelsea as the champions of England. Eden Hazard scored a lovely goal through David de Gea's legs.