Chelsea defence can set up Torres assault
The stage is set for the Premier League title showdown between Manchester United and Chelsea on Sunday.
It is likely to be a relatively open game - as many recent encounters between the two sides have been - yet there is a key difference for this match as Sir Alex Ferguson's side only need to draw.
Chelsea, on the other hand, must win. If they repeat the result they earned at Old Trafford last season, they will go top of the table on goal difference.
United find themselves in this position after losing to Arsenal last weekend, when Michael Carrick and Anderson formed a two-man central midfield - with Wayne Rooney dropping in to help out - and were overrun by Arsenal's Jack Wilshere, Alex Song and Aaron Ramsey.
But given the circumstances surrounding Sunday's match, former Chelsea winger Pat Nevin believes that United will opt for a change in personnel.
"I do the tactical notes for the away team in Chelsea's programme and I hate doing them for Manchester United because they are the one team that change more than anyone else," he says.
"If anyone else other than Sir Alex Ferguson changed their tactics that much you would assume they are worried about the opposition but when he adapts his tactics he's doing it because he thinks it is right to exploit the weaknesses in the other team. It's a very different thing from most managers.
"Tactically, I can't see United going 4-4-2 as they have against Chelsea in the past - they are reacting to the situation they are in. They only need a draw so there's no need for them to be so open. I suspect the sensible thing will be 4-4-1-1 with Rooney behind Javier Hernandez or it could be Ryan Giggs behind Rooney.
"They were beaten this way by Arsenal but I think they didn't use the right players. I would suspect that you can't always leave Giggs and Paul Scholes out because of their ability to be comfortable on the ball. Carrick didn't have his best day either against Arsenal and he has played well this season.
"The biggest question is over Anderson, because up until the Champions League semi-final second leg against Schalke on Wednesday, he had not done that well this season. That all goes onto the back burner if the returning Darren Fletcher is risked. If he is fit, and Ferguson thinks he is up for an entire game, he will use him."
Although Chelsea have to win to stand a realistic chance of winning back-to-back Premier League titles, Nevin does not believe boss Carlo Ancelotti will make significant alterations to his side, other than starting with Didier Drogba instead of Fernando Torres.
"I think what Chelsea need to do is keep as much as possible in their back pockets for the last 15-20 minutes," Nevin says. "If they go up there and do what they are comfortable with then it is that usual 4-3-3. Everybody knows that last time in the Champions League quarter-final at Old Trafford they played Torres in the middle of the front three and it didn't work. I don't blame Torres for that, but that system doesn't suit him, as Chelsea do not have a scheming midfielder like Liverpool's Steven Gerrard.
"You would have Florent Malouda in there, Drogba and then Salomon Kalou or Nicolas Anelka on the right but what I would hope is, if they are not winning, then they really take a chance. What I would like to see - and I think eventually they will to do this - is Yossi Benayoun playing behind Torres.
"When they bring Torres on and not Benayoun I always think: why bother? Torres will keep making the runs and people will rarely find him, but Benayoun will because he can play the killer pass.
"Maybe that is what Chelsea will do; play 4-3-3 and then adapt a version of that with Drogba on the right of the front three and then Torres through the middle. You must have Benayoun in the midfield though."
Another key difference from the two Champions League quarter-finals between the two clubs is the return of Chelsea centre-back David Luiz.
The Brazilian made a significant contribution the last time Manchester United and Chelsea squared up in the Premier League, scoring his side's first goal and then being lucky to stay on field after a foul on Rooney.
Nevin says the defender's initial surge in form, where he also scored against Manchester City, has now dropped away and the 24-year-old would do well to keep his game simple against United.
"I think he had that initial two or three games where he was very special but then people could clearly see what his weaknesses were: he dives in too quickly and he's a bit impetuous," Nevin adds.
"But I think the manager will have told him that this is the type of game where you just do your job. Break forward when the opportunity is on but only when the opportunity is on, and don't get carried away.
"I think he will continue to try and nip in and take the ball but I'd be wary because you can't do that against Hernandez. In games like these you need to be a sensible defender."
It is that approach which has got Chelsea into this position, according to Nevin.
"For me, everyone talks about United's defence being the best around with Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Edwin van der Sar but I can't see past Chelsea's back five," he says.
"With Petr Cech, Ashley Cole, Branislav Ivanovic, John Terry and Luiz, I don't think there is a better defensive unit, maybe in Europe.
"I've continually said that people should not write off Chelsea but it's not that amazing given that they had games in hand and United had tough away games, plus the fact that they've not been great away from home this season."
With home advantage, Ferguson's side will be odds-on to get a result but against the meanest defence in the Premier League and with Torres likely to be introduced from the bench, there is a clear strategy to throw the hosts off course.