LONDON: Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho’s pursuit of Manchester United’s unsettled striker Wayne Rooney has added spice to the first big Premier League match of the season when the title rivals clash at Old Trafford on Monday.
The west London club have already tabled two bids for the England forward and have not ruled out making a third, despite new United boss David Moyes’s steadfast refusal to sell.
“We have Plans B and C,” Mourinho said ahead of Wednesday’s home game against Aston Villa, which they won 2-1 thanks to a second-half header from Serbian Branislav Ivanovic.
“Don’t ask me names because it’s difficult to speak about players from other clubs. We have the conditions to try to improve our team by bringing in one more player and we are going to try that till the end.”
The Blues are keen to add to their striking options of Fernando Torres, Romelu Lukaku and Demba Ba but United do not want to sell to a Premier League title challenger despite the form of Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck, who each scored twice in an opening 4-1 win at Swansea City on Saturday.
Monday’s match between two of the Premier League’s biggest rivals sees David Moyes in charge of United at home in the league for the first time since replacing Alex Ferguson, a man whose absence the returning Mourinho said would be strange.
“It will be difficult for me, and I think all managers, to go to Old Trafford and play against Manchester United without this mythical figure waiting for us,” he recently told Sky Sports.
The match (kickoff 1900 GMT) is part of another busy start to the season for Europa League holders Chelsea, who take on European champions Bayern Munich for the Super Cup in Prague on Friday, a repeat of the 2012 Champions League final.
It is also the first in a tough run of fixtures for former Everton boss Moyes’ side, who also play Liverpool and Manchester City in coming weeks, and the Scot will be desperate to make an early mark in front of his new fans at Old Trafford.
Arsenal will look to put their off-pitch woes to one side when they make the short trip to Fulham on Saturday (1145).
Manager Arsene Wenger has been under fire for a lack of transfer activity, especially after a shock 3-1 home defeat by Aston Villa on Saturday, though he maintains reinforcements will be brought in before the transfer window shuts on September 2.
One player ruled out of the game is winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who injured his knee against Villa and could be out for three months or at least six weeks, according to Wenger.
“Gutted I’m injured so early in the season. But I’m going to be working hard to hopefully be back playing in 3 months,” the player tweeted on Tuesday.
Newcastle United will hope for a significant improvement on their 4-0 thrashing at Manchester City when they host West Ham United on Saturday (1400), a match which sees Sam Allardyce return to St James’ Park where he briefly managed in 2007-8.
Cardiff City host their first top-flight match since 1962 when Manchester City travel to South Wales on Sunday (1500) and are confident Danish striker Andreas Cornelius will make his Premier League debut after missing the 2-0 defeat at West Ham.
The Welsh side’s chances of gaining their first Premier League points could be slim, however, despite the likely absence of captain Vincent Kompany with Manuel Pellegrini’s expensively assembled side looking ominous in their opener.
Having splashed out over 50 million poundsto date on new players, Tottenham Hotspur will be keen to impress against Swansea City at White Hart Lane on Sunday (1500)after their opening 1-0 victory at Crystal Palace.