Nani and Paul Scholes dropped to the bench for the visitors as former England captain makes surprise return, while Carlo Ancelotti finds no place for Nicolas Anelka
The former England captain has not played since the beginning of February and while Sir Alex Ferguson surprised many by including him in training yesterday, his decision to start the veteran centre-back will come as something of a shock.
The defender faces off against a Torres and Drogba, with the former used as a substitute in Chelsea's trip to Stoke at the weekend. The two have seldom played together and the Spaniard has yet to score for his new club following his £50 million move from Liverpool, but his strike partner this evening ended his own miserable scoring spell by netting the equaliser at on Saturday.
Ferguson has also thrown an attacking wildcard by leaving Nani and Paul Scholes on the bench, with Antonio Valencia and Park Ji-Sung filling in the wide roles for United as Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez lead the line.
Both managers have big-name forwards to call upon from the bench as Nicolas Anelka and Dimitar Berbatov are both edged out by striking rivals.
Chelsea: Cech; Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry, Cole; Ramires, Essien, Lampard, Zhirkov; Drogba, Torres.
Subs: Turnbull, Benayoun, Mikel, Malouda, Ferreira, Kalou, Anelka.
Manchester United: Van der Sar; Rafael, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Valencia, Carrick, Giggs, Park; Rooney, Hernandez.
Subs: Kuszczak, Berbatov, Smalling, Nani, Scholes, Evans, Gibson.