Sir Alex Ferguson eyes midfield role for Rooney ahead of Chelsea summit meeting

The striker is to drop back into the position which he filled against Newcastle earlier in October while Darren Fletcher could make his first league start in nearly a year
By Greg Stobart

Wayne Rooney will be restored to a midfield role in Sunday's Premier League summit meeting against Chelsea as Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson goes on the defensive in a bid to improve his side's dire recent record at Stamford Bridge.

The burgeoning partnership between the Englishman and Robin van Persie has provided one of the more encouraging aspects of United's start to the new season. The deadly duo have contributed eight league goals to the Old Trafford outfit's cause already this term and dovetailed to devastating effect in October 20's 4-2 victory against Stoke City.

But United's patchy defensive form – they have conceded four times in two games and fallen behind in eight of their 12 matches in all competitions this term – allied to their poor record in west London has convinced Sir Alex to opt for a more conservative 4-5-1 line-up against the league leaders.

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Although United battled back from 3-0 down to force an improbable draw in the corresponding fixture last season, their record at the home of the current European champions, where they have not won in the league for over 10 years, is poor.

Rooney, who opened his season's account for his club with a brace against Tony Pulis' side, will therefore be restored to the midfield role which he filled with distinction against Newcastle in a 3-0 win earlier in October, with Sir Alex mindful of needing to thwart Chelsea's attacking triumvirate of Oscar, Eden Hazard and Juan Mata.

The Scot must also perm one from three of Anderson, Paul Scholes and Darren Fletcher, who is in line to make his first Premier League start since last November after impressing in training this week.

Shinji Kagawa misses out with the knee injury that is set to rule him out for up to a month but Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra will be restored to the defence after they were rested for the narrow midweek victory over Braga.

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