Ferguson expects tight game at Bridge
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is not expecting a repeat of his side's "crazy game" with Chelsea earlier this season when the sides clash at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
Ferguson cannot afford for United's concentration to waver against the Blues after they hauled themselves back level with Barclays Premier League leaders Manchester City in midweek.
Stamford Bridge is the next stop in an arduous sequence of fixtures which will determine the shape United will be in for the title run-in.
Ferguson realised when he met the Londoners in September that Andre Villas-Boas had introduced a new method of playing, but on Friday predicted a tighter affair this weekend.
"That was a crazy game," Ferguson said of the 3-1 win at Old Trafford in September.
"It could have been 20-18. I don't think it will be like that on Sunday. It will be much tighter."
Five months on, Chelsea still lack consistency but retain a formidable home record against the Red Devils, who they have not lost to in Premier League action since 2002.
"It's not going to be an easy game," Ferguson added.
"In the last seven years there have been many terrific battles with Chelsea.
"The manager has brought in two or three different players and I noticed when we played them earlier in the season there was a change in the style from previous Chelsea teams.
"When a new manager comes in on the back of someone as successful as Carlo Ancelotti, changes maybe take time. Everyone has their different philosophy and different ways of doing things.
"That is what we are seeing with Chelsea at the moment."
Meanwhile, Ferguson is ready to thrust David De Gea back into the spotlight at Stamford Bridge.
De Gea came in for a huge amount of criticism for his performance in last weekend's FA Cup fourth-round defeat at Liverpool.
It seemed certain Anders Lindegaard would return for the midweek encounter with Stoke, only for the Denmark international to suffer ankle ligament damage in training that could rule him out for six weeks.
Within 60 "nightmare" minutes for Ferguson on Monday, De Gea had also been ruled out of the Stoke game after taking a knock, meaning 21-year-old Ben Amos had to make his Premier League debut.
Amos kept a clean sheet too, although he had little to do other than one second-half save to deny Cameron Jerome.
"De Gea should be fit and whilst Ben Amos has had a little bit of experience, it is not the kind of experience you'd expect going into a game at Stamford Bridge," Ferguson said.
Amos had played in six senior games prior to Tuesday, and all three in United's run to the Carling Cup quarter-finals this term.
He will now be required as back-up to De Gea until the middle of March, a period that includes a last-32 Europa League encounter with Ajax and also tough domestic fixtures against Liverpool and Tottenham, in addition to the Chelsea trip.
It rules out any possibility of Amos leaving on loan and gaining further experience in addition to the half season he spent at Oldham last term.
"Ben Amos has been looking for his opportunity for quite a while and we wondered about sending him out of loan," Ferguson added.
"But it's not easy to let one of your goalkeepers go when you're in Europe. You need three keepers and that's proving its point now."
Ferguson does have greater experience in the form of former Poland international Tomasz Kuszczak.
However, having declined the opportunity to sign a contract extension, there does not seem much long-term value in keeping Amos out.
"Tomasz has been out of the picture for the last two months, so it makes it difficult for him to come back into the fold," Ferguson added.
"But Ben did very well the other night."