“Manchester United are going to have to play at their absolute maximum and at a level they haven’t played at so far this season if they are going to win,” Neville, who won eight BPL titles at Man Utd, told premierleague.com.
“But they are capable because they have got some special players, like Angel Di Maria, Juan Mata, Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao, and they are capable of producing some fantastic moments. If they can defend well as team, and those players can be on top form, then Chelsea will have problems as well.
“The interesting thing will be to see how Jose Mourinho approaches the game. Whether they’ll play like they did at Manchester City, where they allowed City to come on to them and then counter-attacked. Or will he think, ‘no we are better than Man Utd, we are going to go out and play an expansive game’?
United must make do without the suspended Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick, who remains short of match fitness with an ankle injury, while Chelsea’s Loic Remy is ruled out after picking up a groin injury in Chelsea’s 6-0 rout of Maribor in the UEFA Champions League and leading scorer Diego Costa is rated by his manager Jose Mourinho as having “a little chance” of playing after hamstring and virus problems.
Old Trafford ‘atmosphere’
But whoever makes the starting line-up for Chelsea, Neville knows United’s defence will have to be on their mettle to thwart the west Londoners. If they are, Neville believes Van Gaal’s side can emerge triumphant.
“If Diego Costa and Loic Remy do not play, that’s a big boost for United,” he said. “United have been indifferent at the back this season, they have had lots of injuries, they have got a young back four, and it will be interesting to see how they handle Chelsea’s attack.
“The atmosphere at Old Trafford will be fantastic. If they can get the crowd behind them, United is the type of place where this fantastic Chelsea team could come unstuck.”
The Chelsea encounter starts a daunting run of fixtures for Man Utd, with trips to Manchester City, Arsenal, Southampton and a home fixture against Liverpool looming on the horizon.
“We are going to find out about United in this next period,” Neville added. “The fixtures that they have had so far were the lesser teams and it’s been a struggle at times. It’s been difficult away from home for them this season. They should be doing a lot better but they are a new team, with a new manager, it takes time.”
For press conference quotes from Louis Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho, click here >>
Manchester United (from): Amos, De Gea, Johnstone, Lindegaard, Blackett, Blind, Jones, Rafael, Rojo, Shaw, Smalling, Vermijl, Anderson, Di Maria, Fellaini, Fletcher, Herrera, James, Januzaj, Mata, Young, Falcao, W Keane, Van Persie, Wilson.
Chelsea (from): Cech, Courtois, Schwarzer, Ake, Azpilicueta, Cahill, Christensen, Filipe, Ivanovic, Terry, Zouma, Fabregas, Hazard, Matic, Mikel, Oscar, Ramires, Salah, Willian, Costa, Drogba, Schurrle.