24 October 2014 18:29
Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal will not be surprised if striker Diego Costa is involved when Chelsea visit Old Trafford on Sunday.
Costa has not featured for his club since the international break earlier this month, having aggravated a hamstring injury on duty with Spain.
The 26-year-old has also been laid low by a viral infection that forced him to be admitted to hospital earlier this week.
However, Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho revealed on Friday that Costa “has a little chance” of facing United, and Van Gaal feels the Premier League’s joint top scorer is likely to play some part.
“I think that Jose shall play with him when he can because he wants to win,” said the Dutchman.
“Of course he can play maybe, because he has trained individually. I have heard and read on the websites. I also have my eyes always open.
“He’s scored nine [goals] out of seven [games] – that is remarkable. So he’s in good shape, I think.
“But he was ill yesterday [Thursday] so you never know.”
Chelsea hold a five-point lead at the top of the Premier League after claiming seven wins and a draw in a fine start to the season.
United sit 10 points back in sixth and Van Gaal acknowledges his side face a stiff challenge this weekend.
“Chelsea are one of the top teams, I think also Manchester City are at the moment,” he added.
“Jose has worked more than one year already with his team and last year they didn’t win any prizes, so you have to build up and he has built up Chelsea.
“They are playing like a team and I want my team to do that as well, but to play for 90 minutes.
“We did that against West Bromwich Albion [on Monday in a 2-2 draw], played as a team, but we also made individual errors. That was our problem.”
United will be without captain Wayne Rooney as he completes a three-game suspension, while Michael Carrick (ankle) remains short of match fitness.
However, Angel di Maria has been passed fit following a thigh injury scare.
Chelsea striker Loic Remy has been ruled out after picking up a groin injury in a midweek UEFA Champions League rout of Maribor.
Mourinho was content to play it safe when settling for a goalless draw at Old Trafford last season but insists he wants a win this time around.
The Chelsea boss said: “We are playing well, we are confident, we are top of the league and we are in a good position to qualify in the Champions League. The camp is happy and we are ready for the game.
“We go to every match to win but sometimes during a game a point is a positive point and a positive result.
“Last year, at a certain moment the game was very difficult to win and I think both teams accepted the point as a normal result.
“On Sunday we go to win. If you give me one point now – and we don’t have to play the game – I will not accept it. I want to fight for the three points.”