Angel Di Maria and Cesc Fabregas have both enjoyed blistering starts to Premier League life - or rebirth in the case of Fabregas - even if their clubs have had differing fortunes.
Di Maria, 26, has been a perpetually bright light in a Manchester United side that has struggled for consistency, while Fabregas’ stylish and energetic displays have helped lift Chelsea three points clear at the top of the table.
The form of both, particularly Di Maria, is likely to determine the outcome when their sides meet at Old Trafford on Sunday in an encounter that will pit two of the world’s best midfielders against each other.
VIDEO Scroll down to watch Sportsmail Premier League Preview: Manchester United vs Chelsea
Cesc Fabregas celebrates scoring his first Premier League goal for Chelsea against Crystal Palace last week
Angel Di Maria celebrates scoring his first goal for Manchester United against QPR last month
Di Maria tries a spectacular effort at goal against West Brom in United's 2-2 draw last week
Fabregas crosses the ball into the box during Chelsea's 6-0 win over NK Maribor in the Champions League
Neither player was bought with spare change. At £59.7million, recruited from Real Madrid, Di Maria broke the record British transfer fee and Fabregas was no snip either, at £26.3m from Barcelona. But with so much at stake for both clubs - they could prove to be relative bargain buys.
Di Maria, who suffered a knock in Monday night’s 2-2 draw with West Brom, is expected to be fit for Sunday. That will be music to the ears of Louis Van Gaal, who faces the biggest examination of his spell at Old Trafford so far.
With the United defence error prone, confidence shorn and likely to be exploited by Chelsea’s world class strike force, Van Gaal’s side will probably have to carve a result from their own attacking brilliance.
Thus far, Di Maria has outshone his talented team-mates, Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie by contributing three goals and four assists in his six appearances. He has been the focal point of the United attack, creating space for himself in order to feed dangerous balls to his team-mates, as he did when assisting Marouane Fellaini’s brilliant equaliser on Monday.
Di Maria is replaced by Ashley Young after picking up an injury during United's 2-2 draw with West Brom
Di Maria (third left) is expected to start against Chelsea on Sunday despite picking up a knock against WBA
Fabregas shoots and scores for Chelsea in their 2-1 win over Crystal Palace earlier this month
Fabregas celebrates with John Terry (left) and his been tipped to succeed him as Chelsea captain
He is adding sparkle and polish to a unit that has looked a bit dull at times. If he can inspire United to an unlikely victory over Chelsea, he will pay off another hefty installment of his transfer fee.
Fabregas, meanwhile, has impressed Jose Mourinho so much he is even hinting that the Spaniard could be a ready successor to John Terry as Blues’ captain. No wonder. Former Arsenal star Fabregas was man of the match on his Chelsea debut against Burnley in August and has propelled his side forward ever since. He has added versatility and attacking vigour that Chelsea were perhaps missing last season, providing more assists than any other player in the league.
Undoubtedly one of the world’s best creative players, he could spot a pass while blindfolded and has the deftness of touch to execute it perfectly. Versatile and quick thinking, he not only provides impeccable service to danger man Diego Costa but brings Eden Hazard and Oscar into play.
Di Maria avoids the challenge of Graham Dorrans (left) and Andre Wisdom (right)
Fabregas (centre) was involved in a bust-up with Palace players after Cesar Azpilicueta was sent off
Fabregas hailed the ‘connection’ between the three of them after they exchanged several passes in the build up to his first league goal of the season against Crystal Palace last week.
It is a coup for the Premier League to have Di Maria and Fabregas on the same pitch on Sunday and we are likely to get some indication as to which of these imports from Spain is more valuable.
SO, WHO COMES OUT ON TOP IN OUR HEAD-TO-HEAD? (BY RAJVIR RAI)