Chelsea kick things off as the Premier League returns to action on Saturday, as they host Manchester United. Jose Mourinho makes a return to his former home yet again, after struggling in recent clashes with the Blues. So far this season the Red Devils have struggled to keep the pace with the early Premier League pacesetters, which this time around includes Chelsea. The days of Mourinho and Antonio Conte’s battling style are gone, replaced with a forward thinking approach that has pushed the Blues back into title contention.
There’s some gap between Chelsea and United – both in terms of points and performances. The Blues will likely recognise the current state of play around Old Trafford, which looks alarmingly like the final Mourinho season at Stamford Bridge. So far this term he’s seen his side struggle for form across all competitions, and it’s hard to see the Special One’s ego being prepared for a tough visit to his former stomping ground. However, does he have a plan to block “Sarrismo”?
Team News: Barkley Backed to Keep Blues Place
The Blues have found a settled side, the majority of which seems pretty easy to call. Even the battles which were once a toss up look certain, with Olivier Giroud likely to start ahead of Alvaro Morata, and Willian over Pedro. The only real contest remaining comes in the centre of midfield, and Ross Barkley seems to have the edge over Real Madrid loanee Matteo Kovacic. The former Everton man was impressive against Southampton, and after a strong display away to Spain for England, he deserves a start.
The Red Devils come here with a few injury concerns, including former Blue Nemanja Matic. The midfielder is set to miss this trip to his former home, and that leaves United slightly open in the middle of the park, with Ander Herrera also missing out this weekend. Jesse Lingard didn’t make the England squad for this month’s internationals, and he could well sit out as the Red Devils head south. It’s hard to tell just how Mourinho is going to set his side up, but you can be sure he’ll try out some mix of man marking and repetitive fouling on Eden Hazard.
Man United Form
Things certainly haven’t been going Mourinho’s way of late, and there were rumours that he was set for the sack this month. He went into their clash with Newcastle under pressure, with speculation suggesting that United would use the international break to find a replacement. The Red Devils didn’t make that change, although Mourinho did pull off a 3-2 win after being 2-0 down to the Toon, so that result could have kept him in place for now.
Before that, United had failed to win their last four games. That run included an EFL Cup exit at home to Derby, and a dull 0-0 at home to Valencia in the Champions League. Their last away trip in the Premier League brought a defeat in London, with West Ham beating them 3-1. It’s not exactly been a great start for United, who are down in eighth, while the top five are separated by just two points at the top of the table.
Chelsea v Man United Head to Head
Chelsea have the edge over United of late, and Conte departed England with a solid record over the biggest club in the country. It must have been quite bruising for Mourinho’s ego that he lost four of six meetings with Conte, including all four in London. The pair last met in the FA Cup final back in May, which Eden Hazard’s strike settled.
- Chelsea 1-0 Man United, May 2018
- Man United 2-1 Chelsea, Feb 2018
- Chelsea 1-0 Man United, Nov 2017
- Man United 2-0 Chelsea, April 2017
- Chelsea 1-0 Man United, March 2017
- Eden Hazard to score – 11/8 with Ladbrokes
- Chelsea to Win to Nil – 19/10 with BetVictor
Chelsea are well fancied for this clash, as they are priced up at 7/10 with Coral to claim the three points. The Red Devils are 4/1 with Betfred for a shock away success, while the draw can be found at 11/4 with bet365. The recent form United have shown has clearly played a part in the latest betting odds, and that has made the unbeaten Blues favourites to come away with yet another success against their former boss. However, will they be able to see out this clash with one of their top six rivals, given how they slipped up against Liverpool in their last home Premier League outing?
The Blues do at least have the Premier League’s top scorer to call upon, and Hazard clearly has a point to prove to Mourinho. He addressed his time with the Portuguese during the international break, but are things as amicable as he suggests? Even if he has regrets over his time with Mourinho, he is bound to want to punish United, who always seem to come in heavy against the Belgian. After deciding the cup final back in May, we expect Hazard to trouble United once again here. After his excellent start, we’re backing him to score any time at 11/8 with Ladbrokes.
One thing of note about the recent clashes between these two is United’s lack of goals. They’ve failed to score in their last four meetings with Chelsea in London, while they’ve been beaten to nil in four of their last five visits to Stamford Bridge. We expect the usually defensive Mourinho to try and make this game tight on Saturday, and that could see them surrender their attacking threat. With four clean sheets in their last six, we think it’s worth backing the Blues to win to nil at home this weekend. They’re priced at 19/10 with BetVictor to win and keep a clean sheet.