Chelsea head to Old Trafford on Sunday as they head in to the Premier League run in. The league leaders are hoping to maintain their seven point advantage over Spurs, and they’ve been warned to stay focused by boss Antonio Conte. The Blues need just five more victories to take back the title they last won in 2015. Will they be able to earn one of those wins over the man who led them to that last title? This is the first time that the Blues visit Old Trafford with Jose Mourinho in the home dug-out, which should make this a fiery occasion.
The former Chelsea boss has suffered two damaging defeats to his old club already this season, the first was a 4-0 loss in their last league encounter. A defeat at Stamford Bridge last month ended the Red Devils’ FA Cup hopes, can they get revenge by putting a dent in the Blues’ title push? It would certainly make for a nervy end if Spurs were to move within four points, so a loss here could be a massive blow to the leaders’ hopes of lifting the title next month. However, United’s Europa League exertions could just swing this towards the visitors.
Team News: Conte unlikely to change ahead of final big test
Once again Antonio Conte has no injury worries ahead of the weekend, let’s hope he isn’t getting too comfortable with having a full squad. While the stability and options are pushing the Blues clear at the top, the challenge comes next season when they’re playing two games per week. However, the run in allows them enough recovery time to keep a settled side, so we expect Conte to keep the same XI which saw off Bournemouth last weekend. Having reverted back to the strongest side, it’s hard to see any reason to change ahead of one of the last big challenges which the leaders face in their title push.
Mourinho’s Manchester United are a perfect example of the problems caused by a fixture pile up. Former Chelsea midfielder Juan Mata misses out on Sunday, while Ashley Young is also unavailable. Defenders Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are out, which leaves the Red Devils looking a little short on numbers at the back. The big question is over Mourinho’s formation. Las weekend he seemed to revert to the 4-3-3 he used when he first arrived at Stamford Bridge, but we wouldn’t rule out a 3-5-2 set up, to try and match Chelsea’s midfield.
Manchester United Form
Manchester United are unbeaten in 14 Premier League matches, but they’re not winning enough games to push on into the top four. The Red Devils have drawn 56% of their outings at Old Trafford, which is mostly down to their scoring woes, with a huge overreliance on Zlatan Ibrahimovic, as shown in their toothless FA Cup loss at the Bridge last month.
United’s real success this season has been in the cups, with the League Cup won by Mourinho once again. He’s hoping to add a Europa League winners medal to their haul this term, and the Portuguese admitted that European silverware is more important than their push for fourth. He’s basically going to have to ape one of his great rivals this term, or fail completely. Does he take Arsene Wenger’s fourth place trophy, or follow in Rafa Benitez’s footsteps by leading an English giant to a second rate European trophy? It sounds like Mourinho’s nightmare.
Manchester United v Chelsea Head to Head
Before the recent Conte v Mourinho clashes, things were pretty even between these two sides. They drew both meetings last term, both of which came after Mourinho was dismissed from the Stamford Bridge dugout. The last meeting between these sides at Old Trafford was almost 16 months ago, and it’s safe to say the Blues’ fortunes have changed since then.
- Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United, Mar 2017
- Chelsea 4-0 Manchester United, Oct 2016
- Chelsea 1-1 Manchester United, Feb 2016
- Manchester United 0-0 Chelsea, Dec 2015
- Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United, Apr 2015
- Chelsea draw no bet – 19/20 with Coral
- Eden Hazard to score any time – 2/1 with SkyBet
This game is incredibly even according to the bookies, who can’t seem to settle on a clear favourite. Manchester United are just out in front in the betting, with Betfair making them 17/10 to take maximum points at home. However, Chelsea aren’t far behind at 9/5 with BetVictor. Meanwhile, you can back the draw at 11/5 with Bet365. Clearly there’s little between the two sides, and with United focusing elsewhere, they could well come up short at home to the leaders. We can’t see much value in the match betting, so we suggest looking elsewhere for a punt on this game.
We do like the look of Chelsea on the draw no bet market, seeing as United could be left running on empty. The Red Devils don’t have the biggest squad at their disposal right now, thanks to their injury list. That doesn’t give Mourinho a lot of options to change things between Thursday and Sunday, so we could see the leaders pulling off a result. By backing it on the draw no bet market, there’s a definite safety net. United have drawn nine of their last 13 at home in the league, so we’re backing the visitors draw no bet at 19/20 with Coral.
If anyone can inspire Chelsea to the victory, it’s Eden Hazard. Just as he did in 2015, the Belgian is picking up the slack from Diego Costa in the back half of the campaign. Once again, the Spaniard has seen his goals dry up after the turn of the year, but Hazard has scored three in his last two, all of them crucial goals. In a massive meeting with Manchester United, we expect the Belgian to make the difference. We’re backing him to score any time at 2/1 with SkyBet.