In-form Man Utd should make life difficult for Chelsea when they travel to Stamford Bridge to take on the league leaders on Saturday (17:30 BST, live on Sky Sports).
Chelsea come into the match on the back of a 13-match unbeaten run in all competitions and having lost just once in the league during the calendar year. They top the Premier League table with 73 points from 22 wins, seven draws and just two defeats.
Jose Mourinho’s side needed a late winner from Cesc Fabregas to overcome Queens Park Rangers in last weekend’s West London derby. It was quite an even match, with both sides creating similar opportunities. Thibaut Courtois made two very good saves to deny QPR before a poor clearance from his opposite number Rob Green led to the 88th-minute winner.
It was not the first time in 2015 that Chelsea have not been entirely convincing yet still come away with all three points. While over three-quarters of their 14 league victories before the turn of the year were achieved by a margin of two or more goals, just 25% of their eight wins since the turn of the year have been achieved by the same difference.
Mourinho will not, however, be too worried about his side’s relative drop-off in performance level given that they have still continued to pick up sufficient points to maintain a seven-point advantage over Arsenal in second, with a game in hand still to play. Chelsea have still been the league’s best side this season and would be worthy winners of the Premier League title.
Mourinho is without the injured Diego Costa (hamstring) for this fixture. Loic Remy (muscle) missed the win over QPR but is expected to return to the squad, and probably the starting XI, this weekend.
Man Utd travel south having firmly established their position in the top four with a run of six consecutive league victories. They sit third in the Premier League table, a full seven points clear of fifth, with 65 points from 19 wins, eight draws and five defeats.
Louis Van Gaal’s side moved four points clear of Manchester City in fourth with a commanding 4-2 victory in last weekend’s derby. They conceded early but swiftly worked their way back into the game and went in ahead at half-time thanks to goals from Ashley Young and Marouane Fellaini. Further strikes from Juan Mata (pictured) and Chris Smalling sealed the win.
It was the third time in four matches that United had comfortably beaten a fellow top-seven side – following wins at home to Tottenham Hotspur and away to Liverpool – and it was a victory that saw them take a firm grip on Champions League qualification. They still have Chelsea and Arsenal to play but fourth place, at the very least, is now theirs to lose.
It took Van Gaal two-thirds of the season to strike upon a consistent formula for success. He experimented with various formations and players before finally reaching a clear conclusion. But he has now found a system and style of play that is ideally suited to the players at his disposal, including some who had previously seemed lost causes.
Van Gaal can not use the suspended Jonny Evans, while Luke Shaw (hamstring), Michael Carrick (calf) and Robin Van Persie (lack of match fitness) are all doubtful through injury.
Chelsea v Man Utd Betting Tips Verdict
These sides drew 1-1 when they met at Old Trafford in October, while Chelsea were 3-1 victors at Stamford Bridge last season. The last six meetings between the sides in all competitions at Chelsea’s home have yielded three wins for Chelsea and two for United. The last six league encounters at all venues have seen two wins for Chelsea and one for United.
Chelsea can afford to lose three of their last seven matches of the campaign and still emerge as the Premier League champions. They are not under any great pressure coming into this match. Mourinho is not, however, a coach who ever likes to lose and it can be certain that his side will be well-organised and determined to pick up at least a point.
Man Utd are second only to Arsenal in the Premier League form table and travel to West London high on confidence after three recent victories over fellow top-four contenders. They employed a cagey approach in the match at Old Trafford and although they have been more impressive in attack in recent times, we expect another relatively tight match here.
Three of the last six league encounters between these sides have ended in draws and that is again the most likely outcome this weekend.
- Back the draw @ best odds of 5/2 with Paddy Power, William Hill, Betfred or Ladbrokes.
- Four of the last five matches between these sides in all competitions have seen two or fewer goals, as have seven of Chelsea’s last eight home matches in the Premier League. These two sides respectively possess the second and third-best defensive records in the division. Back under 2.5 goals @ 4/5 with Ladbrokes.