We predict goals when Manchester United host league leaders Chelsea at Old Trafford on Sunday (16:00 BST, live on Sky Sports).
Man Utd have enjoyed a mixed start to the new season and are sixth in the Premier League table, with 12 points from three wins, three draws and two defeats. They twice came from behind to secure a 2-2 draw away to West Brom on Monday.
Louis Van Gaal’s side conceded early at the Hawthorns and struggled to create chances in a poor first-half performance from which Angel Di Maria (pictured) was the only player to come away with any credit. They equalised through substitute Marouane Fellaini early in the second half and, after conceding again, rescued a point when Daley Blind produced a precise finish late on.
It was a far from convincing performance from Man Utd, who despite enjoying more possession than their hosts did not create that many clear-cut opportunities. Robin Van Persie failed to make the most of Di Maria’s excellent deliveries from the left, while Adnan Januzaj, Ander Herrera and Juan Mata all had an evening to forget.
Van Gaal jettisoned the two-striker systems he has otherwise used this season in favour of employing Van Persie as a lone frontman. The change had little effect on his side’s defensive stability. The movement of West Brom’s forwards caused them numerous problems, while there were also basic errors, such as Rafael playing Saido Berahino onside for West Brom’s second.
Van Gaal will definitely be without the suspended Wayne Rooney, while he has injury doubts over Antonio Valencia (hamstring), Johnny Evans (ankle) and Patrick McNair (hamstring). Di Maria (thigh) and Herrera (rib) are both expected to take part despite suffering knocks in the draw with West Brom.
Chelsea have begun the new season in fine form. They are undefeated in all competitions and head the Premier League table, with 22 points from seven wins, one draw and no defeats. They come into this match on the back a 6-0 home win over Maribor in midweek.
It was a routine victory for the Blues, who barely had to break sweat to see off their visitors. First-half goals from Loic Remy, Didier Drogba and John Terry were added to by an own goal and a double from Eden Hazard in the second period. A win in Slovenia in the return match would put Chelsea within touching distance of the Champions League knockout rounds.
Jose Mourinho’s side had the best defensive record in the Premier League last season, but trailed both Man City and Liverpool by some distance on goals scored. They have, though, been far more prolific this season, scoring in each and every one of their 12 matches in all competitions. They scored two or more goals in nine of those fixtures.
The summer arrival of Cesc Fabregas has played a big role in improving Chelsea’s offensive capabilities. The former Arsenal man has already laid on a league joint-high seven assists and had been involved in a league-high 49 attacking moves that ended with a shot at goal prior to last set of fixtures. He will again be key in this match.
Mourinho will definitely be without the suspended Cesar Azpilicueta for the trip to Old Trafford, while he has injury doubts over Diego Costa (thigh/hamstring), Loic Remy (muscle) and Ramires (knee). Andre Schurrle is expected to return to the squad after recovering from the bug he picked up on international duty with Germany.
Man Utd v Chelsea Betting Tips
Last season’s equivalent fixture ended in a dull 0-0 draw, while Chelsea were 3-1 winners in the reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge. Recent results at Old Trafford have been evenly distributed, with two wins apiece and one draw in the last five league meetings. At all venues, Chelsea have won five and United three of their last 10 meetings in all competitions.
Man Utd have scored two or more goals in each of their last five Premier League fixtures and although they were not particularly impressive in attack against West Brom, will fancy their chances of causing the Chelsea defence some problems. The issue is likely to be their own defending, which has frequently bordered on hapless so far this season.
Van Gaal’s side are leaving far too much space at the back and Chelsea are very much capable of taking advantage, even with Costa likely to be absent. The Blues come into the match on the back of a six-match winning streak in all competitions and will be fairly confident of extending that run to seven on Sunday.
- Back Chelsea to win @ biggest odds of 8/5 with William Hill.
- We expect this to be a much more open and entertaining encounter that last season’s equivalent fixture. Each of Man Utd’s last five league matches have featured three or more goals, as have five of Chelsea’s eight matches so far this season. Back over 2.5 goals in the ‘total goals’ market @ best betting odds of 10/11 with Coral.