Friday 5 February 2016

Match preview: Chelsea v United

United travel to Chelsea looking for three successive wins to keep up the pressure on the top four but face a tough test against the much-improved champions.

The Stamford Bridge side still find themselves in mid-table but have picked up of late and are unbeaten under charismatic coach Guus Hiddink, whom took over as caretaker in December after Jose Mourinho's sacking.

The clashes of these two giants of English football used to be unmissable title tussles, but times they are a-changing and this one comes with both sides sitting outside the top four but on an upward surge as the season enters the final run-in.

Phil Jones is closer to a return after training with the team on Friday but Bastian Schweinsteiger is still out with a knee injury.
Marcos Rojo is progressing well but is not ready to return, while Antonio Valencia and Luke Shaw have also stepped up their recoveries. 

Louis van Gaal said he believes that United's title chances- whilst slim- aren't over and victory over Chelsea can put us back in the picture.

He said:

"I feel that if we beat Chelsea, a tough opponent, our league challenge shall start again and we have to believe that- it is important.
"The competition is not finished, it is not finished for Manchester United and not for other teams also.
"It is always better when you win and certainly when you win two times in a row with very good performances, three goals against Derby and Stoke and a clean sheet also. 
"They were big victories in the FA Cup and the league so that shall give a big boost to the players and we have do that again against Chelsea.
"They don't lose so much with Guus Hiddink so it shall be difficult but we have trained well."

Champions Chelsea have had a torrid time this term, languishing in the bottom half for most of the season after cantering to the title in 2014/15, but Diego Costa looks back to somewhere near his best while Cesc Fabregas has also re-found his form.

Eden Hazard scored his first goal of the season in the Blues FA Cup win at MK Dons last weekend, with Willian and Oscar also impressive, the two midfield schemers having been Chelsea's standout performers in an otherwise below par campaign.

Hiddink's men were held to a goalless draw at Watford on Wednesday- just as they were at Old Trafford in December- and are still searching for back-to-back league wins this season.

That said, Stamford Bridge is never an easy place to go and United's recent record there is poor so another big performance is needed if we are to come away with a result on Sunday. 

Form guide: Chelsea W D D W W D United W D W L W W
Match odds: Chelsea 23/20 Draw 12/5 United 3/1 

Referee: Michael Oliver

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