Saturday, 15 April 2017

Match preview: United v Chelsea

Jose Mourinho faces his old club for the third time this season with the west London side five wins away from the title.

Antonio Conte has overseen a mightily impressive transformation of the champions-elect since he took charge in the summer, but United have a score to settle with the in-form visitors, who have beaten us twice already this term.

Following the 4-0 horror show in the league in October, United were left with a sense of injustice as Chelsea sealed an FA Cup semi final spot with a controversial 1-0 over us last month.

N'golo Kante's brilliant strike settled a stormy contest that saw Ander Herrera harshly sent off to end the Reds hopes. 

That continued the Blues hoodoo over us-  we've now not beaten them for 13 matches, a run stretching back to  October 2012 when Fergie was in charge (a 3-2 win at The Bridge against nine men). 

This fixture comes at a bad time for United with injuries mounting up and sandwiched between the two legs of our Europa League quarter final with Anderlecht.

That tie is delicately poised at 1-1 with the second leg to come on Thursday, with this our fifth outing in 15 days. 

Chelsea have no such issues - without the rigours of European football they are fresher than us and have a fully fit squad at their disposal ahead of the trip to Old Trafford. 

The remarkable record of no major injury problems has undoubtedly played a part in their seemingly unstoppable march to the title, with Conte able to rely on the same core of players week in week out. 

David de Gea is expected to start having missed the last two matches but Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Juan Mata are all out for the season.
Wayne Rooney could feature and Ashley Young is also available again.

United boss Jose played down the sentimental aspect of the clash, and said:

"For me it is just another opponent and another game.
"It is not emotional for me, it is a game and I prefer to focus on my team and what we need to do to win. 
"It's not for no reason that they are top of the league, it is not just because they are fresh and have no injuries.
"It is because they have individual quality and collective quality and a certain style of play.
"They stick to it, and do it very well so they are a very good side, a strong team."

Form guide: United W W D D W D Chelsea W W W W W W 
Match odds: United 9/5 Draw 9/3 Chelsea 10/4 
Referee: Bobby Madley (Yorkshire)








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