Manchester United v Chelsea – Old Trafford – 25 February
Chelsea are fortunate to be in the Top 4 of the Premier League table even after 2 shocking losses to minions Bournemouth and Watford. Their previous Monday night’s win over West Bromwich helped them to stay within that space. Eden Hazard with a brace of goals and excellent inter-play with the likes of Olivier Giroud and Victor Moses showed the kind of form that was missing from the previous two games. Wiilian, Pedro and Giroud were all back in the thick of things for the Blues following the West Bromwich game, beat Hull City 4-0 in a FA Cup 5th round tie. Chelsea now prepare for a much tougher test when they travel to Old Trafford to take on 2nd-placed Manchester United on Sunday evening. Coach Antonio Conte whose place at Stamford Bridge looked in some peril before these twin recent successes reverted to a 3-4-2-1 formation much in contrast to his favorite 3-5-2. That Conte was rested stalwarts like Eden Hazard, N’Golo Kane and Cesar Azpilicueta for the critical FA Cup clash against Hull, underlines the bench talent he has at his disposal and the confidence he has in them. Hazard, Kante and Azpilicueta should all be back to feature in the League defining match on Sunday. Giroud, the £18m Arsenal import, is playing the lone striker in Conte’s new stratagem and has found his opening goal for his new club in the game against Hull.
For Manchester United, Romelu Lukaku’s double strike in the Red Devils’ 2-0 FA Cup win over Huddersfield own will restore some of the confidence shaken up after the 0-1 Premier League loss to Newcastle a week ago. United have stumbled in the last three games having being beaten twice and are far from their usual self, this despite another Arsenal import Alexis Sanchez showing lot of creativity upfront. Paul Pogba’s dismal form has been of concern of late and there were no eyebrows raised when he was dropped from the last couple of games by Jose Mourinho. Juan Mata has been among the few who has really impressed for the Red Devils with 28 assists this season and will be expected to combine to good effect upfront with Lukaku and Sanchez. Mourinho is expected to adopt a 4-2-3-1 formation with Lukaku as the lone striker and the likes of Sanchez, Jesse Lingard and Mata playing behind him. The defensive quartet will comprise of the usual suspects Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo, Chris Smalling and Anthony Valencia.
Manchester United’s recent history against the visitors doesn’t inspire much confidence. The Red Devils have just a solitary win to show from their previous ten encounters since 2013 although they have surprisingly held out at Old Trafford thanks to a profusion of drawn games. One can expect a similar result on the 25th, although the bets are on a United win.
For Chelsea, a win is necessary to keep them in the Top 4, while for the hosts it woul be important in keeping them rooted to the 2nd spot.
Free Football Tips:
Chelsea to WIN, Best Odds 3.8 @ William Hill
Both Teams to Score: YES, Odds 1.95 @ William Hill