Chelsea — Manchester United (Premier League)
There’s no way around it. Come Sunday afternoon all eyes will be on Stanford Bridge as “steady-as-you-go” Chelsea hosts “on-the-verge-of-a-nervous-break-down” Manchester United. Moyes squad is 7th place at the moment, 11 points behind Arsenal and 9 adrift their next opposition. For the Devils the drama is not the title race, is securing a spot that allows them to play Champions League next season. Are they up for it?
The next couple of weeks will be crucial for Mourinho’s side, they’ll have to host United and visit City. It’s hard to maintain a title challenge if you can’t beat David Moyes. As to the other Manchester club, Mourinho himself pointed them as the favourites to win the League. In his second coming to Stamford Bridge the Portuguese is changed. The Spanish experience made him treasure English football and clubs even more. He’s more discrete and less confrontational. Step by step he concentrated on rebuilding the team from the ground up, just like he likes it. The Blues are 3rd with 46 points, just two behind the top of the table. Chelsea’s defence is becoming the thick block you can depend upon. He has Cech and John Terry as his knights there, managing and rallying the troops, passing newcomers and youngsters their knowledge on what it means to wear the Chelsea jersey.
Bringing Nemanja Matic in will turn Chelsea’s back-block a fortress. The Serbian could become a sort of fulcrum point than allows Chelsea’s game to flow from the back to the front end.
Marco van Ginkel is a long-term casualty. Branislav Ivanovic and Frank Lampard will be on the sidelines once again. Ryan Bertrand is doubtful.
Probable line-up: Cech — Azpilicueta, Cahill, Terry, Cole — David Luíz, Ramires — Willian, Oscar, Hazard — Torres.
January has been absolutely disastrous for Manchester United so far. Three consecutive losses scoring one and conceding two. When you thought falling to the Spurs at Old Trafford wasn’t good hold and behold the Swans did it too. But the icing on the cake was yet to come. The defending Champions of the Premier League travel to Sunderland for the third-round of the FA Cup only to be kicked off by a squad that is a serious contender to relegation. Let’s just say that right now the nick-name does not suit Manchester United, Poor Devils is more likely. That’s why it was imperative for Manchester United to rise above their recent failings, facing their own fans, last Saturday. And they did. Even though they’ve stuttered at first Valencia’s opener released the team from their initial anxiety. It wasn’t overwhelming Man U of old but was an efficient squad doing what was expected of them. Can they do it again or will they go back to bad habits?
The Doctor prescribed Wayne Rooney some warm weather to accelerate his recovery and on he went to Egypt. Robbie van Persie is training with the squad for the first time in over a month. It’s probably too early to either of them to return just yet. Fellaini, Nani and Young miss out. And so will Fabio, due to suspension. Evra, Rooney, Ferdinand, Phil Jones and Evans could be in contention.
Probable line-up: De Gea — Smaling, Vidic, Evans, Evra — Cleverly, Carick — Valencia, Rooney, Januzaj — Welbeck
David Moyes attempted to beat Mourinho nine times before but was never successful. Chelsea’s home form this season has been stellar — 9 victories, 1 draw, 0 losses. City are the only ones with a better track-record. The Blues managed clean sheets in their last 3 games against United in all competitions and are unbeaten in the last 5. Mix that with the difficulties the Manchester side has been experiencing of late and you’ll have the Londoners as clear favourites. But no match is given in the Premier League and stranger things occurred.