Friday, November 24, 2017

Prediction: Chelsea vs Manchester United

Verdict: Under 2.5 goals

Best Odds: 8/13

Bookmaker: Bet365

On Sunday afternoon, second place Manchester United will be making the journey to Stamford Bridge as they face a Chelsea side who are coming off the back of a 3-0 loss away in Rome earlier in this week. Both Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte will be desperate to cut the deficit on league leaders Manchester City.

Chelsea

Earlier this week, Blues manager Antonio Conte admitted that his Chelsea side are currently struggling to find a good run of form. Entering Sunday afternoon’s game, the Italian tactician will be hoping his defending champions are able to put midweeks Champions League disappointment behind them, last time out, Chelsea were completely outclassed away in Rome and came away with a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Roma.

Sat fourth in the Premier League table, Chelsea are already chasing a nine-point deficit behind league leaders Manchester City. Uneaten in their past three domestic appearances, Conte’s  side will be aiming to push on and mount a serious defense of their Premier League crown. Last season, Chelsea’s form at Stamford Bridge was pivotal to their title charge, however, the Blues have struggled when playing in South London. Already loosing at home to Manchester City and Burnley this year, Chelsea have already equaled their total losses at Stamford Bridge for the whole of last season.

Defensively, Chelsea have also looked a shell of their former selves, in their previous 18 games in all competitions, the Blues have only managed to keep just five clean sheets along the way. One good omen for Chelsea though, the South London club do have a stellar record against United. In the last 15 times the two sides have met in the Premier League, Chelsea have only come away on the losing end just once, Antonio Conte will be desperate to carry on his record come Sunday afternoon.

Team News

After missing the past six games with a hamstring injury he picked up away on international duty, French international and PFA player of the year N’Golo Kante is ready to make his return. Kante could be partnered by Danny Drinkwater who is still waiting to make his first Premier League start following his move from Leicester this summer.

While Chelsea captain Gary Cahill is set to start after being taken off early against Roma, Victor Moses will be sidelined with a hamstring injury.

Manchester United

For United’s fans, they will be interested to see just how Jose Mourinho lays out his Manchester United side. After traveling away to Anfield last month and setting up incredibly defensively, United’s boss received allot of criticism, despite leaving Merseyside with a point. After dispatching of Benfica 2-0 in midweek, the Reds are yet to drop a single point in the Champions League, however, they now sit five points adrift of arch-rivals Manchester City in the Premier League.

United’s away form will undoubtedly be of a concern to their Portuguese boss, the red half of Manchester have already dropped points on three separate occasions when traveling away from Old Trafford this year, including a 2-1 defeat at the hands of newly promoted Huddersfield last time Mourinho’s men were on the road.

It isn’t quite as doom and gloom as it sounds for United though, United currently sit second in the league on 23 points, that is the Reds highest tally after 10 games of a Premier League season, that is their best start to the campaign since winning their last title in 2013.

If United want to leave Stamford Bridge with all three points, Mourinho is going to have to hope that his side can refind their finishing touch. Despite scoring 22 goals in their opening seven games, United have only managed to find the back just seven times in their last six and top scorer Romelu Lukaku hasn’t scored in his last six.

Team News

After picking up a back problem during their midweek victory over Benfica, United will be unable to call upon versatile midfielder Jesse Lingard. Jose Mourinho will be able to call upon wing-backs Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young, both are set to be recalled to United’s starting XI after being rested earlier this week.

Long-term injury absentees Michael Carrick, Marouane Fellaini, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo still remained sidelined.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Chelsea have only lost one in their last 15 Premier League matches against Manchester United
  • The Blues have kept five clean sheets in 18 fixtures in all competitions
  • Chelsea could lose a top-flight home match against Manchester City and Manchester United in the same season for the first time since 1978-79
  • If Manchester United avoid defeat they will become the first club to reach 900 Premier League away points
  • David de Gea’s 22 clean sheets since the start of 2016-17 is the best record of any goalkeeper in the top five European leagues

Conclusion

Given Manchester United’s tendance to set up negatively for these big games, coupled with Chelsea entering the match with a lack of confidence, it appears to be a game were goals will be a rare commodity. In the last six matchup’s between the two sides, five of those games have finished with under three goals, a bet of under 2.5 goals here seems like the most predictable result.

Verdict: Under 2.5 goals

Best Odds: 8/13

Bookmaker: Bet365

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Dunstan


Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan

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