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Prediction: Chelsea vs Manchester United

18th January 2014

Having been snubbed by Sir Alex Ferguson for the Old Trafford job, there is nothing Jose Mourinho will enjoy more than to record a victory over David Moyes’ charges on Sunday afternoon. And Chelsea’s job have been made a lot easier following the news that neither Wayne Rooney nor Robin van Persie will be featuring at Stamford Bridge, although the Blues will still have to work hard if they are to live up to the billing.

Even if Chelsea remain just two points off the top of the standings, the reality is the Blues have yet to turn on the style this season. Jose Mourinho’s men have not exactly impressed in the first part of the season, although, in all fairness, they have shown a great deal of improvement during the hectic festive schedule. But, having picked up so many points while not exactly playing to their potential, they would surely become the number one candidates for the title if they manage to reach top form in the near future. And while the Special One does not plan to start new signing Nemanja Matic against Manchester United, the Serbian midfielder could play a key role in Chelsea’s assault on the Premiership trophy, with the 25-year-old having developed into a cracking player during his time at Estadio da Luz. Having already spent a couple of years at the club, he will not need time to adapt to the new surroundings and I am positive all Chelsea fans will be delighted to see him take over from John Obi Mikel in the centre of the park. Meanwhile, with Frank Lampard likely to return against the Red Devils, Mourinho will have plenty of options in midfield, but it is the again rock-solid defence that kept five clean sheets in last six games that could prove to be decisive as the Blues should be able to score a couple past United’s shaky back line.

Manchester United appear to be effectively out of the title chase midway through the league campaign, but it hasn’t been all doom and gloom for David Moyes’ side. The Scottish manager is clearly still struggling to adapt to the demands of his new job, but the most important thing the club chiefs are still behind him. There are no doubts this squad need to undergo a major rebuilding in the summer if the Red Devils are to remain one of England’s top sides, and it looks the best they can do this term is achieve a top 4 finish. Even that could prove to be an uphill task unless key forwards Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie do not return into action in the coming weeks, and this is evidently not the same team without them. And while RVP’s goals are sorely missed, the absence of Rooney probably has even bigger effect on the squad, as he is by far team’s most creative player, who also happens to score goals on regular basis. Michael Carrick’s return has provided a much needed boost, but there is only so much the England international can do on his own. And despite the Red Devils producing a very good performance against Swansea last time out, I seriously doubt they can come even close to matching in-form Chelsea with both Rooney and RVP missing.

Conclusion

Things have changed a great deal since Manchester United completely outplayed Chelsea in the goalless draw back in August, with the Blues seriously raising their form and Red Devils staying without two key attackers. With that in mind, Jose Mourinho’s men should enjoy a comfortable win on Sunday.

Verdict: Home win Chelsea (1)

Best Odds: 3/4

Bookmaker: William Hill

Sat 18 January, 2014
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