Premier League leaders Chelsea can make a giant step towards winning the coveted title by defeating Manchester United at Stamford Bridge, but that is not going to be an easy task. The Red Devils appear to be playing their best football since Sir Alex Ferguson left and they could keep the slim title hopes alive by winning in London.
Even if many believed that the Blues had virtually secured the league title few weeks back, things could have been different had Jose Mourinho’s side not recorded hard-fought wins over Hull, Stoke and QPR. Despite not playing to their potential, Chelsea showed a great deal of character to claim maximum points in each of these games and they are now much closer to their pre-season objective. The Blues sit seven points clear with a game in hand on both Manchester United and Arsenal, and the interesting thing is they will be locking horns with the title rivals in the next two matches. Chelsea first play host to red-hot Manchester United, who have been in scintillating form of late, and everything suggests Jose Mourinho will be looking to frustrate the opposition with a cautious tactics despite playing at Stamford Bridge. With Diego Costa missing, the Portuguese manager is well aware his side are no longer too dangerous up front, especially if the opposition defenders find a way to keep Eden Hazard quiet. Seeing as how Loic Remi is doubtful with a calf injury, chances are that 37-year-old Didier Drogba will again be deployed as a lone striker.
Louis van Gaal appears to have finally succeeded in doing what he was brought to do, given that Manchester United are back to being a real force to be reckoned with in England, with the team playing with a great deal of confidence at the moment. The reality is it took the Dutch coach longer than planned to sort out his squad, and had things fallen into place a bit sooner, the Red Devils would probably be able to mount a serious title challenge now. Manchester United climbed to third in the standings on the back of a six-match winning run, but having won only one of last ten Premiership fixtures at Stamford Bridge, they clearly face a tough task against rock-solid Chelsea. It remains to be seen how Louis van Gaal will approach this game, but with his high pressing tactics producing excellent results against Spurs, Liverpool and City, the manager may decide to attack the Blues from the off and try to revive their title hopes. Influential midfielder Michael Carrick is expected to shake off a minor knock, while Robin van Persie and Luke Shaw both return and could play some part at Stamford Bridge, even if they are highly unlikely to start.
Chelsea are clearly struggling without Diego Costa and with Cesc Fabregas yet to rediscover his form, the Blues might not be able to impose their game on Manchester United. The Red Devils have been thoroughly impressive of late and even the Premier League leaders are likely to face problems against their expertly assembled five-man midfield.
Verdict: Double chance on Manchester United
Best Odds: 4/5
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