Match Preview: Manchester United vs Chelsea

Updated: April 15, 2017
Manchester United vs Chelsea

Manchester United vs Chelsea – Pride is at stake at the Old Trafford on 16th April, Sunday when Manchester United host the English Premier League leaders Chelsea in the most anticipated match of the weekend. Antonio Conte’s men need only five more wins to clinch the Premier League title but with Tottenham breathing down their neck, every point counts.

Manchester United boast of a twenty-one game unbeaten record in the Premier League, ten of which ended in draws. However, both of Jose Mourinho’s side’s meetings with the Portuguese’s former club have ended in losses – the reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge back in October being a particularly humiliating one for Mourinho.

The Red Devils are trailing Chelsea by eighteen points and with the race for “top four” set to go down to the wire, Manchester United are more likely to qualify for next season’s UEFA Champions League by winning the Europa League this season. A 1-1 draw at Anderlecht in the midweek has put Mourinho in a precarious position, for the Portuguese would love to score a victory over his former club, but at the same time must preserve his strongest eleven for the second leg of the UEFA Europa League quarter-final tie.

“They [Chelsea] have a great team and everybody knows that. When you’re playing in the Premier League, you have to have a bit of luck as well but you create the luck. They’ve done good this season.”

– Paul Pogba, Manchester United.

Manchester United will be without the injured Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Juan Mata – the Spaniard being a costly miss during this intensive fixture schedule. Wayne Rooney will face a late fitness test but is unlikely to start tomorrow. Chelsea, meanwhile, has a completely healthy and suspension-free squad to choose from. Fatigue will play a significant role, especially with Mourinho’s Manchester United side prone to missing goalscoring chances at an alarming rate.

Chelsea’s strengths obviously lie in their quick movement of the ball and hinges on the duo of Eden Hazard and Willian opening up space in front of the opposition box. Manchester United’s defensive organization, however, has been absolutely top-notch this season, unlike the last few seasons, when they struggled to protect David de Gea.

Eden Hazard will be Chelsea’s primary attacking threat, especially with the lack of goals from the frontman Diego Costa. The Belgian has been in spectacular form in the last few games and Manchester United’s chances of keeping a clean sheet depends on whether they are able to stall the PFA Player of the Year contender.

At the back, Chelsea have shown vulnerability whenever the three-man defence has been stretched (as the goals conceded against Burnley and Crystal Palace showed). Should Marcus Rashford or Anthony Martial (Mourinho’s likely choices on the left flank) manage to attack the space on either side of David Luiz, isolating him in the process, Chelsea could very well struggle.

Manchester United’s chance conversion is at an all-time low this season and the hosts are unlikely to score more than two goals, but they will be motivated to put up an inspiring performance in front of the home crowd, especially considering how fierce the rivalry has between the two managers in spite of the brief amount of time Conte has been in England.

Chelsea will do well to avoid a loss tomorrow, but anything but a win could allow Spurs in with ‘a foot in the door’ for the Premier League title.

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