WILL DYER (@w2Dyer) tackles Manchester United's second tough away game in the space of six days. Here he previews Jose Mourinho's return to Stamford Bridge as manager of the enemy. Can the Special One nick a result against his beloved old club?
Chelsea v Manchester United | Sunday 16:00 | Sky Sports 1
Jose Mourinho returns to Stamford Bridge for the first time since leaving last December. It will be an emotional afternoon for a man that is revered in West London.
Mou did what he does best earlier this week when taking the Red Devils to Anfield and completely frustrating a Liverpool side in fine form. United had the better of the first half and a fine defensive display and midfield performances from Ander Herrera and Marouane Fellaini earned them a 0-0 draw.
Mourinho really is the master of that. He has built a reputation in the Premier League which is underpinned by avoiding defeat when playing away at his nearest rivals for silverware. It’s incredibly tiresome and boring to watch but blimey is it effective.
Chelsea, without their involvement in European competition, have played just two games in the last 28 days. They’ve won both of those without conceding; against Leicester and Hull.
The manner of their victory against Leicester was pleasing for Blues supporters and kind of silenced the ridiculous rumours of Antonio Conte’s departure.
It’s still very early days in Conte’s reign as Chelsea manager. It will take a while for the side to adapt to his 3-4-3 formation but the signs of it succeeding are already there. Eden Hazard looks rejuvenated and Diego Costa continues to bury chances; he now has 39 goals in just 62 Premier League games.
The Red Devils won 4-1 in midweek against a decent Fenerbahce side. They are unbeaten in six now and I think they could be a threat to Chelsea so I certainly wouldn’t be backing the hosts to win at 5/4.
The highlight of the goal-scoring markets has to be Zlatan Ibrahimovic. You won’t see the big Swede at bigger than 2/1 to score anytime very often but I can’t see much goal-mouth action in this one so I’m prepared to let it go by.
In terms of how this game will pan out I think we can expect a tactical, pretty feisty, scrappy and stop-start kind of game.
Chelsea are unbeaten in a whopping 10 games against Manchester United, not many teams can boast that kind of record. However, both meetings last season finished level and you’d expect Mourinho’s knowledge of the Chelsea team to count for something here.
United had the better of both fixtures last season and it took a 91st minute goal from Costa to share the spoils in February. It was a really poor season for the Blues though; one of stagnation and frustration in the dressing room and they were beaten on their own patch five times – unheard of under the enigmatic Portuguese boss.
Seven of the last eight Premier League meetings between these teams have seen fewer than three goals. Under 2.5 goals is 9/11 with Marathon, it’s certainly a back-able price.
I’ll boost that further though by backing the draw and Under 2.5 goals at 31/10 with BetStars. It’s a bet that would have won in four of the last six ties between Chelsea and United and complements my prediction of a tactical affair nicely.
Chelsea v Manchester United – Draw and Under 2.5 goals (31/10 BetStars)