Manchester United v Chelsea Preview

English Premier League | Sunday 26 October | Old Trafford | 18:00




League leaders Chelsea travel to Old Trafford on Sunday to take on Manchester United in a mouth-watering showdown. These sides shared the spoils last time they met at Old Trafford in a 0-0 bore draw but with the attacking talent on show it has all the makings of an entertaining match that will leave you at the edge of your seat. 

To Win (90mins)
Man Utd 18/10
Draw 23/10
Chelsea 15/10

MANCHESTER UNITED


Daley Blind's late second half strike helped a lacklustre Manchester United salvage a 2-2 draw against West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns on Monday. A win would have sent United into the top four, but instead the Red Devils remain in sixth place on 12 points. Victory over West Brom would have also given United some momentum ahead of their first real tests of this season. Instead, their defensive problems were exposed again. 

Louis Van Gaal hasn't been allowed to settle into any kind of pattern this season. He picked Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo at the back against West Brom, his sixth different combination at centre-half already this season. The Dutchman also experimented with a new formation, with Robin van Persie as a lone striker, Angel Di Maria and Adnan Januzaj on the wings with Juan Mata and Ander Herrera in front of holding midfielder Blind. For the first three Premier League games, Van Gaal used a back three. 

For the next four he used a diamond midfield. Much of the inconsistency has been forced upon him by injuries and suspensions. But it has bred an inconsistency in performances and results. 

All eyes will be on Mata this match as he faces his former side for the first time since completing his move to Manchester United in January. The highly-rated Spanish international won Chelsea's 'Player of the Year' award twice in succession, but made just eleven Premier League appearances under Jose Mourinho before being deemed surplus to requirements. Mata will be out to impress and prove that Mourinho made a mistake by letting him go. 

When United have turned on the style this season, Di Maria has usually been at the centre of it. He's been so good that he's upstaged Van Persie, Radamel Falcao, Wayne Rooney and Mata. He's also finding the back of the net, scoring three goals in his first six games. Van Gaal has set the team up to give Di Maria licence to do what he wants in United's midfield. And if he's in the mood on Sunday, he'll be very difficult for Chelsea to stop. Rooney will remain sidelined as he serves his final match of a three game suspension. 


CHELSEA

Chelsea maintained their five-point lead at the top of the Premier League last weekend with a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace. Still unbeaten this season with just two points dropped in the Premier League, Jose Mourinho's Chelsea are looking formidable. 

For many, they're the favourites to win the title, with some even predicting the Blues could go the entire league campaign undefeated, emulating Arsenal's "Invincibles" of 2003/04. That would be a big ask, even of this Chelsea team, but it's a prediction that comes with it’s merits. 

Chelsea look redoubtable right now, and with strength in depth across every position, there aren't many sides who could get the better of them. A trip to Manchester United will come as a stern challenge but Mourinho thrives on the big games and will relish the chance to get a victory over Van Gaal, his old pal who mentored him at Barcelona. 

The Blues are unbeaten against United in their last six matches, winning three times and will be hoping to open the gap to them and their fellow title contenders. A major reason for the Blues’ assurance and effectiveness this season has been their midfield. 

The pivot in front of the back four of Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas has come together perfectly well for Mourinho, and has been the sole cause for Chelsea dominating the pace of most of their games this season. 

While Matic is one of the calmest midfielders in the league when it comes to tackling, intercepting and short-passing, Fabregas adds a vital quality that the side from last season lacked: superlative vision. The Spaniard’s hard work and defensive discipline, which he has now added to his game under Mourinho, coupled with his perpetual eye for a defence-splitting pass, makes him one of the most dangerous midfielders in the league. 

Chelsea fear Diego Costa will miss the clash after the Spain striker was finally forced to rest the troublesome hamstring that has dogged him all season last weekend. The news would be a major boost to United given that Costa has scored in almost all of Chelsea’s Premier League games so far this season and, given the insecurity shown in United’s defence, Costa’s absence would be a huge loss for The Blues. 

Cesar Azpilicueta will serve his first of a three match suspension after seeing red for a reckless challenge on Eagles captain Mile Jedinak and will be replaced by the more than capable Filipe Luis. 

Betting Verdict: CHELSEA 15/10
Chelsea are favourites at 15/10 while Manchester United are priced up at 18/10. The Blues are flying high at the top of the Premier League table after an unbeaten start to the season that has seen them win seven of their eight matches. The Blues look a different class to their opponents and are playing fluent, attractive football, killing off teams with ease. Costa is a doubt but I expect to see his name on the team sheet no matter what Mourinho may say but even if Costa doesn’t make it, Loic Remy is an able deputy who can do the business. United's defence has looked vulnerable this season, and Chelsea’s deadly attack should make easy pickings of them. Back The Special One’s boys to paint the town blue.

Written by Chadley Nagel for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now! 

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