Stamford Bridge, London
18th April, 16:30 GMT
Chelsea host Manchester United for a mouth-watering clash on Saturday. A point or more for Chelsea will seal the fate of the Premier League this season. A win for Manchester United, on the other hand will make the title race wide open. Both the teams are in sublime form with Manchester United on a dream run of six-game winning streak. The fans can expect a brilliant game with two of the most tactical minds in world football clashing.
Team News And Tactical Brief
Chelsea will head into this crucial home tie against Manchester United without star striker Diego Costa upfront. Costa suffered a hamstring injury against Stoke City on April 4th and has been out of action since then. He was not a part of Chelseaa s squad in their 1-0 victory over Queens Park Rangers last weekend.
In the absence of the Spanish forward, Jose Mourinho would have depended upon French striker Loic Remy, but recent updates suggest that Remy may miss them game owing to a calf injury. Loic Remy in all probability will return in the match against Arsenal next weekend. Thus, all eyes will be on veteran and club legend Didier Drogba in todaya s encounter against the Red Devils.
Chelsea have a comfortable 10 points lead at the top, thus they would opt for a safety first policy in this big match. A point from this game will perfectly suit the blues who will further proceed in the points table.
The midfield is likely to remain same. Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic will be starting in the holding midfield positions, with Willian Oscar and Eden Hazard as attacking midfielders. Chelseaa s defenders have done a commendable job this season and Jose Mourinho will bank upon them to protect Chelseaa s backline.
Probable Line-up (4-2-3-1): Courtois; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Fabregas, Matic; Willian, Oscar, Hazard; Drogba
Manchester United will miss the services of several key players as they visit Stamford Bridge tonight. The likes of Daley Blind, Michael Carrick, Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones will all miss this crucial encounter against the league leaders Chelsea. Daley Blind has played a pivotal role this season in the teama s midfield. In his absence, club captain, Wayne Rooney will be forced to play from a deep midfield role. In all probability, Rooney will serve as a box to box midfielder. Also Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young, both of whom played wonderfully in previous few games, will again have to put in stellar performances as full backs.
In the absence of Phil Jones and Michael Carrick, Louis van Gaal will be heavily dependent on experienced centre back Chris Smalling and rookie defender Paddy McNair. The Dutch manager is likely to opt for a defensive shape, so that Manchester United against a potent Chelsea attack.
Only good news for Van Gaal is that, both of his star forwards Radamel Falcao and Robin van Persie are fit to start in this game. Most probably, Radamel Falcao will be preferred over the Dutch striker in the starting lineup. Also, an out of form Angel Di Maria will start. The underperforming attackers need to deliver in this big game for the club to put up a decent show at Stamford bridge.
Probable Line-up (4-1-4-1): De Gea; Valencia, McNair, Smalling, Young; Rooney; Mata, Herrera, Fellaini, Di Maria; Falcao
- Chelsea lost their last home match against Sunderland last year in April. They have remained unbeaten so far in this season.
- Jose Mourinhoa s men have remained unbeaten in 13 consecutive games so far in all competitions.
- Manchester United have won 6 consecutive games in the Premier League. A seventh one would bring them into the title race strongly.
Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
Eden Hazard is the most influential player in this Chelsea side. The attacking midfielder who operates from the left will be the biggest threat on the Manchester United defense. Antonio Valencia needs to play a stellar role in stopping the Belgian international from being dangerous. If any free space is offered to Hazard, the latter will create troubles for the away side.
David De Gea (Manchester United)
It is surprising that a goalkeeper will play the most crucial role in a game for a team like Manchester United. Louis van Gaala s team will be missing the services of several key players, most of whom are defenders. While, Chris Smalling and Paddy McNair are dependable defenders, the pressure is bound to fall on David De Gea. The Spanish goalkeeper needs to be at his best yet again to prevent Manchester United from embarrassment.
Chelsea 1 Manchester United 1
Chelsea have an upper hand in this home game against Manchester United. Except for Diego Costa and Loic Remy, the rest of the squad is fully fit to play in this game. Manchester United on the other hand will miss the services of several key players. Irrespective of having an advantage, Jose Mourinhoa s previous track record suggests that he would go slow in this game and will not mind a draw. They anyways have a convincing lead in the league table. In such favourable conditions, the manager will adopt a safety first policy. Louis van Gaal too will target a point from this away game and remain in the title hunt rather than losing the game.