PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEW :
CHELSEA VS MANCHESTER UNITED – ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW
The Red Devils face a difficult task when they travel to west London for a showdown against their title rivals. Jose Mourinho returns to Chelsea on Sunday looking for his first win at Stamford Bridge since he ended his second spell at the club.
Chelsea were beaten 3-0 by Roma in last day’s Champions League group stage match. Their performance left the fans fuming and they will be hoping to bounce back with a good victory. Antonio Conte faces the heat as recent performances have gone sour and his relationship with billionaire club owner Roman Abramovic is not well anymore. A home win will give them a boost to their title defence but a loss will see them 12 points adrift of leaders Manchester City.
United , fresh from a 2-0 win over Benfica, will hope to continue the good run of form. They are currently 2nd in the table, 5 points behind City, and last thing they’d want is to drop points tomorrow. After a 1-2 setback against newcomers Huddersfield Town, they won back to back matches, which includes a closely fought victory over Tottenham. They sit 4 points above Chelsea and an away victory will help them keep up the pace for a place at the table summit. If they could come away from West London with a win and in-form Arsenal can avoid being beaten when they visit the Etihad on Sunday – United would move within touching distance of Pep Guardiola’s high-flying team.
TEAM NEWS : INJURIES AND SUSPENSIONS
For Chelsea , the biggest plus point is the return of their talismanic midfielder N’Golo Kante. The blues looked disjointed both in defence and midfield , and his inclusion after a 4 week layoff comes as a big boost for Conte’s men. It isnt sure whether he will start so Tiemoue Bakayoko and Cesc Fabregas are likely to pair up for the central midfield spots. Former Leicester City man Danny Drinkwater is also available for selection and may take part as well. Victor Moses is an absentee.
Talking of United , Antonio Valencia and Ander Herrera are set to be recalled after being rested on Tuesday night. But they remain without influential midfielders Marouane Fellaini , Michael Carrick and record signing Paul Pogba. Marcos Rojo is also sidelined and there are doubts over Jesse Lingard. Phil Jones is all set for a return.
PREDICTED STARTING LINE-UPS
CHELSEA FC : Courtois, Cahill, Azpilicueta, Luiz, Zappacosta, Alonso, Bakayoko, Fabregas, Hazard, Pedro, Morata.
MANCHESTER UNITED : De Gea, Valencia, Jones, Bailly, Blind, Matic, Herrera, Mkhitaryan, Lingard, Rashford, Lukaku.
With the stakes so high for both sides, Sunday’s encounter is sure to have plenty of intensity and, with the narrative of former heroes such as Juan Mata, Nemanja Matic and Mourinho returning to Stamford Bridge, there will be no shortage of incident.
KEY OPTA STATS :
1. Manchester United’s 2-0 victory in their last meeting with Chelsea ended a run of 12 games without a win against them in all competitions. They last won back-to-back meetings with the Blues in September 2011.
2. United have lost more Premier League games (17) and conceded more Premier League goals (66) against Chelsea than they have against any other side in the competition.
3. Antonio Conte’s side have already lost as many home Premier League games this season as they did in 2016-17 overall (2).
4. Under Mourinho, United have lost five of their eight away Premier League games immediately after playing in Europe (W3), including their last three against Arsenal and Spurs in May and Huddersfield last month
5. Antonio Conte has won 112 points as Chelsea manager in his 48 Premier League games in charge, 11 points fewer than Jose Mourinho had at this point of his Chelsea managerial career (123). Mourinho lost just one of his first 48 Premier League games in charge of the club (W38 D9 L1), but Conte has already lost eight times (W36 D4 L8).
6. Twenty-one per cent of the total Premier League goals scored in the final 10 minutes of games this season (10/47) have been netted by Manchester United.
7. Manchester United substitutes have scored seven goals and assisted four more (both league-highs) this season so far – Anthony Martial has provided six of these 11 substitute goal involvements (four goals, two assists); more than any other player.
8. Romelu Lukaku has scored 15 goals in 59 Premier League games against ‘big six’ opposition, averaging a goal every 295 minutes. His mins per goal ratio against non ‘big six’ opponents is 137 (77 goals in 137 apps).
9. No goalkeeper has kept as many clean sheets in the ‘big five’ European leagues since the start of 2016-17 than Manchester United’s David de Gea (22).