Written by Chadley Nagel for @Hollywoodbets.
Chelsea vs Manchester United | Sunday 19 January | Stamford Bridge | 18:00
Chelsea's excellent recent form will be tested by Manchester United when the two sides meet at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. United will be looking to upset Jose Mourinho’s men after getting a morale boosting 2-0 win over Swansea last weekend.
To Win (90mins)
Manchester United 37/10
As 2013 turned into 2014, the clocks started to go back at Stamford Bridge – to the last time Jose Mourinho was managing Chelsea. The early season 4-3 win at Sunderland and the 3-2 defeat at Stoke were not the kind of results anyone has come to associate with Mourinho. In his first season at Chelsea, they did not concede a goal between the 12th of December and the 5th of March. Saturday’s 2-0 win at Hull was Chelsea’s fifth clean sheet in six games. Chelsea are exactly where they were expected to be when the season began. Though they haven't been able to knock Arsenal off their table-topping perch, the Blues are within striking distance, just two points behind in third place. Powerful, talented and starting to keep clean sheets, they look dangerous. Showing distinct signs that Mourinho is starting to shape his team the way he wants them. The strikers are still spluttering, but the goals from Eden Hazard, Oscar and Frank Lampard are making up the shortfall. Mourinho’s men have little to be scared about going into this match, as they are the only side to have recorded more victories than defeats against United since the inception of the Premier League in 1992. The Blues are in good form having won their last five Premier League games and have the second best defence in the league, behind Arsenal.
After three straight losses and a hilariously poor first half, Manchester United recalled that they were the champions and rose to see off Swansea 2-0 on Saturday, making it their first win in 2014. Antonio Valencia and Danny Welbeck scored in the second half for United, who ended a three-match losing run and avenged last weekend's FA Cup defeat at the hands of the same Swansea side. With the victory, seventh-placed United moved onto 37 points—five behind Liverpool. As their position in the table would suggest, United have conceded more goals than the top four sides this season. But the good news for Moyes and United is that the team have actually improved defensively this season. This time last season, United had conceded 28 goals in twenty league games, but that number has dropped to 24. Yet critics will point to this reflecting a nod towards Moyes’ time at Everton, with United’s traditional attacking game being compromised in favour of a more defensive approach. It’s fair to say that life at Old Trafford under David Moyes thus far has been less than overwhelming; the gloom grows ever darker, with his hopes of claiming a piece of major domestic silverware in his maiden season very much unlikely. Wayne Rooney could return to the United squad as the club continue to manage his groin problem but Robin van Persie is still unavailable with a thigh injury.
VERDICT: Chelsea 8/10
David Moyes has yet to win against Jose Mourinho. Chelsea’s depth and quality is outstanding and far better than Manchester United’s. If United are without Wayne Rooney, their best chance of getting a result is to hold Chelsea at bay and work for a counterattack or set piece goal. In the last six meetings between the two clubs, Chelsea holds the advantage, with three wins to Manchester United’s one win. Chelsea are tipped for the victory.
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