Thursday 22 March 2018

Why Chelsea should fear big-game masters Manchester United

Manchester United head into Saturday's match against Chelsea buoyed by their excellent record in the big games so far this season.

Louis van Gaal's team lead the 'mini-league' between the Premier League's top five clubs by four points, with this weekend's opponents behind them in second place.

Despite often looking laboured against the division's so-called weaker teams, United have beaten Arsenal, Liverpool (twice) and Manchester City this season to propel themselves into third position in the Premier League.

Chelsea themselves have also performed well in the big games, with nine points from five games, including wins against Arsenal and Liverpool.

The league leaders are actually unbeaten in matches against the top five this term, including the 1-1 draw with United at Old Trafford in October.

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Current form

United have been irresistible in recent weeks, winning their last six matches, while Chelsea have picked up four wins and two draws.

The Blues though have looked laboured in recent weeks, and have been handed wins in their last three matches by goalkeeping howlers.

Key match details

Chelsea v Manchester United

Saturday April 17, 17.30 K.O, Stamford Bridge

Sky Sports 1

Chelsea: 11/10

United: 3/1

Draw: 5/2

Injuries and suspensions

Chelsea will still be without the hamstrung Diego Costa, but Loic Remy could recover from the calf injury that ruled him out of Sunday's win at QPR.

John Obi Mikel is still recovering from a knee problem, and is a doubt.

Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones and Michael Carrick, who limped off in the 4-2 win against Manchester City, are all expected to be unavailable, but Luke Shaw and Robin van Persie are in contention for returns to the side.

Jonny Evans is still serving his six-match suspension for spitting at Papiss Cisse, and won't be available until the trip to Everton on April 26.

Recent meetings

The sides drew 1-1 in earlier in the season, when Robin van Persie's stoppage-time equaliser cancelled out Didier Drogba's opener.

Last year, Chelsea won the corresponding fixture 3-1 courtesy of a Samuel Eto'o hat-trick, and the match at Old Trafford finished in a drab 0-0 stalemate.

There's nothing to choose between the side from their last eight league meetings, with three wins apiece and two draws.

What the match means

A Chelsea win moves them 10 points clear of Arsenal and 11 of United, which would all but wrap up the title with just six matches left to play.

A draw still leaves Chelsea in a handsome position to win the title, while a United win would see them leapfrog Arsenal into second and cut Chelsea's lead to five points (though the Blues will have a played a game less).

Read more: David De Gea has said "yes" to Real Madrid

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