Mourinho and Chelsea sweating on Costa for Manchester United trip
Sometimes, it is when the chips are down that determine a team’s character, which gives you an idea of what they are made of, and whether they can win silverware.
Top of the league, and unbeaten Chelsea travel northwest to take on a wounded Manchester United side, who are likely to significantly raise their game against Jose Mourinho’s Blues.
The away outfit are 6/4 to keep their winning run going, however, are seriously depleted in the forward department. Doubts linger over the fitness of top scorer Diego Costa who is 11/2 to score first, while Loic Remy who pulled up with a groin problem in midweek straight after scoring. Eden Hazard stole the show against Maribor, and Coral are offering odds of 11/2 for the Belgian to score and Chelsea to win.
However, if neither player can recover, Mourinho will either have to utilise German attacker Andre Schurrle as the main frontman, promote youngster Dominic Solanke, or play Cesc Fabregas as a ‘false nine’. Didier Drogba is available, though, having played almost 90 minutes in Europe, his participation is likely to be as a substitute. Therefore he is 11/4 to net anytime, and knows the importance of playing the Red Devils, having netted the winner for Chelsea in the 2007 FA Cup final.
United, meanwhile, were largely criticised for their 2-2 draw against West Brom, and their fans were no doubt surprised to see at least one name on the scoresheet. Forgotten man Marouane Fellaini got the first equaliser for Louis van Gaal’s side at the Hawthorns, and is 11/2 to net again anytime. His physical presence could be important for the home team against the Blues, and it could be an interesting midfield match-up against Serbian Nemanja Matic.
At 15/8, Van Gaal’s men have a decent chance, and it could well be a match that the players relish. Former Blues player Juan Mata, could well play a part and is a 7/2 anytime scorer chance to come back and haunt Mourinho who offloaded him in January. Talisman Robin van Persie, meanwhile, is 15/8 to score anytime.
Last term, United held their visitors to a goalless draw at Old Trafford, and odds of a repeat scoreline are 11/1, though Chelsea haven’t failed to score in the Premier League this campaign, while the Red Devils have conceded in every match since mid-September when they beat QPR 4-0 at the Theatre of Dreams.
Van Gaal spoke ahead of the match, about how Mourinho has become special on his own and that he got where he is all by himself.
“He talks about me and Bobby Robson and I appreciate that, but you always do it by yourself,” said Van Gaal.
“He’s such a wonderful coach,” continued Van Gaal. “And to see that he’s been a champion in different countries is fantastic.
“He’s very special but he is very special for me because we’ve continued our relationship, which in the football world is not always normal. That’s nice.”
Mourinho, was equally complimentary, saying: “Everybody knows the respect I have for him [Van Gaal]. I never hide the respect, the relationship and the fact he was an important influence in my career.
“Don’t make me speak for half an hour about him. He knows what I feel about him.”