All the omens point to a Chelsea win to nil against Man Utd
England coach and TV pundit Gary Neville can be forgiven for sticking up for the club that made his name, but even their former captain couldn’t come up with a compelling case to back Manchester United to beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
In a radio interview, Neville conceded that his beloved Red Devils come into this game in unrecognisably bad form, having lost three of their last four matches and six in the Premier League already this term, but searched his noggin for a reason to bet on United at 4/1 to down the Blues.
Alas, all the Neviller could contribute to the debate was his team’s capacity to bring opponents crashing down to earth over the years, such as in their 2-0 win over Arsenal’s invincibles in 2004 or when they became the first Premier League team to beat then champions Chelsea in November of the following campaign.
It was a valiant effort by the 38-year-old, but the weight of evidence in favour of a victory for Jose Mourinho’s Blues – an eventuality that can be backed at 8/11 odds – is too great to ignore.
The aforementioned Old Trafford reverse stands alone as the only time Chelsea have been beaten over 90 minutes against United, or an Everton side managed by current Red Devils chief David Moyes, in 20 games under the Portuguese.
Furthermore, under Sir Alex Ferguson the visitors didn’t even manage to score a goal in four trips to west London during the Special One’s tenure and that was a side replete with the attacking talent of Cristiano Ronaldo, Paul Scholes, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Wayne Rooney, amongst others.
Rooney remains, but he will miss out for the fourth match in a row through injury, while strike partner and two-time Premier League top goalscorer Robin van Persie hasn’t played since the middle of December due to a groin strain.
United may have got on the scoresheet in all nine games since, but now they face a mean-looking Chelsea defence that’s kept five clean sheets in their last six outings.
Moyes needs a victory to strengthen his precarious position, but Mourinho’s men can go back to within two points of league-leaders Arsenal by beating the champions at home and they are taken to do so whilst shutting United out at 9/5 in the win to nil market.
It’s difficult to look beyond Eden Hazard at 7/1 for first scorer, as the Belgian wizard has broken the deadlock in three of the Blues’ last four top-flight fixtures.
Hazard’s nine strikes mean he’s netted 50 per cent more in the league for Chelsea this season than the next highest scorer in their squad – fellow midfielder Oscar.
Forwards Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto’o and Demba Ba are all failing to impress with their finishing abilities, so there’s little reason to believe their 23-year-old teammate won’t show them the way to goal again here.