They meet again, Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte, with the former looking to beat the latter as the two giants meet for the final time this season. But this time, it’s at Old Trafford.
The last two times Chelsea and Manchester United were in the league and FA Cup, with the blues beating the reds 4-0 and 1-0 respectively.
It’s now April and Chelsea are running away with the league, seven points ahead of Tottenham and a whopping 18 ahead of their opponents this weekend. They’re on course for a league and cup double, should the blues defeat Spurs at Wembley later this month.
Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 12 matches against United in all competitions, seven wins and five draws. The last time they lost to them was back in October of 2012 at Stamford Bridge. It was also Sir Alex Ferguson’s last season in charge of United, including their last league title. A win for the current league leaders will see them take a huge step towards lifting their fifth overall title since 2005, the third of this decade. It’ll also give Chelsea their first win at Old Trafford since May of 2013.
Speaking of Manchester United, they’re currently undefeated in their last 21 matches, but are fifth in the league. Usually an unbeaten streak such as that has a team firmly in first place with a comfortable points gap between them and their rivals. So what gives? Well, a closer look at their run sees them having drawn 10 of those 21 games, including nine of those 10 draws coming at home.
Overall, Mourinho’s men have 12 draws in the league, currently tied for most with Middlesborough, who are in 19th.
Matchup to Watch
Antonio Valencia (Manchester United) vs Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
Tactically, it’s as good as it gets, the best winger in the league faces off against arguably the best right back in the league. Hazard’s virtuoso performance against Bournemouth last week has his name at the top of the PFA Player of the Year discussion, alongside teammate N’Golo Kante. He can certainly deliver a similar showing against the Red Devils, and leave Mourinho to 0-3 against Conte.
But it won’t be easy, as the machine in Valencia will be a tough test for the Belgian. The Ecuadorian has been putting some impressive and consistent displays all season long, which has earned praise from Mourinho himself. Whoever wins this one-on-one duel will no doubt have a big say in who wins this game.
Prediction: Manchester 1-1 Chelsea
It’s simple, Mourinho will not want to lose against his former side again. He’ll do everything he can to make sure it won’t happen. If there’s a chance Manchester United can grab a late winner, they must take it. Their fight to make the top four is getting weaker by the week, leaving the Europa League as their only avenue to make the Champions League, should they win that competition.
For Chelsea, they’ll take a draw but they’d rather win to obviously ensure they’ve won the league as early as possible. They’re the favorites and will look to dominate proceedings and take the game to their opponents. Either way, this game will be fun to watch.