Confidence within David Moyes’ camp will be high after their opening game – a resounding 4-1 victory at Swansea. The goals were shared between their two strikers, Danny Welbeck and who else but Robin Van Persie, who continues from the previous season in the same vein.
On the opening day of the season, Chelsea faced Hull and after an exquisite first 30 minutes of football, Chelsea showed why they are being considered title contenders/favourites. That performance was slick, quick and utterly eye-catching. The movement and interchanging between Hazard, Oscar and De Bruyne was extremely difficult for Hull to defend against. Jose Mourinho will be hoping that his team can play with such intelligence and pace on Monday night as it will clearly lead to multiple opportunities to score.
David Moyes will have been happy to have Ferdinand and Vidic back in the centre of defence for his opening game. United looked assured throughout and their experience and class will be vital to organise against and nullify Chelsea’s flair. At the end of last season Chelsea played United at Old Trafford with Rafa Benitez in charge of the Blues and Sir Alex Ferguson for United. Chelsea managed a 1-0 victory but this was expected at the time after United had already won their 20th league title.
Expect this game between the two rivals to be played at a higher tempo, with both teams trying to win, especially as the two teams will arrive at Old Trafford with new managers. The expectations will be high and both managers will want to get an early victory over the other, but it will also be important to the two that they don’t leave empty-handed.
Jose Mourinho already has the experience of games of such intensity from his first spell at Chelsea but also from his jobs with his other top European teams. David Moyes, on the other hand, is in a new position; whilst at Everton, the pressure and expectation would never be as large as it is at United. Especially as he is the man that has taken over from Sir Alex Ferguson.
After winning the golden boot last season and continuing with that form this season Robin Van Persie is without doubt the key man. He scored two stunning goals in the opening fixture and the confidence will be flowing. Chelsea, however, do not have a striker who induces such fear into the opponents. Many Chelsea fans will be hoping for a start for young striker Romelu Lukaku, who during his loan spell last season managed to score three goals against United at Old Trafford. His recent performance against Aston Villa after coming on as a substitute definitely impressed.
Oscar has also had an impressive start to his campaign under Mourinho which has seen him being primarily been used as the number 10. He scored in the opening game after a perfectly weighted pass through the legs of the Hull defender from team mate De Bruyne. However, for me the key man for Chelsea on Monday night will be Ramires. Ramires scored at old Trafford last season, one of the reasons being he is able to burst through the midfield with his fantastic stamina and speed. Old Trafford has a massive pitch enabling Ramires to use these abilities to his advantage. Defensively, he is important as he hassles other players and makes crunching tackles that have a knock-on effect on other players within the team to improve their work rate. In the first two games this season Ramires had a passing accuracy of 93% compared to 85% last season. This is impressive and something that Chelsea will hope he can maintain.
The pairing of Vidic and Ferdinand will be key for United in keeping the team in shape and relieving pressure on goal keeper De Gea. Vidic suffered from injuries last season, and maybe as a consequence, they were only able to keep 12 clean sheets. Although, the fire power of Robin Van Persie did help counteract this problem. In the 2011/12 season, United managed 21 clean sheets, again highlighting the importance of pairing Vidic and Ferdinand.
Wayne Rooney may find it difficult to be included in United’s first eleven following his recent injuries and the continued speculation that he wants to leave the club for Mourinho’s Chelsea. After Welbeck’s positive performance and goals, one would expect that he will partner Robin Van Persie up front. However, following Xavier Hernandez’ goal scoring record against Chelsea, Moyes may want him to start against the Blues, however he confirmed that he was still recovering from an injury. Hernandez scored the controversial winner during last season’s match at Stamford Bridge. David Moyes confirmed that full back Rafael will be unable to take part, which could see Phil Jones step in as full back. Nani and Ashley Young will also be out, which definitely limits their options in the wide areas; this could see Zaha make his first competitive start at Old Trafford.
Both Tomas Kalas and David Luiz remain out and won’t feature. John Terry and Gary Cahill are expected to start at Old Trafford in the centre back positions. Chelsea currently have a vast amount of options in midfield but expect both Eden Hazard and Oscar to start. Following Chelsea’s midweek performance against Aston Villa, it may be too soon for Juan Mata to start as he looked a little off the pace due to not getting as many minutes in preseason as he would have hoped following an extended holiday due to international duty. From a personal perspective, I hope Kevin De Bruyne is selected, as I can envisage him playing a vital role for the Blues as he has the ability to switch play with ease, a useful tactic against a defence like United. Fernando Torres is likely to return to the squad after being rested against Aston Villa.
Robin Van Persie scored 26 goals last season and won the Premier League golden boot, he’s already scored 2 in 1 this season, so expect him to get on the score sheet. Michael Carrick had an impressive 3149 touches on the ball in the league whereas the Chelsea player with the most touches of the ball was Juan Mata, with 2395. Michael Carrick will try and help win the midfield battle by using his ability to keep the ball through passing.
A game like this is difficult to predict, but I expect goals to be scored judging by the attacking talent on display. I predict that both teams will score. Both managers need to get their tactics right if they want to stand a chance of winning, with United playing at home, you’d expect them to be favourites but the Jose Mourinho-factor could swing it for Chelsea. Manchester United are much better equipped in the striking department with Robin Van Persie, a truly world class striker who is confident in front of goal but also creative for his teammates. Chelsea on the other hand, possesses real creativity and flair which will see them threaten United. It will be really interesting to see how the two different styles of football battle it out on Monday night. I expect a 2-2 thriller as neither Mourinho nor Moyes will want to lose this match.
Manchester United are the favourites to win the match, going into the game as Premier League champions and are playing at home. United are at good odds of 2.47 for the win, whereas Chelsea are 3.0 to win. The odds highlight that nobody knows how this game is going to end.
For a safer bet I would opt for over 2.5 goals at 1.847. The draw is also looking good value for a smaller bet at 3.42 as both managers will be keen not to lose.
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