It has been several weeks since Chelsea’s last convincing performance and one thinks that the Blues could fall to their first defeat in 14 games across all competitions when Manchester United visits Stamford Bridge on Saturday for one of the English Premier League’s genuine marquee matches.
The saying that the sign of a good team is that it wins when it is not playing well applies to Chelsea now. Chelsea has won seven and drawn six of its last 13 games across three different tournaments – the English Capital One Cup, the English Premier League and the UEFA Champions League – but one thinks that the Blues have not scaled any great heights since they thrashed Swansea 5-0 at the Liberty Stadium in the middle of January. Four months is a long time between great displays for an English Premier League frontrunner.
The English Premier League title is all but in the bag for Chelsea following three consecutive victories but the Blues did not put Hull, Stoke or Queens Park Rangers to the sword in champion-like fashion. Contrast that with the manner with which Manchester United dispatched Manchester City in last week’s derby at Old Trafford and the difference is stark.
Manchester United is available at odds of +320 with 888Sport and Unibet to beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday and prolong the English Premier League title race for a little while longer. One cannot believe those odds – Manchester United is in better form than Chelsea and then there is the likelihood that Blues boss Jose Mourinho will do what he does so often in blockbuster matches – set up his side with his primary focus being on avoiding defeat.
It has taken six months but Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has hit upon a way to extract a lot out of the Red Devils squad that he inherited from David Moyes. Marouane Fellaini, Juan Mata and Ashley Young have been born-again Manchester United players under van Gaal – Fellani operating as a deep-lying target man, Mata and Young doing their work on the wings. Fellaini, Mata and Young were three of their team’s scorers as Manchester United battered Manchester City 4-2 and, given the state of the English Premier League ladder, there is no reason for the Red Devils to adopt a cautious approach versus Chelsea. Manchester United can play for the win and that fits perfectly with van Gaal’s tactics.
The reverse English Premier League fixture between Chelsea and Manchester United resulted in a 1-1 draw. It would be fair to say that Chelsea blew its chance to win at Old Trafford – Blues right back Branislav Ivanovic was sent off in the 93rd minute and Robin van Persie equalised for Manchester United in the 94th minute – but one is not reading too much into that outcome. Manchester United is miles better now than it was in October and Chelsea, as was the case at Old Trafford, is likely to be without its top scorer, Diego Costa. The odds are that Didier Drogba will lead Chelsea’s line against Manchester United at Stamford Bridge and the old boy is not up to this grade anymore.
The purpose is this weekly column is to highlight bets at big odds that have a decent chance of collecting. One did one’s English Premier League tissue and came up with very different odds about a Manchester United win than those available in the market place. One did not expect to see Manchester United trading at odds above +250 so there is five per cent difference between what one expected to see and what one can get with 888Sport and Unibet.
Once or twice per month we will provide you with the latest sports tips and keep you updated about the biggest events.