Brace for a Reds-Blues duel
Manchester United will be looking to kick-start their faltering season when they host struggling Chelsea at Old Trafford in the Premier League tomorrow night.
The pressure on Red Devils manager Louis van Gaal is increasing by the day, with fans unhappy with the style of football he is employing at the club and results not going their way.
Consecutive defeats to Norwich and Bournemouth meant United had gone six games in all competitions without a win before yesterday’s game against Stoke City – their worst winless run in a single season since 1998.
It also saw them drop out of the top four as Tottenham Hotspur overtook them in the Champions League log, which is an unacceptable scenario for a club of United’s stature.
The Dutch manager hit back at suggestions that his job was under threat and that he may be replaced by José Mourinho, who was recently fired from his position at Chelsea, by claiming the situation has been created by the media. He said he felt no pressure from within the club.
“I held meetings with the players, with my members of staff. I held a Christmas lunch, I did a speech, and I feel the warmth and support of everybody in Carrington,” he said.
“But I didn’t feel that in the media. Of course I can imagine that you can write about that subject [our bad results], but you have to stick to the facts. “Four weeks ago, we were first in the Premier League and in about four weeks we could be back in that position.” Another Dutchman, Guus Hiddink, has been brought in to steady the ship at Chelsea after their disastrous first half of the season, which has the defending champions flirting uncomfortably with the relegation zone. The inexplicable reverse after they dominated the Premier League last term resulted in Mourinho losing his job, but the decision was not popular among the club’s fans.
The Blues faithful spent much of their match against Sunderland booing their players and singing the Portuguese coach’s name despite claiming their first win of their last four Premier League games.
Recent history is heavily in favour of the Blues, with Chelsea last suffering defeat to United in the Premier League back in 2012 in a match in which they received two red cards.
Since that loss, in the eight times they have played, the London-based club has won four and drawn four, but it has been a long time since they have seemed as vulnerable as they do now.
Fixtures between the sides are often dramatic, with the last 15 matches between them producing seven red cards and 44 goals, with only one 0-0 draw.
In fact, the pair has only played to one goalless draw in the past eight years.
Both Van Gaal and Hiddink will feel like they have something to prove to their fans, and will see their upcoming duel as the perfect opportunity to reassure them that their clubs are going in the right direction.
SEEKING REDEMTION Louis van Gaal insists
there is nothing wrong
with his United team