Can Un­tied stop the Chelsea ma­chine?

CityPress - - Sport -

Form and his­tory favour Chelsea as they travel to a Manch­ester United side des­per­ate to take the al­limpor­tant fourth po­si­tion from their cross-city ri­vals Manch­ester City.

If you are a Red Devils fan with the means to travel back in time, you will have to set the clock to Oc­to­ber 2012 to en­joy the last time your side over­came the Blues.

The weight of his­tory is un­likely to cause José Mour­inho much con­cern, how­ever, es­pe­cially since his side has shown no small amount of re­silience in re­viv­ing their Cham­pi­ons League am­bi­tions re­cently, by virtue of their Premier League and Europa League per­for­mances.

Key to both over­com­ing their league-top­ping op­po­nents – and out­per­form­ing the Cit­i­zens in the race for the last re­main­ing Cham­pi­ons League spot – would be to do as Manch­ester United leg­end Ryan Giggs sug­gested this week, and break their re­liance on the goals of Zla­tan Ibrahi­mović.

With 30 matches played in the league, the Swede is Mour­inho’s only player to see his league goal tally in the dou­ble fig­ures – a wor­ry­ing statis­tic given the 35-year-old player is likely to de­part at the end of the sea­son.

An­to­nio Conte’s Chelsea have had no such prob­lems this sea­son. In fact, this has been a cam­paign of few dif­fi­cul­ties.

The Ital­ian has man­aged to con­vert a side bereft of all con­fi­dence into one that has looked like a cham­pi­onship­win­ning out­fit from vir­tu­ally day one.

What will fill the club’s am­bi­tious fans and owner’s hearts with con­fi­dence will be the man­ner that their side re­sponded to a shock home de­feat to Crys­tal Palace two weeks ago.

By re­tain­ing com­po­sure and win­ning their sub­se­quent matches against Manch­ester City and Bournemouth, they de­nied Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur the op­por­tu­nity to re­duce the points gap to four – the low­est it would have been since week 15.

As it stands, how­ever, the ti­tle looks to be Conte’s to lose; a fact that to­day’s matchup is un­likely to al­ter.

In the West Mid­lands, West Bromwich Al­bion host third­placed Liver­pool in a match that is a must-win for the vis­i­tors.

The Reds have played one match more than Manch­ester City, and lead them by only two points. Manch­ester United have played two matches less and find them­selves only six points adrift of Jür­gen Klopp’s side, and any­thing but all three points for the vis­i­tors could well re­sult in their los­ing valu­able ground in the race for a top-four fin­ish.

At eighth po­si­tion on the league, the Bag­gies may be well-po­si­tioned for their best Premier League fin­ish, but their re­cent form is noth­ing short of ap­palling, hav­ing lost four of their last six matches and taken only a sin­gle point from the last nine on of­fer.

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