Manchester United vs Chelsea
Barclays Premier League – Sunday 5th May, 2013 (16:00 KO) – Old Trafford
Sir Alex Ferguson ahead on Sunday’s game: “Chelsea have done fantastically well over the last few weeks… It should be a good game. We need to play with good enthusiasm and enjoy it. We should express ourselves and try to finish off a good season.”
Danny Welbeck (knee) will be the only player to definitely be missing this Sunday. Nemanja Vidic and Paul Scholes are back in training and both are likely to feature. In relation to Scholes, Sir Alex said, “I’ll probably put Scholes on the bench on Sunday to get him back into the fray,” with a view to him starting against Swansea. One suspects it will be one last hurrah for Scholesy.
Otherwise, there is a fully-fit crop of players from which to pick. Javier Hernandez’s goalscoring record vs Chelsea could see him start, as is often the case, which could see Wayne Rooney drop back into midfield. If Nemanja Vidic comes back into the side – probably be at the expense of Jonny Evans – he will partner Rio “best season at the club” Ferdinand. Michael Carrick will certainly start in central midfield with the tombola likely to be deployed to decide a) who partners him, and b) who fills the wide positions. After missing out at Arsenal, fingers crossed we get to see some Shinji.
Predicted United line-up: De Gea, Rafael, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Valencia, Carrick, Rooney, Giggs, Kagawa, van Persie
Home record: P17 W15 D0 L2 F43 A17 Pts45
Home form: W W W W L W
Home record vs Chelsea: P80 W36 D25 L19 F128 A79
Defender Branislav Ivanovic ahead of the game: “It’s always difficult, they are champions and they are playing at home, but we need the points for the Champions League.”
Chelsea welcome back Ashley Cole into the side after he missed their midweek Europ League win over Basel through suspension. Demba Ba, who was also absent due to being cup-tied, will likely rotate back into the starting line-up in the place of Fernando Torres. The Blues have no significant injury worries, with only only Marko Marin (thigh) and Oriel Romeu (knee) missing out. Juan Mata came of the bench on Thursday so will likely start. He could come in for Frank Lampard, who is one goal away from equalling Bobby Tambling’s all-time Chelsea goalscoring record – an incredible 202 goals. John Terry was also rested for the Basel game, so will almost certainly start at Old Trafford.
The match will be their 65th of an incredibly gruelling season – already the most any Chelsea squad has ever played, and 13 more than this United side. Having played late on Thursday night, you’d expect United to be the fresher of the two sides. Of course, sometimes playing lots of games instead of training gives you incredible momentum – especially when you’re on a good run; the Blues are unbeaten in 5. They go into the game in pole position for a Champions League spot – one point ahead of Arsenal with a game in hand and three points ahead of Tottenham, who they meet next week. A win is vital.
Predicted Chelsea line-up: Cech, Ivanovic, Terry, Luiz, Cole, Ramires, Lampard, Hazard, Mata, Oscar, Ba
Away record: P17 W8 D4 L5 F31 A22 Pts28
Away form: D L L L W D
Recent meetings at Old Trafford
United 2-2 Chelsea (10-03-13), United 3-1 Chelsea (18-09-11), United 2-1 Chelsea (08-05-11), United 2-1 Chelsea (12-04-11), United 1-2 Chelsea (03-04-10)
Howard Webb. The 41-year-old has officiated 27 Premier League matches this season (divisional high), brandishing 100(!) yellow cards and 3 reds. He has awarded 6 penalties this term but has yet to bestow one upon United or Chelsea. Took charge of the 2-2 draw between the two sides in the FA Cup back at the beginning of March.
Goals: (United) 79 – (Chelsea) 68
Conceded: 36 – 35
Top scorer: Robin van Persie (25) – Frank Lampard (13)
Most shots: Robin van Persie (131) – Frank Lampard (70)
Assists: Wayne Rooney (10) – Juan Mata (12)
Completed passes: Michael Carrick (2247) – Juan Mata (1390)
Most appearances: Robin van Persie (32/3) – Petr Cech (32)
Disciplinary: 54 yellows, 0 reds – 45 yellows, 2 reds
Average possession: 56.3% – 55.1%
Pass success rate: 85.6% – 83.3%
Manchester United vs Chelsea Streaming Links here
A goal for Wayne Rooney will draw him level with Sir Booby Charlton on a club record 10 goals vs Chelsea.
Should they feature, Jonny Evans and Antonio Valencia will both make their 99th league appearance for United.
Chelsea have conceded at least 2 goals in 5 of their last 6 matches away from home in the Premier League.
United have scored at least 2 goals in 6 of the last 7 homes fixtures vs Chelsea.
The last 6 meetings between the two sides have seen an incredible 29 goals scored – that’s an average of almost 5 per game!
United have won just 2 of their last 5 Premier League matches – but Chelsea have picked up just 5 points from their last 6 away league fixtures.
United are the only team not to concede a penalty in the Premier League this season and the only team not to receive a red card.
Score prediction: United 2-2 Chelsea