This Sunday sees the meeting of Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge. While normally the outcome of this game goes a long way towards who will or won’t win the title, this season has been largely disappointing for both clubs. However, it still remains one of the biggest clashes in the league and a game both fans eagerly anticipate.
Ahead of Saturday’s matches, Chelsea as defending champions lie in 13th position, a massive 21 points behind the current leaders Leicester City, while Manchester United in 5th are 10 points behind Leicester. It has been a tough season for Louis Van Gaal in which some sections of the Old Trafford faithful have turned against him. How much longer he remains at the helm is anybody’s guess.
Chelsea have already dismissed Jose Mourinho, with Dutchman Guus Hiddink in charge on an interim basis until the end of the season. Hiddink and Van Gaal have not seen eye to eye in the past, which could add extra spice to Sunday’s game.
It is a must win game for both sides, because although the title may be out of reach, both clubs will be eager to reach Champions League places for next season.
Chelsea winger Eden Hazard could return to the starting line-up after being on the bench against Watford.
Former Manchester United target Pedro is doubtful with a minor groin problem, while Loic Remy and ex-red Radamel Falcao remain injured. Recent signings Alexandre Pato and Matt Miazga lack match fitness.
Speaking ahead of the game Chelsea interim boss Guus Hiddink added:
“The squad is looking okay after the midweek game against Watford. The players have come back in and look very fit except for Falcao and Remy. Remy will be involved next week.
Pedro was not available then (at Watford) because of a groin injury but he trained well this morning and we will see how he reacts to it. I don’t think there will be big problems.”
Spraking of new signing Alexandro Pato, Hiddink said:
“Pato is in his pre-season. We have made a training plan which he is doing now, training at least once but most of the days twice, which means he is getting his fitness but not full fitness yet.”
Manchester United could name the same team which began the impressive win against Stoke. United are still without Marcos Rojo, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Antonio Valencia, Phil Jones and Luke Shaw.
Wayne Rooney goes into the game with the boost of winning the Manchester United Player of the month for January. His seven goals in as many matches has seen a much needed return to form for the Manchester United captain.
Manchester United boss Van Gaal spoke of the effect of recent results against Derby County and Stoke City;
“They were big victories so that shall give a boost to the players. You can see that in training. I feel that if we beat Chelsea – and that is not simple – our league [challenge] shall start again. That’s important.”
He went on to say;
“The competition is still not finished. It is not finished for Manchester United and not for other teams.”
Sunday’s game kicks off at 4:00pm at Stamford Bridge