Man United v CHELSEA: Preview

Venue: Old Trafford
Date: Sunday, 26 October
Kick-off: 16:00 GMT

The press have tried their very hardest to turn this game into a battle of the managers as the former Barcelona colleagues meet this afternoon. Sadly for them, Mourinho hasn’t done too badly since his days under van Gaal – a fact the Dutchman has acknowledged ahead of the game – so the embarrassing attempts to portray our Portuguese manager as the tea boy turned good have been largely laughed at.
In their only previous meeting as manager’s in the Champions League final (2010) , Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan beat van Gaal’s Bayern Munich – an experience the United manager will not want to repeat today. Not that there’ll be any big ears on show this afternoon – just big egos.

MANAGER’S VIEWS
Going into this afternoon’s game, a very complimentary Van Gaal says of his opposite number “He’s such a wonderful coach. And to see that he’s been a champion in different countries is fantastic. He is a very modest and emotional human being, and I like that.”
Whilst on us, he says “Of course he (Costa) can play maybe because he has trained individually, I have heard and read (that) on the websites. I also have my eyes always open! He’s scored nine out of seven – that is remarkable. So he’s in good shape, I think, but he was ill yesterday, so you never know. Chelsea are one of the top teams. They are playing like a team and I want my team to do that as well, for a full 90 minutes.”
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho meanwhile, says “We are confident. We are in a good situation and there is no reason for us to change our feeling. We try for the best result as always. We try to play as good as we are playing and we are always trying to play, respecting an opponent that is one of the best and most difficult in the Premier League. We are very confident about ourselves. I’m not interested in thinking which team Man United play, who is playing, who is not playing. We are playing well, we are confident, we are top of the league, we are in a good position. The camp is happy and we are ready for the game.”

SQUAD NEWS
For United, Jonny Evans (foot) Paddy McNair (hamstring), Jesse Lingard (knee) and Antonio Valencia (hamstring) are out and Michael Carrick is doubtful for a first game of the season. Wayne Rooney is on the naughty step but Radamel Falcao is fit again. Angel Di Maria (thigh) is also expected to play.
For Chelsea, Loic Remy (groin) is injured and Cesar Azpilicueta sits on our naughty step, although John Obi Mikel (foot) Ramires (groin) and return Andre Schurrle (illness) could all return. Mourinho says striker Diego Costa has ‘a little chance’ of playing after a virus and a hamstring problem.

TEAMS
UNITED (Possible line-up): De Gea; Rafael, Jones, Rojo, Shaw; Blind, Herrera, Di Maria; Mata; Van Persie, Falcao
CHELSEA (Possible line-up): Courtois; Ivanovic, Terry, Cahill, Luis; Matic, Fabregas; Hazard, Oscar, Willian; Costa

LAST SEASON
United 0-0 Chelsea (26th August 2014)

OTHER STUFF
• United have kept only 2 clean sheets in 9 competitive games under Louis van Gaal
• United have won three consecutive league games at Old Trafford.
• United have a point more than they did at this stage last season
• Chelsea remain the only undefeated team in the Premier League this season
• Chelsea are unbeaten in 11 Premier League matches, winning 9 and drawing 2
• Chelsea have gone 7 games without defeat away from home in the league (W6, D1).
• Chelsea are the only team to have beaten United more often (15) than they’ve lost (13) in the PL.
• Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 3 against United in the league

PREDICTION
Obviously form suggests this should be one of the easiest meetings we’ve ever had against United. Whilst one point better off than they were with Moyes at this point last season and most definitely better resourced than they were this time last year, United have still had a poor start to the season by their usual standards. So, no arguments we’ve had a better return for our (smaller) investment so far. Sadly, form doesn’t account for much in competitive games like this so it’ll like be down to Lady Luck – or the officiating, neither of which you can predict post-Ferguson!

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