CHELSEA v Manchester United: Preview

Venue: Stamford Bridge
Date: Saturday 23rd October, 2016
Kick-off: 16:00 BST

Roman Abramovich and Jose Mourinho have undoubtedly played a massive part in Chelsea’s most recent successes, yet without Matthew Harding’s investment, belief and genuine love for the club, Chelsea might never have been in the position they are today. So, whilst those scrabbling around for headlines are making the usual meal over the history between Jose Mourinho and Chelsea for today’s game, for Chelsea, the only significant history this weekend will be the anniversary of Matthew Harding’s death. Yesterday marked 20 years since the tragic events unfolded after that league cup game to Bolton and Chelsea learned they’d lost the vice-chairman always regarded by supporters as one of their own and today, his memory will be honoured at Stamford Bridge.
The visit of Manchester United is always a big fixture, irrespective of who might be managing them. This season, that position happens to be filled by Jose Mourinho and whilst it might have been the club we’d have least liked to see him at, we’ve moved on. Antonio Conte has been asked a few questions since he filled Mourinho’s seat at Stamford Bridge and going into today’s game, he’ll undoubtedly be hoping to have answered a few more by the end of it.
Whilst Mourinho spent United’s millions on big names over the summer, in an effort to undo some of the damage LVG inflicted on the squad, Antonio Conte’s resources saw him raise eyebrows by bringing in Alonso alongside the returning David Luiz. Raised eyebrows or not though, Conte has started to shape that proverbial sow’s ear into something resembling a silk purse in recent games. Whether the stitching that held firm against Hull and Leicester is as resilient against United and Ibrahimovic who scored in both his Champions League appearances against us for Paris St-Germain last season is another matter though.

MANAGER’S VIEWS
Going into today’s game, Chelsea boss Antonio Conte, says “I want to see progress on Sunday compared with the Liverpool and Arsenal games and I am confident I will. It will be a tactical game on Sunday but the fans have a big part to play and can be an advantage. I have great respect for [Jose] Mourinho. He deserves a good reception. He was an important man for Chelsea and wrote part of the club’s story.”
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho meanwhile, says “I don’t have to analyse [Chelsea's] start to the season but, when you look at the table and you see where they are, in the middle positions, it cannot be bad. I knew that working in England, staying in the Premier League, I would, sooner or later, have to play against Chelsea and I would have to go to Stamford Bridge. The computer has decided that I have to go now, so we go.”

SQUAD NEWS
For, Cesc Fabregas and Branislav Ivanovic (both muscle) remain out, along with Kurt Zouma (knee). John Terry is fully recovered and both Willian and Oscar should be available for selection.
For United, Henrikh Mkhitaryan (thigh) should be available, whilst Chris Smalling (muscle) faces a late test.

TEAMS
CHELSEA (Possible line-up): Courtois; Cahill, Terry, Luiz; Azpilicueta, Matic, Kante, Alonso; Willian, Costa, Hazard
UNITED (Possible line-up): De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Blind, Shaw; Fellaini, Pogba; Martial, Mata, Rashford; Ibrahimovic

LAST SEASON
Chelsea 1-1 Man United (7th February 2016)

CURRENT FORM (PL)
CHELSEA: DLLWW
UNITED: LLWDD

OTHER STUFF
~ Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 10 league and cup games against United
~ A win would give Chelsea their 50th win against United in all competitions.
~ There have been four red cards in the last six of these Premier League meetings at Stamford Bridge.
~ Chelsea have won three of their last four Premier League home games
~ United havent won a Premier League game in London since May 2015
~ United could draw three successive top-flight games for the first time since October 2010.

PREDICTION
BBC Sport: Chelsea 1-1 United
Soccerlens: Chelsea 1-1 United.
Sky Sports: Chelsea 1-0 United

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