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Manchester United v Chelsea EPL Match Preview
In previous season’s this fixture would have been billed as a potential league title decider, now it’s about two teams trying to rescue campaign’s that are in danger of imploding.
VAN GAAL ON HIS FINAL WARNING
The look on Manchester United coach Louis van Gaal’s face after his side had been beaten at home recently by Norwich City, spoke volumes about the current crisis enveloping Old Trafford. Trying to deflect questions away from the subject of what many believe to be his impending dismissal, the Dutchman looked tired and broken, unable to come to terms with events of the last month that has left the club’s season in tatters. The next seven days look to be critical in deciding his fate, anything other than maximum points over the festive period will almost certainly see Van Gaal consigned to history at the Premier League giants. Rumours about his impending departure are so rife at the moment, the best online sports betting sites have stopped taking bets on the next Premier League coach to be sacked; the future really does look bleak for this legendary tactician.
CHELSEA TURN TO AN OLD FRIEND TO SAVE THEIR SEASON
Arriving back at Stamford Bridge not like a knight in shining armour, more like a Dutchman wanting to get straight down to business, Gus Hiddink is once again charged with the task of rebuilding a club that has lost its personality. With only a watching brief at the recent home game against Sunderland alongside Didier Drogba (a favourite on the betting exchanges to succeed Hiddink in the summer) and the boss himself Roman Abramovich, the former Dutch national team coach’s very presence seemed to galvanise the team, making them unrecognisable from the one Jose Mourinho left behind. Now the hard work begins for the man whose last appearance on the bench at Stamford Bridge, brought silverware in the shape of the FA Cup. With Drogba also tipped to be part of his coaching staff, Hiddink will hope the Ivory Coast frontman can help to push the team back up the Premier League table into an unlikely European place next season.
Van Gaal will be able to welcome back German international midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger for the visit of the champions after serving a two-match suspension. He will more than likely partner Michael Carrick in the midfield on Monday. Jesse Lingard, Matteo Darmian, Marcos Rojo and Antonio Valencia are all out due to injury but in a tactical switch, French striker Anthony Martial could play the lone striker role with captain Wayne Rooney sitting in just behind.
As we head into the Christmas program, Hiddink will be hoping that Belgian midfielder Eden Hazard recovers from the hip injury he picked up in the recent 2-1 defeat at Leicester City. England international defender Gary Cahill could also come back into the team to link up once again with John Terry at the heart of the back four.
PROBABLE STARTING XI’S
Manchester United (4-2-3-1) De Gea; Blind, Jones, Smalling, Young; Carrick, Schweinsteiger; Depay, Rooney, Mata; Martial
Chelsea (4-2-3-1) Courtois; Azpilicueta, Terry, Cahill, Ivanovic; Matic, Fàbregas; Pedro, Oscar, Willian; Costa
HEAD TO HEAD
Chelsea arrive at Old Trafford unbeaten in their last five league meetings against the Red Devils. The host’s last win against the side from the capital at the Theatre of Dreams came back in September 2011. This fixture has produced three red cards in the last five meetings between the two sides. The corresponding fixture last season finished 1-1 thanks to goals from Drogba and Robin van Persie.
Manchester United 2.50 Draw 3.30 Chelsea 2.90
*odds courtesy of Bet365
By: Steve Mitchell (@barafundler)