Chelsea will be looking to keep their march for the Premier League title in full speed as they welcome a resurgent Manchester United to Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
The Blues lead Arsenal by seven points, with a game in hand, and have the opportunity to extend the gap to 10 points with the Gunners facing Reading in the FA Cup semi-final before welcoming Chelsea to the Emirates next week – so there could be a 13 point gap next week! United themselves sit just a point further back.
But standing in Chelsea’s way are a Man United side that has undergone somewhat of a renaissance in recent months. Although defensive problems still exist, gone are the early days of the Louis van Gaal reign when the Manchester club were a laughing stock (5-3 to Leicester, anyone?).
Despite their recent revival and the huge boost of a 4-2 win over bitter rivals Manchester City last week, it’s worth remembering that no Premier League team has a better record against Man United than Chelsea.
Jose Mourinho said that, even without the prospect of a fourth Premier League title lurking around the corner, he hasn’t needed to motivate his team ahead of Saturday’s evening clash.
“Playing against Man United is playing against one of the biggest teams in the world. It’s what everybody wants,” Mourinho said.
“This week I didn’t have to motivate my players. There’s no need to, it’s a special fixture and a big game.”
Loic Remy is in contention to play some part after missing last week’s laboured 1-0 win over QPR. But the uncertainty surrounding his fitness means Didier Drogba is likely to lead the line again.
Louis van Gaal is yet again facing an injury crisis – so much so that he has even suggested that he could play Wayne Rooney in a holding midfield role. Michael Carrick and Daley Blind – the two holding midfield candidates – Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones are all missing, and Johnny Evans is still suspended.
“It is the worst scenario,” Van Gaal said. “Marcos and Phil can both play left central defender and Jonny Evans is also suspended so I do not have many choices.
“Daley Blind and Michael Carrick could play as a holding midfield player and I do not have another option. It is a puzzle.”
Come on Chels!