Chelsea hosts Manchester United as Moses, Mikel set to make it an unhappy return to the Bridge for Mourinho
The blue side of London will welcome the red half of Manchester to Stamford bridge when Chelsea hosts Manchester United tomorrow.
Jose Mourinho will make his highly-anticipated return to a place he called home for years for the first time since he was sacked as Chelsea’s boss in December. He had two successful spells there as manager and didn’t lose a league game at Stamford Bridge until his 78th match when Chelsea were surprisingly beaten 1-2 by Sunderland in April 2014. His second spell at the club ended in a fiasco after he fell out with the team’s physio and according to reports, was sabotaged by certain influential players.
These days, there’s a new Don in charge at the Bridge in the person of Antonio Conte and he is trying to create his legacy in the club’s folklore. The Italian has done a good job of picking up the pieces of last season’s charade and has somewhat steadied the ship.
Chelsea started the season well, but suffered a dip in form as they picked up one point from three games after winning their first three matches of the season. They seem to have turned the corner with two wins from their last two matches and Conte’s switch to a three-defender formation is looking like a masterstroke with each passing day. However, the Italian will face his greatest test of the season yet when he comes up against a vengeful world class tactician in Jose Mourinho, who would love nothing more than to beat the blues at the Bridge. Chelsea have a very impressive home record against Manchester United, winning four and drawing one of their last six meetings at Stamford Bridge.
Willian and Oscar both missed last week’s 3-0 win over Leicester after suffering family bereavements but should be part of tomorrow’s match day squad, while John Terry has fully recovered from the ankle injury that has kept him out of Chelsea’s games since the 11th of September, although he is unlikely to force his way back into the starting line-up following the success of Conte’s 3-4-3 system which sees Gary Cahill, David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta play at the back. Branislav Ivanovic, John Mikel Obi and Cesc Fabregas should all have recovered from the minor knocks that kept them out of the last match.
Mourinho will be well aware of the home side’s strengths and weaknesses and the he will look to take full advantage. It will be interesting to see how the Portuguese counters Conte’s three defender formation. He will be without Phil Jones and Morgan Schneiderlin for this game. Both players are struggling with fitness issues, while Bastian Schweinsteiger continues to train with the youth team. Chris Smalling picked up a muscle injury in the win over Fenerbahce, while Anthony Martial and Henrikh Mkhitaryan are both fit enough to be involved with the former playing and scoring against Fenerbahce on Thursday.
From a Nigerian point of view, Victor Moses has been getting a lot of playing time under the new manager at Chelsea, playing anywhere on the right flank, offensively or defensively and he rewarded Conte’s faith in him with a beautiful goal against Leicester last weekend. He should be able to keep his starting shirt against the red devils or at least make the match day squad. It has been a different story for Super Eagles skipper, Mikel Obi at Chelsea this season. He was away at the start of the season, helping Nigeria win a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics and thus was not part of Conte’s pre-season tour. He hasn’t been able to make a match day squad this season since his return from Brazil either because of injury or tactical reasons. He might get an opportunity to face the man that brought him to England a decade ago, but that will depend on Conte selecting him for tomorrow’s match. We wait with bated breaths for this interesting encounter.
Alex Iwobi and his Arsenal buddies are having a great time in the league as they are on a run of six consecutive wins after their dismal start to the season. They have simply been playing great football and are in a very confident mood, which showed in mid-week when they destroyed Ludogorets 6-0 in the Champions League. Arsenal will take on Middlesbrough this afternoon and it will take an upset of epic proportions for the Boro to get a victory against the gunners. Middlesbrough have won just one game all season and haven’t tasted victory in their last five games which includes four losses. Nothing less than a comfortable Arsenal victory is expected in this encounter, but like DJ Exclusive will always say; this is football and anything can happen.
Ahmed Musa started for Leicester City last weekend against Chelsea and it wasn’t a good day at the office for the former Super Eagles captain as they were dismantled 3-0 by the London side. They welcome Crystal Palace to King Power stadium this afternoon with both teams hoping to get a win after last weekend defeats. Leicester coach, Claudio Ranieri has shown that his top priority this term is in Europe as they grabbed another win on Tuesday. They have now won their first three Champions League games in the group stage and will hope to build on that and balance it with the league as they hosts the Eagles at home. Meanwhile, Crystal Palace suffered their first loss in six games when they lost at home to West Ham last weekend and will be looking to swing back to winning ways as they face the Champions, who haven’t lost at home in their last nineteen matches.
Odion Ighalo and Isaac Success will be in Wales this afternoon with Watford as guests of Swansea and the duo will be hoping to leave there with all three points. Watford have been in better shape compared to their hosts as they have lost just once in their last five games. They got an impressive 1-0 win away at Middlesbrough last weekend and would like to make it two road wins on the bounce.
Swansea City have won just one game and drawn one this season, they have lost six games. They are currently in the 19th position after eight games and will be hoping to win this one to turn their season around. The loss of influential skipper Ashley Williams to Everton has sorely affected their defensive organisation as they have shipped in fifteen goals this season.
Manchester City are going through some sort of mini crisis as they are on a four game winless run, with the 4-0 demolition job meted out to them by Barcelona at the Nou Camp on Wednesday, the latest in that series of disappointing results. They will host Southampton at the Etihad tomorrow and would desperately want to get a win against the Saints because it gets tougher for them as they have a Manchester derby in the League Cup at Old Trafford after this game.
Sergio Aguero hasn’t scored in his last four games for the Citizens, missing a penalty against Everton last weekend and he would need to start scoring very soon as his hitherto assured place in the starting line-up has been shaky in recent games. Southampton are unbeaten in their last four league games and will be looking to quickly overcome a disappointing 1-0 loss in Milan to Inter on Thursday night.
However, they have struggled at City in recent seasons, losing on their last five trips to the Etihad. This seems like a good game for Citizens to stop the rot and get back to winning ways as any potential slip up could see them lose their position at the top of the table.
In other games that will be played this weekend, Jurgen Klopp and his boys will be looking for their fifth win in six games when Liverpool welcomes West Bromwich Albion to Anfield. Tottenham will be guests of Bournemouth in today’s early kick off, with the incentive of going top (even if might be for just a few hours) with a win there for Spurs.
Everton will look to follow last week’s resilient draw against Manchester City with a victory when they travel to Burnley, while Sunderland will face a West Ham team, who have been disappointing so far this season, but were able to get a win against Crystal Palace in London last week and Hull, who are winless in six games with five losses after winning their first two games of the season, will host a resurgent Stoke City team who are unbeaten in three matches. This promises to be another action packed weekend in the exciting English Premier League. You should check the odds on these games and more on www.nairabet.com