Liverpool and Manchester United battle for Champions League place

Liverpool come full circle on Sunday as Manchester United visit Anfield – a grudge match in every sense of the word – and yet intensified by what lies at stake. When the sides met at Old Trafford in the middle of December Brendan Rodgers debuted his innovative 3-4-2-1 formation, but his team still ended the game on the wrong side of a 3-0 thrashing. The Reds dropped to 10th in the table and 10 points behind their arch-rivals, and at that stage their prospects of a top four finish looked incredibly bleak.

But the seeds of Liverpool’s revival were sown in those harrowing 90 minutes at Old Trafford. The 3-4-2-1 has been an ever-present since, it has led to greater defensive solidity and allowed Liverpool to replicate a hint of their attacking zest from last season; most importantly they haven’t suffered defeat in the league since, and they now sit two points behind their fourth-placed rivals with nine games remaining.

 

Liverpool v Manchester United Betting Odds:

Liverpool win 21/20

Manchester United win 12/5

Draw 12/5

(All odds provided by AllYouBet.ag are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

The system may have come by design, but the personnel in the eleven that will probably start at Anfield very much by accident. Brad Jones infamously displaced Simon Mignolet in goal and his novel trait of playing dodgeball, rather than, say, goalkeeping, lasted until a Boxing Day injury picked up at Burnley. The Belgian has subsequently found his best form since his move to Merseyside behind the settled back three of Emre Can, Martin Skrtel and Mamadou Sakho.

Can’s elevation to a ball-playing right-sided centre-half came in that trip to Turf Moor, after an injury to Glen Johnson and half-time substitution of Kolo Toure. Sakho’s opportunity on the left finally came after Rodgers’ patience with £20million summer recruit Dejan Lovren wore thin. Those three and Mignolet have formed an effective defensive unit and underpinned Liverpool’s surge up the table since the turn of the year.

 

P 13 W 10 D 3 L 0 F 24 A 8

Those are the numbers behind the Reds’ transformation since the bleakest of midwinters; a season that looked a write-off is now full of opportunity and progression. The highlight of their current five-game winning streak came with Philippe Coutinho’s stunning winner against Manchester City, but it has also included important victories against Tottenham and Southampton, teams that they have left behind in pursuit of Champions League football next season.

A similar outcome against Louis van Gaal’s Man United on Sunday will see Liverpool enter the top four for the first time since August. United fans may have feared retribution from their Red rivals on Sunday, but the manner of their 3-0 win over Spurs last weekend has changed the conversation somewhat. It was easily their best performance since the turn of the year and has soothed the heavy criticism of the manager and his playing style in the wake of the FA Cup defeat to Arsenal.

It hinted at a reinvigoration at both ends of the pitch; David de Gea remains in fine form while Wayne Rooney, restored to the strike force, has struck four goals in as many games. While results have remained mostly positive throughout the season, a progressive style of play has mostly eluded van Gaal. The Spurs result is a small sample size, granted, but it had United playing fluid football, quicker in tempo and largely to their strengths.

 

The increasing use of Marouane Fellaini has been a lightning rod for criticism of van Gaal and his tiresomely lampooned “philosophy”, but it’s a red herring. United have failed to convince this season not because of a perceived over-reliance on long-balls, but because of painfully slow build-up play that made them pedestrian and predictable. Against Spurs they combined Fellaini’s physical presence with quick counter-attacking – it was, for the first 45 minutes, brutally effective, and could well cause problems at Anfield.

While Liverpool are not the defensively brittle side they were earlier in the season, the first half of their 1-0 win at Swansea on Monday night was their most unconvincing defensive performance in months. Garry Monk’s men cut off the attacking supply line from deep and repeatedly got in behind their backline. The Reds have discovered, though, what United have thrived on this season – ways to win football matches.

 

Problem-solving has come to define both teams in recent months. A head-to-head joust for the fourth Champions League spot is not where either side wants to be in the long-term, but this is a defining game in what will prove a defining end to the season for both Brendan Rodgers and Louis van Gaal.

 

Betting Instinct tip – With both teams aware of the cost of defeat, consider backing fewer than 2.5 goals at 9/10 with Intertops.eu.

 

JamesDutton JAMES DUTTON is a freelance journalist who has written for The Mirror, The Guardian and The Times. James helps to  run The False Nine football website, contributes to The Anfield Wrap and is a columnist for uMAXit Football. Follow him on Twitter.

Advertisements

Manchester United trip presents golden opportunity for Danny Welbeck and Arsenal

While fixtures between Manchester United and Arsenal aren’t what they used to be, there is still a sense that an awful lot rests on Monday night’s FA Cup Quarter Final. For the winners, it’s a chance to condemn their old rivals to an almost certain trophyless season, whilst also maintaining momentum in the all-important race for the top four.

 

FA Cup Outright Betting Odds:

Liverpool 19/10

Manchester United 5/2

Arsenal 3/1

(All odds provided by Intertops.eu are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

The game will be Danny Welbeck’s first at Old Trafford since he left United for Arsenal last summer. Welbeck made a promising start to his Arsenal career, performing well as a lone striker in place of the injured Olivier Giroud. His hard work and enthusiasm resonated well with his new supporters too, as it had done in Manchester previously. An impressive showing for England in the Euro 2016 qualifier against Switzerland in September, where he scored a brace, also supported the view that at £16 million Welbeck had been a great signing. A hat-trick in the Champions League against Galatasaray followed and Arsenal fans were starting to believe Ravel Morrison’s infamous words that Welbz was indeed “dat guy”.

However, a combination of injuries, big game misses and the return of Giroud have made the second half of this season more difficult for Welbeck. A little of the early positivity surrounding him has perhaps dried up and since Giroud’s reinstatement as Arsenal’s principal striker, Welbeck has had to make do with playing on the wing or starting on the bench. Neither player gave a good account of themselves against Monaco but it was Giroud who received Arsene Wenger’s backing in the next game against Everton and repaid that faith with a goal. This continued into the week, with the French striker scoring the opener against QPR on Wednesday night.

 

What counts in Giroud’s favour, as well as his goals, is his ability to win the ball in the air and to hold up play, enabling Arsenal’s cohort of talented midfielders to be brought into play more. Welbeck has proven to be a little lightweight in this role but on the other hand he is better at getting behind the defence with his pace.  As such, recent appearances have tended to come out wide.

It is always difficult to predict how players will perform against their former clubs, but it is worth remembering that Welbeck built a reputation at United as a big game player. He rarely shirked responsibility and performances like the one at the Bernabeu against Real Madrid two seasons ago stand out as evidence of rising to the grand occasion. He is a young player, still developing his game and the prospect of maturing alongside other English players like Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is an exciting one.

United themselves still look like a side in transition. Until recently, they had been above Arsenal in the table but Louis van Gaal is yet to pull off many truly convincing displays. David de Gea has saved them many points this season and should Welbeck start, he is likely to enjoy running at his former teammates. They are without ex-Arsenal striker Robin van Persie, who has had no qualms seeing off the Gunners in the past.

 

Finally, Monday night represents a massive opportunity for Wenger to prove that Arsenal’s performance at Manchester City earlier this year was not a one-off. So long berated for his record in big games, victory for Arsenal would break a real hoodoo. Wenger has not won at Old Trafford since September 2006 – out of Arsenal’s starting line-up that day, only Tomas Rosicky remains at the club. Since then, there’s not been much to enjoy for Wenger in the red half of Manchester. Memories of being sent to the stands and abused by the United fans in August 2009 and the humiliating 8-2 defeat two years later are still fresh in the memory.

And yet, Wenger has remained one of the few constants in English football. The FA Cup has always been a trophy dear to the Frenchman and if Arsenal can see off United on Monday, Wenger could well be on course for a historic sixth. This would draw him level with the great Aston Villa manager George Ramsay and overtake Sir Alex Ferguson. With Fergie out of the picture, it is really time for Wenger to show what his Arsenal side are capable of.

 

Betting Instinct tip Arsenal to win on Monday night is 39/20 with AllYouBet.ag

 

Hugo avatarHUGO GREENHALGH is co-founder and editor of The False Nineand a contributor to Eurosport and When Saturday Comes. He can be found following his favourite clubs: Arsenal and Dulwich Hamlet. Follow Hugo on Twitter.

Arsenal’s England stars can overcome Manchester United

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will look to add to his goal for England in midweek

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will look to add to his goal for England in midweek

There was a time when an Arsenal-Manchester United game would provide a strong indication as to which of these two teams would go on to win the title. But those days are long gone; Arsenal’s decline from the very elite of English football has been slow and painful while United’s has been far more pronounced, swift and, dare I say, far more entertaining (from the outside looking in, at least). This lowering of the stakes in recent times has contributed to the feeling that the fixture isn’t what it once was.

However, one gets the impression that more has changed than just the league positions of the sides. Arsenal and United used to provide fiery contests; there existed a real rivalry and a deep-seated hatred between the two. Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira would engage in ninety minute-long sledging matches, both managers would constantly seek to get the upper hand over the other and even a young Cesc Fàbregas once threw a slice of pizza across the tunnel! It was the Premier League at its most intense and, arguably, its most fun and we’ve certainly lost something as, one by one, the protagonists of those fantastic games have departed.

 

Arsenal v Manchester United Betting Odds:

Arsenal win 23/20

Manchester United win 11/5

Draw 23/10

(All odds provided by Intertops.eu are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

While far from the big ticket it once was, the fixture remains among the most eagerly-anticipated of the season. And while these two massive clubs are no longer fighting one another for the title, the games are perhaps more intriguing than ever, with this Saturday’s match at the Emirates a case in point. The visitors Manchester United go into the game just a point behind Arsenal in seventh and only two adrift of a Champions League berth. It seems perverse to think that, after such a turbulent start to the season, United should be so close. Manchester City appear the only side capable of mounting a credible title challenge to José Mourinho’s rampant Chelsea so a top-four finish and a return to Europe’s top table for Louis van Gaal’s men this season would surely constitute a success.

The hosts, though, head into the game at something of a crossroads. They have made a disappointing, although not completely disastrous, start to the season and while yet another top-four finish is well within their grasp it looks like any league-winning aspirations they harboured have all but disappeared by mid-November. A red-hot run of form will be required to turn the Gunners into even an outside bet for the title and it’s hard to see where they can acquire that sort of consistency.

 

Still, there would be nothing like a win over United to finally kickstart their season and beside long-term absentees Laurent Koscielny, Mathieu Debuchy, Mesut Özil and Olivier Giroud, Danny Welbeck is the only fresh injury doubt for Arsène Wenger to contend with after the international break while Theo Walcott could make his long-awaited return to the starting line-up. What’s more, Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will play off the back of excellent performances for England at Celtic Park on Tuesday and Alexis Sánchez will seek to continue his breathtaking form. He has been without doubt the brightest light for Arsenal this season and if Wenger can get Welsh lynchpin Aaron Ramsey back to anywhere near his best by Saturday teatime, their fans will be confident of getting a result. The team certainly owes them a performance after the catastrophic collapse at Swansea a fortnight ago.

They are likely to face a significantly weakened Manchester United side too. The Red Devils will definitely be without Daley Blind, Marcos Rojo, Ashley Young and Jesse Lingard while van Gaal will have to check on the fitness of no fewer than eight of his players. Luke Shaw, Michael Carrick, David de Gea and Ángel dí Maria all picked up problems whilst on international duty and face a race against time while Phil Jones, Rafael, Radamel Falcao and Jonny Evans are all returning from longer-term injuries and will have to be assessed closer to the game. At least Chris Smalling is back from suspension though, eh?

 

As for the outcome of the game itself, it is of course extremely difficult to call as with any contest of this magnitude. United have the offensive players to outscore any opposition when they’re in the mood, it’s just hard to gauge when they are going to click. Juan Mata will hope to start in light of United’s injury problems and will have a point to prove having only played a peripheral role so far this term. But it is impossible to ignore the aforementioned injuries; United’s defence in particular has been decimated and it is hard to see how a potential back-five of Lindegaard, Valencia, Smalling, McNair and Blackett would be able to cope with a strong Arsenal side.

There is no doubt that on their day Arsenal possess one of the division’s most potent attacks and this, coupled with United’s crippling injury list, surely makes them favourites. But write United off at your peril; if history has taught us anything it is that games between these two sides can often decided by the tightest of margins.

Don’t expect the most blood-and-thunder of clashes on Saturday. The mood on the pitch at the Emirates is likely to be more cordial than in recent years and we are certainly more likely to see a heartfelt Robin van Persie-focussed reunion in the tunnel before the game than any Keown-esque taunts during it. But we can expect a fantastic match and one which could provide the victor with valuable momentum as we approach a hectic winter schedule.

 

Betting Instinct tip – The last three league meetings between the sides have produced a combined three goals. Back fewer than 2.5 goals at 21/20 with AllYouBet.ag

 

Jack C avatarJACK CHATTERTON is a student and long-suffering Spurs fan, who has written for In Bed With Maradona and  Sabotage Times, among others. You can read his miscellaneous and quite modest blog, or follow him on Twitter

Can United blast City’s title hopes into oblivion?

Can Angel di Maria (right) make Aleks Kolarov (left) eat his words this week?

Can Angel di Maria (right) make Aleks Kolarov (left) eat his words this week?

Somewhere hidden deep in the heart of Manchester, Louis van Gaal sharpens his sword, reaches for the war paint and perfects his war cry for the baying media. He’s ready for battle. Manuel Pellegrini, tucked away in his office, clutches his hands together and stares across his blueprints. He’s not ready to give up the pride of his adopted blue half of the city. The two men of mass experience will not leave this battle to chance with the allure of local dominance and vast ego massaging awaiting the victor.

It can only mean one thing: the Manchester Derby is back. And yes, it’s still pretty personal.

 

Manchester City v Manchester United Betting Odds:

City win 4/5

United win 3/1

Draw 13/5

(All odds provided by AllYouBet.ag are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

The two sides head into Sundays encounter with differing objectives for the season. For City, anything less than a serious push for Premier League supremacy will not do, whilst United aim to revive the side blown apart over the last eighteen months and secure a vitally important Champions League qualification spot. There may not be the fierce title competition rivalry between the two that has existed previously but this is still a bitter affair.

City have been dominant in recent history over their neighbours with five out of the last six encounters between the two finishing in favour of the Citizens, scoring at least two goals a game across the previous four meets and achieving a 7-1 aggregate scoreline against their red opponents last season. United will take comfort from their solitude victory over that bleak run though, with a 3-2 victory at the Etihaad in December of 2012 demonstrating their ability to win on the road at even the toughest environments. Much of that same United matchday squad still remains at the club, though age and injury has taken its toll on many.

 

Gauging the recent league form of both sides is difficult, for their propensity to throw away winnable matches has been paramount to the collective failings occurred this season. It was only last week that City were completely outplayed by a resurgent West Ham side brimming with vigour and energy, qualities that last season champions simply failed to match for any sustained period, a trend continued midweek against Newcastle. United will be less disappointed with their home draw to Chelsea, though it remains the case that thirteen points from nine league games is a poor early season start from the Red Devils, especially considering that Chelsea represented the first real top four test they have had to face thus far.

What may stand hugely in United’s favour ahead of this clash is their free diary either side. Whilst United have had a week to prepare solely for this match and are gifted a week afterwards to recover, City fielded a strong side in their League Cup defeat against Newcastle. In addition to that they’ll also have to keep one eye on next weeks showdown with CSKA Moscow in a Champions League match they simply have to win to keep their qualification hopes alive and avoid dropping out of the competition at the group stage yet again.

 

City will be without Frank Lampard for Sunday’s clash, whilst United look set to miss the recently sidelined Phil Jones. Van Gaal will have to make a late fitness decision on Radamel Falcao, Antonio Valencia, Paddy McNair, Wayne Rooney and Jonny Evans, with all five battling to be fit in time for their most important game of the season to date, with Pellegrini awaiting further news on the status of Yaya Toure and David Silva, both injured in the midweek Capital One Cup defeat to Newcastle.

Whether Evans or McNair make it back in time will determine how United set up across the back, though Van Gaal is still yet to work out his favoured centre back pairing, having made more personnel changes than the Sugababes. This could be music to the ears of Sergio Aguero, City’s star man who will wish to continue his fine individual form return from injury and add to his current 9 goal tally (which currently places him atop the Premier League goalscoring charts).

However, Pellegrini will be desperately hoping to see the return to form of another player whose early season struggles have been well documented by the media, undoubtedly fuelled by memories of pre-season cake shenanigans. That man – Yaya Toure, should he return in time – has so far coasted through the start of use season rarely pushing out of first gear and is long overdue a domineering brute force display. Should Toure find his top form, coupled with the space that a fit David Silva may be able to utilise against United’s attacking set up, City could easily find themselves in the goals.

 

Nevertheless, City’s defence showed vulnerabilities against Tottenham, West Ham and Newcastle, teams with less firepower than that available to United. Angel Di Maria may therefore prove pivotal in finding the gaps and unlocking the opportunities for Van Persie and Falcao should the Colombian make it back in time. All the same, it’ll be important for the reds to remain disciplined, particularly on the flanks where City can cause damage with their overlapping full backs confident in supporting attacks.

City full back Aleksandar Kolarov stoked up the fire earlier this week by claiming that City had been superior to their opponents for the last five to six years. Comments like this will only fire up a Manchester United squad growing in confidence and belief week on week as demonstrated by Luke Shaw, who told journalists, “It has been a fight, but we talk in the dressing room and at training and we know we’ve still got the best to come. I don’t think we are playing our best at the moment, although you saw bits against Chelsea.”

 

Sunday will truly show just how far both sides have come and how far they need to go to achieve their respective season goals. A win for City here will place pressure on Chelsea in the title race, whilst victory for United will send out a message to the rest of the league that they are back in business. The stakes are high – how will the dice roll?

 

Betting Instinct tip – with firepower up front for two unconvincing sides, back the score draw at 5.51 with Intertops.eu

 

CONNOR JIPPSconnor avatar  is a young sports writer and student at De Montfort University. His main topics of focus when writing are tennis, rugby and soccer, with a particular focus on Tottenham Hotspur, editing his own blog www.SPURStalk.co.uk. Follow Connor on Twitter.

Champions League Quarter Finals: Chelsea and United on the Brink

Will the return of Samuel Eto'o inspire Chelsea to victory?

Will the return of Samuel Eto’o inspire Chelsea to victory?

‘I believe and my players believe. That’s the most important thing.’

 

José Mourinho was in bullish mood in his pre-match press conference, hashtag fodder (#BELIEVE #CHAMPIONSOFEUROPE) spewing from the Portuguese before his side’s attempt to overturn a two-goal deficit against Paris Saint-Germain at Stamford Bridge tonight.

Confidence, of course, has never been a problem for José, even if it has been tempered this season by the improbable assertion, made when Chelsea sat atop the Premier League table, that they were out of the title race, or the weirdly public protestation that the strikers at his disposal were either aging (to the point of elderly), incompetent, or both. Perhaps Johan Cruijff was right when he told De Telegraaf this week, ‘It’s always the same with [Mourinho]. When things are going well, it’s the result of his good work, but the players are to blame when things are going badly.’

 

Chelsea v Paris Saint-Germain Betting Odds:

Chelsea to qualify – 3.20

PSG to qualify – 1.34

(All odds provided by GR88.com are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

More often than not, though, that confidence is justified. And so while the task at hand is great, Chelsea fans, like their manager, do ‘believe’. In 2012, the year of their Champions League triumph, Chelsea faced Napoli in the last 16. Then, as now, they sank to a 3-1 defeat in the first leg. But a 4-1 victory at Stamford Bridge followed, and Chelsea progressed. PSG will prove a sterner test—they can boast 11 straight wins and a strong European away record—and there is no Didier Drogba this time to drag the team through by sheer force of will. But the precedent is there.

Samuel Eto’o is in line for a return for Chelsea, injured soon after scoring in March’s 6-0 mauling of Arsenal, and much will depend on his sharpness. PSG, meanwhile, have their own missing striker; Zlatan Ibrahimović’s absence, however, is no disaster, allowing Edinson Cavani to move into a more central role and opening up a space for Lucas Moura in the starting lineup. Yohan Cabaye might also start in place of Marco Verratti, in part for his experience against English opposition, in part for his rugged handsomeness.

Even with a firing Eto’o, stopping such a side from scoring will be a big ask. Glorious (aggregate) defeat, then, is the most likely outcome, after which Cruijff might once more be proved right.

—————-

Manchester United, too, ‘believe’, or at least Patrice Evra does: ‘We always believe when you play for Manchester United,’ he said after a belief-boosting 4-0 win away at a Dan Gosling-‘inspired’ Newcastle side whose manager is still banned from the touchline after head butting a player. Heady days for both clubs.

What Evra ‘believes’ is that the seventh best team in England, two points behind Tim Sherwood’s Spurs, can beat the best team in the world, 20 points ahead of Jurgen Klopp’s Dortmund. In Munich.

 

He’s not the only one, either. Bayern are technically on their worst run in years, losing to Augsburg at the weekend and drawing with Man United and Hoffenheim the week before. Jeff Stelling and men of his ilk are crowing about how all the ‘momentum’ is with David Moyes’s side, as if the Augsburg defeat wasn’t Bayern’s only one in 53 league games, or as if they hadn’t won the title by March, or as if Marouane Fellaini’s flailing limbs (mostly elbows) really were a match for Philipp Lahm’s actual footballing ability.

 

Which is not to say they have no chance. Bayern’s ‘poor form’ does count for something, though not as much as some are making out. As does Man United’s ‘good form’, with the same caveat. The absence of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez, both through suspension, is a boost for the away team. But the midfield they face will still be better than the black hole that is their own, Lahm holding expertly and Toni Kroos playing with a point to prove.

Man United have absentees of their own, of course, with Robin van Persie definitely out, Juan Mata cup tied, and Wayne Rooney struggling. Rooney, however, looks as if he will play, despite not being 100% fit (because that’s worked so well for England in the past – ed.). Moyes has revealed how staff have ‘worked him hard… in the swimming pool’, managing to distract him from the water slides and wave machines for just long enough to do some aerobic work. But even if he does start, their chances of victory are slim at best.

 

We have, at least, moved past the stage where Man United losing every week is considered comedy gold. Everyone by now is used to their weakness, and, in a way, this stands them in good stead. It means that Moyes can set up as he did at Old Trafford without any negative reaction, limiting Bayern to long shots and harmless possession in the first two thirds of the pitch. It means that anything but a comfortable Bayern win can be considered a success for the manager and his players. And it means, for once, that the majority of football fans will be supporting Man United tomorrow night. For that would be the real comedy gold: an Alexander Büttner winner at the Allianz Arena. #BELIEVE.

 

Betting Instinct Tip – With United likely to set out in a defensive formation, we suggest backing Bayern to win to nil at 2.08 with GR88.com

 

Kieran avatar KIERAN DODDS (kierandodds) is a history student and writer. He has written about sport, politics and  current affairs for the Guardian, the Huffington Post, Africa is a Country, When Saturday Comes, IBWM and  others.

Chelsea Favoured to Win the Big Game this Super Sunday!

Juan Mata celebrates the winner at Old Trafford as Chelsea won 1-0 last season.

Juan Mata celebrates the winner at Old Trafford as Chelsea won 1-0 last season.

The big game in the 22nd round of Premier League football comes from Stamford Bridge as Chelsea welcome the defending champions Manchester United. This season has been a massive change for both teams with the return of Jose Mourinho at the London based side seeing them become realistic title challengers again, while United are in freefall as they sit seventh in the table and 11 points behind the league leaders before the weekend’s action has begun.

Chelsea are the favourites to win this home clash with the champions thanks to a home record that has seen them win nine and draw one of their last ten matches in a run that has seen them unbeaten in domestic action and lose only once to FC Basel in the Champions League. The match odds for this Chelsea v Manchester United match from GR88.com make the hosts the odds on favourites, but can they live up to this favourites billing and go a sixth game unbeaten against David Moyes’ men?

Chelsea v Manchester United Match Odds:

Home Victory – 1.70

Draw – 3.50

Away Victory – 4.80

(Odds provided by GR88.com are current as of today but subject to change.)

Last summer Jose Mourinho had his heart set on taking over the hot seat at Old Trafford following the announcement of Sir Alex Ferguson that he was taking his retirement from the sport, but the Portuguese manager who has won everything possible in football was overlooked for David Moyes by the Manchester United board. You can be sure that Mourinho will want to show these people what they missed out on by having his boys in blue put in one of their best performances of the season to pile more pressure on Moyes and the Red Devils.

United have struggled against Chelsea recently and are without a win since October 2012 when a controversial goal from Javier Hernandez saw them snatch a 3-2 victory at Stamford Bridge and with Chelsea’s form in front of their own fans this season being massively impressive United will need to work hard if they are to upset the odds this weekend. As well as having won 11 of their 13 home matches this season Chelsea are unbeaten in 70 matches at Stamford Bridge when Mourinho has been in charge of the team so they will confident of victory this weekend and with United’s recent performances I am confident of Chelsea winning this match as well.

United may have ended their three match losing streak last weekend as they claimed revenge against Swansea with a 2-0 win in the Premier League following their defeat in the FA Cup at Old Trafford by the same opponents. However, United very hit and miss this season and with them missing both Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney this weekend I cannot see them getting anything at Stamford Bridge like so many other sides this season. As a result, my pick of the day from this Chelsea v Manchester United match is back the home win.

Back the home win in this Chelsea v Manchester United match at Stamford Bridge @ 1.70 at GR88.com.

AntonyANTONY JORDAN (antonygr88) is an avid football and cricket fan who loves to play his favourite sports as much as write about them and bet on them.  Read his daily sports betting blog at GR88.com.

Tottenham aren’t in a lull, Manchester United haven’t turned the corner

Nani scored the pick of the goals in Manchester United's midweek win

Nani scored the pick of the goals in Manchester United’s emphatic midweek win

One match is seemingly a long time in football. Whereas teams used to be allowed weeks to get up a head of steam, players were allowed months to return from injury and everyone tried to avoid too many kneejerk reactions; that is no longer the case.

Tottenham Hotspur are a club in apparent turmoil after their 6-0 defeat at the hands of Manchester City on Sunday. The fact that Spurs had conceded only six goals in their previous 11 league games or that they went into the match ahead of Manchester City in the table after a steady start has been forgotten.

On the flip side, Manchester United – just two places and one point ahead of Tottenham – are a club that have finally “turned the corner” under their new manager David Moyes after their 5-0 win over a disappointing Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League.

(It’s at this point that we would like to clarify that the Europa League doesn’t count. We don’t know why; but it just doesn’t.)

Both reactions to recent results are kneejerk; plain and simple. Manchester United are not back to the “team of old” nor are Tottenham Hotspur a club in disarray with a buffoon for a manager. They are two teams with Champions League ambition and as such, victories over each other are necessary.

Despite a comprehensive win on the opening day, David Moyes’ Manchester United have failed to sparkle so far. After many years under the control of Sir Alex Ferguson, the change to a new boss was always going to take time. The players are still getting used to the change in system and the change in management style. Wednesday was the first sign of a “United team” still remaining at the club.

The selection was under-strength but they went out and got the result they needed. Leverkusen failed to show up and United profited with swift, attacking moves. It marked the first occasion since the beginning of last season that the Red Devils scored more than four in the Premier League or Champions League without needing Robin van Persie on the pitch. Fixed? No; but showing signs that Moyes has what it to takes the keep the players performing.

The same problems are affecting Spurs; and only a string of confidence boosting performances will help matters. After spending the summer improving the overall quality of the squad, Andre Villas-Boas is having a tough time integrating the new bodies into his system. It doesn’t help that he can no longer call on Gareth Bale to haul the club through a tricky situation.

Instead, he has to continue to work with the attacking players at his disposal and hope they can finally piece together their abilities. Roberto Soldado, Erik Lamela, Christian Eriksen and Nacer Chadli are far too good to be part of a squad that has contributed just nine goals in 12 league matches. However, it may simply be that Tottenham aren’t quite playing to their individual strengths.

Soldado doesn’t come alive until inside the penalty area. He doesn’t make runs beyond the defenders or into the channels. As such, Eriksen’s vision and ability to thread a pass is rarely seen by the Tottenham faithful. Instead, the former Valencia comes alive when presented with wide deliveries that he can put himself on the end of. Sadly, the only “out-and-out winger” that Tottenham possess is Aaron Lennon and he’s only played 500 minutes of Tottenham’s season so far.

The rest prefer to cut inside and look for the movement ahead. For now, that isn’t Soldado’s game. His scoring figures are only able to remain relatively impressive thanks to the three penalties that he has dispatched.

As for Sunday, it’s unlikely both teams will continue to fulfil the apparent narrative based on their last result.

We’d expect goals. Manchester United have kept three clean sheets in their last four games (all competitions); but two of those results were in the Champions League. Seven of their last eight league games have seen both teams find the back of the net.

At home, Tottenham aren’t going to concede six goals as they did last week but they’ll be feeling the pressure to respond with a strong performance for their fans. That’ll mean scoring goals against Manchester United, which hasn’t proved tricky to do so far this season for other teams.

Betting Instinct tip: Both teams to score is 1.71 with Bulldog777.com, while over 3.5 goals is 3.30

Ryan avatarRyan Keaney is a huge sports fan who spends most of his week toying around with sports data. He is the editor of www.thefootballproject.net and a co-editor for In Bed with Maradona.