Chelsea come to Old Trafford on Sunday 25 February for a Premier League game that could go a long way in defining the narrative for the rest of the season. The match (Kick-off, 2.05pm, Sky Sports) will see Jose Mourinho go up against Antonio Conte once again, with the pair trading barbs over the last few months. Given Chelsea’s much publicised problems of late, it opens a door for United to make a big statement and take another step towards securing second place.
United’s record against Chelsea is pretty awful in recent times however. They have one win in the last 14 games against the Blues and have been generally lacklustre when coming up against other members of the ‘Big 6’. But Chelsea really do look like a team with serious issues, and that should give United every reason to capitalise.
The rewards of a good performance go beyond three points
The idea of the ‘statement win’ in football is one with merits which are difficult to define. Mourinho, famed for his pragmatism, would be the first to point out that three points gained from one team is as valuable as three points gained from anywhere else.
But, especially for United, there are some unquantifiable elements which can be extracted from an emphatic win against Chelsea. Most notably, it would help United shake the, perhaps unjustified, tag of bottling it in these Big 6 games, thereby changing the media narrative for the next such fixture.
Old Trafford atmosphere can impact players’ confidence
Anyone who has been to Old Trafford over the last few years would agree that there has been a nervy atmosphere when welcoming top sides. A dominant performance over Chelsea would help the fans be more confident and less trepidatious for forthcoming fixtures.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the bookmakers agree with the idea that Chelsea are there for the taking. United are priced at 19/20 to win by Sky Bet, with Chelsea available at 3/1 and the draw at 12/5. It seems to be one of those rare occasions were United are priced at odds-against when coming up against a major rival. Let’s hope the pricing is justified.
50/1 for Mourinho’s perfect ‘revenge’ scoreline
There are plenty of interesting markets for the match, all of which can be backed with the latest football betting offers. United are 10/3 with Bet365 to win with both teams scoring. Chelsea are 15/2 in the same market. A 4-0 win for United, something Mourinho would enjoy given it was the scoreline Conte’s Chelsea inflicted on them in their first meeting last year, is available at 50/1 with Betfair.
Of course, nothing should be taken for granted and the majority of United fans (and Mourinho) would accept any type of victory right now. However, fans are crying out for United to truly dominate a match against someone like Chelsea, something that has been lacking over the last few years. The galvanising effect could be worth much more than three points and transform the way United players and fans view upcoming fixtures against Liverpool and Man City.