Javier Hernandez scored the winner for United against Chelsea last weekend. Image courtesy of skysports.com
Few Premier League games in recent history have created as much controversy as last weekend’s clash between Chelsea and Manchester United . The Red Devils were two-up after less than a quarter of an hour, before the Blues fought back to level early in the second half. Branislav Ivanovic received his marching orders and then Chelsea went down to nine men after Fernando Torres was deemed to have taken dive 20 minutes from time. United then sealed a famous win with a controversial goal to Javier Hernandez, who appeared to be offside, before the drama continued post-match, with referee Mark Clatterburg being investigated for making a racist comment against Chelsea’s John Obi Mikel.
If Thursday morning’s (AEST) League Cup fourth round match produces anywhere near that level of excitement, then football fans are in for a generous second helping at Stamford Bridge. Much will depend on the line-ups Sir Alex Ferguson and Roberto Di Matteo put out for the game, but of late United has had Chelsea’s number. They’ve won four of the past five meetings, but their last start win was their first at the Bridge since April 2002.
Chelsea went in to last week’s Champions League clash with Shakhtar Donetsk at almost full strength, and the same could be said of the United match, so it’s highly doubtful anything near a best XI will be on the park for their round 4 clash. Unlike their opponents, United didn’t have to travel in the Champions League, but any changes will test their depth at the back, with Michael Carrick and Jonny Evans already playing out of position there. The shortage of central defenders is in stark contrast to Man U’s vast riches at the other end of the ground, with Ferguson having almost a dozen viable options to play in the front four.
As with any clash between these two teams, expect plenty of goals. Their last five contests have produced 21 scores, so the over 2.5 goals is likely to be covered again. In two of those past five encounters, the scoreline has been 2-1 in United’s favour.
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