Manchester United vs. Chelsea, England Premier League Soccer Match Day 5, Old Trafford Manchester, England 11 AM EST Sunday September 18, 2011 on FOX Soccer, Sky Sports HD1
by Jason Green, Soccer Handicapper, Predictem.com
Match Odds: Manchester United 1.80 / Chelsea 4.40 / Draw 3.40
Over/Under: 2.5 goals
Moneyline: Manchester United -125 / Chelsea +330 / Draw +250
In a titanic battle between the 2 teams that have the best odds to win the Premier League this season Manchester United plays host to Chelsea. Man U has shot out of the gates winning all 4 of their league matches and is tied atop the table with Manchester City while Chelsea sites tied for 2nd with 3 wins and 1 draw.
Manchester United’s offense has been on fire in league play and they have a +15 goal differential while Chelsea is only at +4. However, the Man U offense did not look in sync in their 1-1 draw against Benfica in a Wednesday night Champions League match.
The last time these 2 HUGE rivals met was at Old Trafford and Manchester United beat Chelsea 2-1. The Red Devils have also won 3 of their last 4 matches when facing the Blues.
After a somewhat disappointing last season Man U striker Wayne Rooney has been superb so far this season with 8 goals in only 4 matches and he already has a couple of hat tricks. The Chelsea D really has to key on him and maybe even more so since the Blues main striker Didier Drogba is expected to miss the match due to a concussion.
Chelsea was impressive in winning their Champions League match on Tuesday night beating Bayer Leverkusen 2-0. They have star G Petr Cech back in goal and he will have to play well against Rooney and the solid Red Devils’ offense.
Nani has been joined in the midfield by off-season signing Ashley Young and they are a formidable duo and if they can play well in this match helping Man U win the time of possession battle Chelsea will likely lose this match.
Manchester United Recent Form:
9/14/2011 Benfica 1 Manchester United 1 (Champions League)
9/10/2011 Bolton 0 Manchester United 5 (EPL)
8/28/2011 Manchester United 8 Arsenal 2 (EPL)
9/22/2011 Manchester United 3 Tottenham 0 (EPL)
9/14/2011 West Bromwich 1 Manchester United 2 (EPL)
Chelsea Recent Form:
9/13/2011 Chelsea 2 Bayer Leverkusen 0 (Champions League)
9/10/2011 Sunderland 1 Chelsea 2 (EPL)
8/27/2011 Chelsea 3 Norwich City 1 (EPL)
8/20/2011 Chelsea 2 West Bromwich 1 (EPL)
8/14/2011 Stoke City 0 Chelsea 0 (EPL)
Besides Didier Drogba MF Michael Essien will also miss this match due to injury. For Manchester United MF Tom Cleverley, F Danny Welbeck, and DF’s Nemanja Vidic and Rafael will all miss this match.
Chelsea has started off well, but their once feared offense has not. There is not only player for the Blues that has more than 1 goal this season. Fernando Torres has not done much of anything since his big transfer from Liverpool last season and this is the perfect match for him to have his Blues coming out party.
Chelsea’s MF duo of John Mikel Obi and Frank Lampard have to push the envelope on offense, but I think they really have to concentrate on thwarting the Man U offense. One thing the Blues have going for them is that Manchester United G David De Gea, as while he has only conceded 3 goals in 4 matches he has looked a little shaky.
Rooney has a history of playing well against Chelsea and even though he will be the main guy to stop the Blues will not be able to do it, as he will score at least one goal.
Man U is always stingy on defense at home and that trend will continue, as they will keep a clean sheet in this match.
Jason’s Pick to Win the Match: I look for most of this match to be played in the midfield, as both teams will come out cautious. Chelsea will be happier with a draw and they will fall back on defense more, especially with their big gun of Didier Drogba not playing. However, I see Rooney scoring in the 2nd half for the only goal of the match, as the Red Devils will win this match 1-0 and keep their perfect EPL record in tact.