Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho must rally a fatigued and foundering team on Sunday as he rekindles an increasingly thorny rivalry with his former club Chelsea, the Premier League leaders.
United have drawn five of their last six home games and go into Sunday’s Old Trafford showdown on the back of a leggy 1-1 draw at Anderlecht in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final.
They are far from ideal conditions in which to be preparing an ambush of the champions-elect, but despite his protestations that it is “just one more game”, Mourinho is likely to be highly motivated.
Sacked by Chelsea midway through last season’s car-crash title defence, he has had two deeply unpleasant experiences on his two trips to Stamford Bridge this season.
In October, he saw United thrashed 4-0 and made a public show of taking Chelsea manager Antonio Conte to task over his touchline exhortations, accusing the Italian of trying to “humiliate” him.
February’s 1-0 FA Cup defeat was a closer affair, but brought with it barracking from the fans who had once sung his name.
Check out the most interesting stats ahead of the tie in the video above.
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho will face up to his former club Chelsea again on Sunday in the latest chapter of one of the Premier League’s biggest rivalries in recent years.
Here are six memorable previous encounters between the two sides.
Jan 1998, FA Cup: Chelsea 3 Man United 5
Manchester United looked to be cruising to victory until the home side threatened a dramatic comeback. Two goals each from David Beckham and Andy Cole, and one for Teddy Sheringham, sent United into a 5-0 lead with 16 minutes remaining. But Chelsea rallied with goals from Graeme Le Saux and Gianluca Vialli, before Vialli’s second three minutes from time set United’s nerves jangling.
Apr 2006, Premier League: Chelsea 3 Man United 0
Mourinho’s Chelsea guaranteed their second straight Premier League title with a 3-0 win at Stamford Bridge. William Gallas, Joe Cole and Ricardo Carvalho scored for the home side while the sight of Wayne Rooney being carried off on a stretcher sent the game into panic stations with the World Cup in Germany fast approaching.
May 2008, Champions League final: Man United 1 Chelsea 1 (6-5 pens)
United emerged successful from the first all-English Champions League final in Moscow. Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring for United before Frank Lampard equalised just before half-time. Didier Drogba was sent off in extra time and in a thrilling penalty shoot-out John Terry missed the chance to seal victory for Chelsea before Edwin van der Sar saved from Nicolas Anelka to seal United’s win.
September 2011, Premier League: Man Utd 3 Chelsea 1
Manchester United were 3-0 up at halftime thanks to goals from Chris Smalling, Nani, and Wayne Rooney. But a Fernando Torres goal keyed an improved showing from Chelsea after the break, and when Rooney missed a penalty the comeback was still on, with the Blues doing well to create chances and get back in the game. But then, with the chance to make it 3-2 with just under ten minutes to go, Torres did this:
February 2012, Premier League: Chelsea 3 Man Utd 3
The two sides looked evenly-matched going into this game, and when Chelsea took a 3-0 lead in the second half, it was more a case of the Blues converting their chances and Manchester United missing theirs than Chelsea outplaying their rivals. No matter – Sir Alex Ferguson’s side produced a trademark comeback thanks to two Wayne Rooney penalties and a Chicharito header. There was still time for late drama after United’s equaliser, as David De Gea produced stunning saves to deny Juan Mata and Gary Cahill and preserve a point.
Oct 2016, Premier League: Chelsea 4 Man United 0
Mourinho clashed with Blues boss Antonio Conte and was serenaded with chants of “You’re not special any more” as his United side crashed to an humiliating 4-0 defeat. Pedro opened the scoring after just 30 seconds and further goals from Gary Cahill, Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante contributed to Mourinho’s thoroughly miserable Stamford Bridge return.
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The much anticipated Double Gameweeks have been announced and with the season’s conclusion drawing nearer, it’s time to take full advantage.
Manchester United and Crystal Palace will play twice in Gameweek 34 while Arsenal and Southampton have their turn in Gameweek 36.
However, arguably the most important round in Fantasy Premier League comes in Gameweek 37 when a total of 10 teams will play twice, presenting the perfect opportunity to make the most of a Bench Boost chip.
Tottenham, Watford, Leicester City, United, Southampton, West Bromwich Albion, Manchester City, Arsenal, Sunderland and Chelsea all feature twice in the penultimate Gameweek.
This week’s column picks five differentials who will not only help you score points in this round but also help you prepare for those Double Gamweeks ahead.
But first, here’s a look at the tactical geniuses who make up the top five in our fans league this week.
WHO TO PICK AS CAPTAIN
Zlatan Ibrahimovic [11.4m] was our captain pick in Gameweek 32 and he served well, delivering 12 points with a goal, assist and maximum bonus points.
This week, we’re backing Romelu Lukaku [10.4m] who did even better than the Swede last time out as he bagged two goals at home to Leicester City after failing to deliver in his previous two away fixtures.
The Belgian is the league’s leading scorer with 23 strikes to his name and will be licking his lips at the prospect of facing Burnley at home on Saturday. Alternatively, Harry Kane, Philippe Coutinho, Heung-Min Son and Dele Alli are good options as well.
Romelu Lukaku is in the company of greats as the top scorer in one of Europe's top 5 leagues. pic.twitter.com/oNBlYxR2Wh— FanDuel (@FanDuelUK) April 14, 2017
FIVE DIFFERENTIALS TO CONSIDER
Let’s not waste time discussing the big stars who could score big over the Double Gameweeks. The likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Alexis Sanchez, Dele Alli and Eden Hazard are no-brainers.
Instead, let’s look at the differentials who could give you an edge while some may even help you recoup some cash to spend on those aforementioned big names.
JESSE LINGARD – MANCHESTER UNITED (5.6M)
Henrikh Mkhitaryan (8.8m) would be the best option in United’s midfield. He also offers a great differential with just 2.4% ownership and has put himself among the goals of late but Jesse Lingard’s price tag, United’s options in midfield and his 0.6% ownership makes him hard to resist.
The Englishman is seemingly in favour with Jose Mourinho, signing a new deal only this week and starting the last four Premier League games. Although he’s only got one goal in those outings, it’s not for the want for trying as he consistently gets into good positions and creates chances himself. Definitely worth a punt.
WAYNE HENNESSEY – CRYSTAL PALACE (4.3M)
The Palace keeper has returned in five out of his last six fixtures, scoring 36 points and keeping four clean sheets. He’s owned by only 2.8% of FPL managers and while that’s understandable given their difficult run-in, they’re still bound to frustrate teams and pick up clean sheets.
Also, Hennessey should be kept busy in goal, opening the door for save points and possible bonuses. Palace have two Double Gameweeks coming their way which makes their custodian all the more appealing. It doesn’t hurt that he comes at a great price too.
HEUNG-MIN SON – TOTTENHAM (7.1M)
If Dele Alli is a little too rich for your taste, Son is a solid option especially since he’s still selected by only 9.8% of managers. There is a danger of him losing his place in the starting eleven if Spurs decide to switch to three at the back for a couple of games though.
He impressed from the left flank last week, scoring 19 points with two goals, an assist and maximum bonus points so even though Kane is set to start against Bournemouth at White Hart Lane, he should retain his place out wide.
Heung-min Son's game by numbers vs. Watford:— Squawka Football (@Squawka) April 8, 2017
1 woodwork shot
1 chance created
Excellent display. pic.twitter.com/Y7VSt6FQqn
WILFRIED ZAHA – CRYSTAL PALACE (5.9M)
If you haven’t swooped in for him already, it’s not to late. Again, Palace’s fixtures may not fill you with confidence but Zaha has proved himself recently, scoring in double figures against the likes of Arsenal and league leaders Chelsea.
The winger has nine assists this season, the same as Alexis Sanchez and with an average of 4.1 dribbles per game in the league, he is behind only Hazard (4.3) and Adama Traore (5.5) in that regard. This weekend as well, Zaha could take advantage of a possibly weakened Leicester side as Craig Shakespeare rests players for their Champions League quarter-final second leg against Atletico Madrid in midweek.
HARRY KANE – TOTTENHAM (11.3M)
This is one of those rare occasions when Kane does indeed qualify as something of a differential. Having returned from injury only last week with a 30-minute spell against Watford, managers haven’t had the chance and the resources to bring him back into their sides which is why only 11.3% retain him.
Before his injury, he scored a whopping 33 points over two games and hit the bar on his return. The Englishman does enjoy facing Bournemouth. He scored a brace in this same fixture last year and bagged a hat-trick in the away game.
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