Saturday 18th April 2015, Stamford Bridge. Live on Sky Sports 1. Kick-off 5:30pm.
The title race takes centre stage in Saturday’s late kick-off as Chelsea will look to end Manchester United’s pursuit.
The Blues are leading the charge for the Premier League title riding a 11-game unbeaten run. Last weekend’s 1-0 success over Queens Park Rangers extended their lead over second-place Arsenal to seven points while Man United are a further point behind.
Cesc Fabregas’ 88th-minute strike secured the points at Loftus Road but it was an underwhelm performance from the leaders and struggled without the fire power of leading scorer Diego Costa and, potentially, second-choice Loic Remy.
Chelsea’s first choce goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois explained how important the win against their London rivals was and he hopes to continue their impressive run to the title.
“It was an important win for us in a difficult game. It was maybe not our best football but we got the three points,” the 22-year-old Belgian said.
“A draw would maybe give Arsenal, Manchester United or City some hope that they can still be champions. By winning they can see that we are still top and we don’t drop points, so that’s important.
“We go with a seven point lead to the Manchester United game and hopefully a bigger gap to the Arsenal game [a week later].”
Manchester United will be buoyant having convincingly downed their local rivals last time out to make it an impressive six successive Premier League victories.
Sergio Aguero gave City an early lead but goals from Ashley Young, Marouane Fellaini, Juan Mata and Chris Smalling ensured the Red Devils won the Manchester derby despite Aguero scoring his second in the final minute.
Man Utd manager Louis van Gaal was delighted with the result and the progression of his team in recent weeks. “The result is fantastic,” the 63-year-old told Sky Sports. “We have made big steps in the last six games because it was very difficult for my team to stand up and maintain our confidence in the philosophy after the [FA Cup] defeat to Arsenal.
“But I have to say, full credit to the players because they have to do it under pressure and the expectation of the fans. They were expecting we would win [against City] and we can say we have, but it was not so easy.”
Chelsea haven’t looked amazing in recent weeks but keep claiming three points, the supposed sign of a champion, but United are a very different prospect to the likes of QPR. The reverse fixture ended 1-1 at Old Trafford and I’m expecting a similar result this time around – a draw can be backed at 5/2 with Sportingbet.
Draw 5/2 (Sportingbet)