Sunday's clash between Chelsea and Manchester United is an invitation for Jose Mourinho to take his revenge. He was devastated to not get the Old Trafford job, and he'll desperately want to put them to the sword at Stamford Bridge.
The dour look on Mourinho's face at the start of the season was all about not getting the nod at Old Trafford. But even though he was crestfallen, he's kept Chelsea in the title hunt. Now is the time to send a powerful message to the Glazers, Sir Alex Ferguson and David Moyes.
Mourinho badly wants to show United what they're missing.
I expect a truly invigorating performance from Mourinho's team. He'll be taking this game as seriously as a Champions League final, and he'll want Chelsea to go out and finish off United's season. A big win ends United's slim title hopes and will have them worried about finishing inside the top four.
Forget Mourinho the pragmatist; he'll be telling the likes of Eden Hazard and Oscar to attack United and run them ragged. I expect a high-octane, aggressive performance, and it will take a big, big effort from Moyes' United to avoid defeat.
United used to rely on the likes of Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, David Beckham and Co. to stand up in games like this. The big question now is do they still have those kind of characters?
If United try to attack, they'll get picked off easily. Moyes is much more likely to go with his Everton approach and set up defensively. The best they can get is a draw in my opinion, but I fancy Chelsea heavily to win this one.
Jose: 'I'm sure Matic will have a big impact. I'm happy he has come now because it gives him time to adapt before next season.' #CFC— Chelsea FC (@chelseafc) January 17, 2014
We might even see Nemanja Matic come straight in for Mourinho. He's an interesting signing—a player who's added an attacking string to his bow at Benfica and could be a great addition alongside a player like Ramires or Frank Lampard in midfield.
Southampton heading south?
It will be interesting to see how Katharina Liebherr steps up to the plate as the owner and chair of Southampton. As per BBC Sport, she says nobody will be sold in January. She's also had talks with Saints manager Mauricio Pochettino, as per the Daily Mail, and it appears he's happy—for now.
My concern is that the agents of Southampton players may well be pushing for moves. Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez are all desirable January targets and they'll be watching Pochettino closely over the next few days and weeks.
Mauricio Pochettino: “There’s a commitment and loyalty to the staff, to the people that run this club and to the supporters.” #saintsfc— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) January 16, 2014
His body language, and whether they think he's committed long-term, could make the difference. Whether the Saints can recover their form quickly is also huge. Liebherr needs to steer the ship—not just talk the talk, but walk the walk too. She has a big job on her hands.