Chelsea vs. Manchester United: Prediction, Preview and Keys to Victory

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Chelsea vs. Manchester United: Prediction, Preview and Keys to Victory
Jon Super/Associated Press
David Moyes will be aiming to outdo Sir Alex Ferguson and beat a Mourinho-led Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Jose Mourinho has been doing very Jose Mourinho things in the buildup to Sunday's clash with Manchester United.

The Chelsea boss has fed the trolls whenever possible, offering blithe sound bites to anyone with an ear and a deadline.

Mostly, this has centred on Wayne Rooney, but Mourinho has also gnawed at the patience of David Moyes by stating to reporters that "inside information" at Old Trafford tells him United are "not happy" with the present state of the club.

He later apologised for his remarks, but that simply ensured the story would continue. Moyes was left to face questions that he would prefer to avoid and was forced into a defensive position from the outset.

Mourinho has certainly won the battle of the mind games, but that fades into irrelevancy as soon as the actual football starts.

United are dealing with injuries and meet Mourinho's men in worse condition than they would like. Rooney and Robin van Persie are the key absences, and that hugely diminishes the chances of an away victory.

Chelsea, meanwhile, can boast a strong lineup and have only conceded two goals across their last six Premier League games. After the dull encounter at Old Trafford that saw the game end goalless, fans the world over will be hoping for more in the way of attacking sensibility.

 

Keys to Victory

For Moyes and United, the key will be stopping Eden Hazard. The Belgian leads Chelsea with nine goals and looks to be transforming into a player to build a team around, rather than the enigma we have seen previously.

He has turned in man-of-the-match performances in his last three games, so United's attention will be on the 23-year-old. 

Looking to his own lineup, Moyes will hope to feed Danny Welbeck through linkup play with Adnan Januzaj. The 18-year-old has great awareness and has forged a strong partnership with Rooney. Welbeck has six goals in 10 matches, so the burden rests on him at Stamford Bridge.

With Frank Lampard remaining absent for Chelsea with a calf injury, the stage is set for new signing Nemanja Matic to make an immediate impact. The Serbian midfielder arrived for his second spell at Chelsea as a much-improved player, and he will add steel to the midfield and cause real problems for United.

While Matic is unlikely to slash goal after goal in a Chelsea shirt, he plays with authority in a defensive role and offers an excellent range of passes going forward.

If Mourinho chooses to involve him at an early stage, Ramires could move wide to make room for Matic in the centre. It's likely that United would struggle to cope with that kind of strength, which would in turn marginalise Januzaj and nullify the Red Devils' attacking threat.

 

Prediction

Across his two spells at Chelsea, Mourinho has never lost a home fixture against Manchester United. Although United have found some form in recent weeks, it's difficult to see them getting a result in London.

Chelsea 2-1 Manchester United

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