Sports Betting Weekly

Chelsea v Manchester United

When: Saturday, 18 April 2015 @ 23:30 (FINISHED)
Where: Stamford Bridge
Manchester United have the chance the blow the title race wide open when they go to Stamford Bridge in Saturday’s late kick-off, sparking a double-header of fixtures for Chelsea that requires the Blues to escape unscathed if they are to comfortably win the title for the first time since 2010.

After their game with United, Jose Mourinho’s side face a trip to Arsenal knowing that two points from a possible six against those sides will likely be enough to wrap up the title at this late stage of the season – and that will go some way to making up for them not winning anything last campaign.

With Arsenal away on F.A. Cup duty, Chelsea have the opportunity to extend their seven-point lead over the second-placed Gunners with a victory over a resurgent United, but with a game still in hand – meaning that even if the Blues lost both games, they would still be sitting at the top of the league.

There are signs that the pressure is seeping through the dressing room walls at Stamford Bridge, with Chelsea looking unusually shaky in recent weeks – and this was epitomised last Sunday when they beat Queens Park Rangers 1-0, with an 87th minute strike by Cesc Fabregas representing the Blues’ only shot on target in a game that, on paper, should have been a proverbial walk in the park.

It’s worth noting, however, that by hook or by crook the Blues still won, but since their Champions League exit to PSG, Chelsea haven’t been the same side. Indeed, last Sunday was their first clean sheet in over a month, following a string of scares against Southampton, Hull City and Stoke City.

Of course, at this stage of the season the manner of their performances aren’t important so long as points are being put on the board and on this front Chelsea are still firing on all cylinders having won each of their last three league games.

For United, meanwhile, after months of head-scratching tactics and strange player selections in even stranger positions – slightly-built winger Adnan Januzaj playing in central midfield being just one example – it seems as though things have finally clicked for Louis van Gaal at Old Trafford, and the fear factor surrounding the Red Devils is beginning to return.

Four straight Premier League wins have gone some way to restoring their reputation, with crushing victories over Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City and Liverpool demonstrating that while it’s taken longer than expected for the red half of Manchester, United look a title-challenging side once more.

Much like Arsenal, but for a poor start for United, this match could easily have been a crucial fixture in a three-horse title race, rather than a game neutrals around the country simply hope that Chelsea lose in order to inject a modicum of excitement into what already looks like a foregone conclusion in the league.

Both United and Arsenal can take solace in the fact that Chelsea still have to face Champions League-chasing Liverpool, but even if both overcome Mourinho’s side, it’s still hard to see the Premier League trophy being covered in anything but blue ribbons as it heads towards West London.

With Chelsea still yet to lose a home game in the league this season, it is perhaps understandable that even with United’s recent blistering form and Chelsea’s drop-off in performances, they’re still overwhelming favourites for this match – the best odds on a Blues win are evens, with United listed at 10/3 and a draw available at 13/5.

Manchester United’s main threat could come from former Chelsea man, Juan Mata, who has three goals in his last three games for the Red Devils, but the bookies think it is more likely that Wayne Rooney will drive his team to victory. He is 12/5 to score anytime and 15/2 to break the deadlock.

As for Chelsea, Didier Drogba started on Sunday ahead of Loic Remy, and is 9/5 to find a way past United goalkeeper David de Gea, while Remy – if passed fit –will also be priced at 9/5 to score first.