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Man U v Chelsea


Clive Walker examines how Chelsea might wrest a priceless three points from Manchester United's clutches.

Key battles
'I imagine the mood in the Chelsea dressing room after qualifying for a second consecutive European final will be buzzing. Likewise Man United won the title a couple of weeks ago, but they have less to lose in this game.

'They cannot beat our record points tally but this being Man United, Sir Alex Ferguson will not want his players slackening off one bit. Every opportunity to land one on his rivals, he'll always want to take it. There will also be 70,000 fans wanting the same.

'Chelsea will be hoping to dominate the ball like we did in the second half of the FA Cup match up there. One thing is certain: we will play with no fear against them after the last three meetings. It is a United team we've played very well against in parts.

'Juan Mata and Oscar could come back in to the starting line-up with Ashley Cole returning after his European suspension. Demba Ba may take his place upfront after the match-winning goal at the Bridge. He has hit three in seven against Man United over his career.

'Ba has show he can trouble Rio Ferdinand and Chris Smalling. Or it could be Jonny Evans who has improved this year. Ba will relish facing any opponent.

'Phil Jones (pictured below) was playing as a right-back in that match but since then has been in midfield on occasions, where he sometimes finds himself in positions to score but is not a natural.

Jones and Hazard

'Like Chelsea with David Luiz, there are different qualities he brings to different parts of the field. Jones is young and still to find his position or, more importantly, a partnership. Ferguson obviously likes him and sees him as one for the future. He's a good, tough player.

'In central midfield the pairing of Tom Cleverley and Michael Carrick was outshone by Chelsea over much of the cup matches. Ferguson has tried a number of different partners for Carrick since, including Jones, Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs, looking for the right blend.

'Carrick has been a great strength this season - when they are in possession. Defensively, Cleverley can be pulled out of position and could be a reason why he likes Jones in there to shore it up.

'Eden Hazard and Ramires caused the United rearguard all sorts of problems in the 2-2 game. Ramires has hit the net in three of our last four matches against United, which is good going for a midfielder.

'Whether it's those two or Oscar and Mata in that crucial advanced role, they have to move the ball quickly to play around United's middle men.

'For them, Robin van Persie has returned to productivity again after going 750 minutes without a goal, including both our FA Cup matches. But now he's hit six in his last four and some of his goals have been outstanding and you cannot legislate for them.

'You have to give him no room to turn or set himself, no time and space to shot. If you do, like all top players he will punish you. Even in that barren spell complete concentration was required from opposing defenders.

'Another factor is the Tottenham game on the horizon - is that the more crucial game? I think Rafael Benitez will play his strongest available team for each match.'

Squad fitness news
The fitness of Eden Hazard, who was taken off as a precaution during the midweek match against Basel, and John Mikel Obi, who missed that match due to knock to his hip in training, will be assessed ahead of this game.

It is reported that Paul Scholes will be in the Man United squad for the first time since January following a knee injury. Danny Welbeck (knee) is missing but Nemanja Vidic is available following a calf strain.

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Chelsea travel to Old Trafford knowing that a haul of nine points from the remaining 12 available will guarantee a top-four finish.

We have lost one of our last seven Barclays Premier League games.

The Blues have opened the scoring in 23 Premier League matches which is a higher percentage than any other club. We have gone on to win 17 games and draw five. Only West Ham have defeated us.

The Blues are eight points better off compared to the corresponding 34 fixtures last season.

We have gained 12 points from losing positions this term and dropped 16 points from winning positions.

Last six results
Apr 14 Manchester City (FA Cup Wembley) L 1-2
Apr 17 Fulham (a) W 3-0
Apr 21 Liverpool (a) D 2-2
Apr 25 Basel (Europa League a) W 2-1
Apr 28 Swansea (h) W 2-0
May 2 Basel (Europa League h) W 3-1

Premier League scorers
Lampard 13 (5 pens), Mata 10, E Hazard 9 (2 pens), Torres 7 (1 pen), Ivanovic 5, Ramires 4, Terry 4, Oscar 3 (1 pen), Ba 2, Cahill 2, D Luiz 2, Cole 1, Marin 1, Moses 1, Sturridge 1, own goals 3. Total 68

League games since
An away win: 1
An away draw: 0
An away defeat: 2

Chelsea's next three games
Wed 8 May Tottenham home 7.45pm
Sat 11 May Aston Villa away 12.45pm
Wed 15 May Benfica (Europa League final) Amsterdam 7.45pm

Frank Lampard needs one goal to equal our all-time top scorer Bobby Tambling on 202.

If selected, John Terry will make his 550th start for the Blues and Branislav Ivanovic his 200th start in a Blue shirt.

Ashley Cole's next appearance will be his 50th this season for club and country.

Congratulations to Yossi Benayoun who celebrates his 33rd birthday (today) Sunday.

1878 (as Newton Heath Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway FC)

Major trophies
20 League championships, last in 2013
11 FA Cups, last in 2004
4 League Cups, last in 2010
19 FA Charity/Community Shields (incl 4 shared), last in 2011
3 European Cups, last in 2008
1 European Cup Winners' Cup in 1991
1 UEFA Super Cup in 1991
1 Intercontinental Cup in 1999
1 FIFA Club World Cup in 2008

At home this term they have won 45 points from a possible 51 with 15 wins against Fulham, Wigan, Stoke, Arsenal, QPR, West Ham, Sunderland, Newcastle, West Brom, Liverpool, Southampton, Everton, Norwich, Reading and Aston Villa and two defeats to Tottenham and Manchester City

It is over a year since Man Utd drew a league game at Old Trafford - the 4-4 draw to Everton in April 2012.

Since Chelsea last won at Old Trafford on 3 April 2010, United have won 50 of their 57 home Premier League matches, drawing three and losing four.

Man United have scored in 66 Premier League home games since a 0-1 defeat by Aston Villa in December 2009.

Man U have gained an impressive 29 points from losing or drawing positions this term. The best record in the Premier League.

Only Everton away on the opening day and Norwich at Carrow Road in November have managed to stop United from scoring in the Premier League this term.

Manager Sir Alex Ferguson
Days in charge: 9,677
Played: 1,497
Won: 894
Drawn: 337
Lost: 266

Red Devils' last 10 year league history
2002/03 83 1st
2003/04 75 3rd
2004/05 77 3rd
2005/06 83 2nd
2006/07 89 1st
2007/08 87 1st
2008/09 90 1st
2009/10 85 2nd
2010/11 80 1st
2011/12 89 2nd




Last six results
Apr 1 Chelsea (FA Cup a) L 0-1
Apr 8 Manchester City (h) L 1-2
Apr 14 Stoke (a) W 2-0
Apr 17 West Ham (a) D 2-2
Apr 22 Aston Villa (h) W 3-0
Apr 28 Arsenal (a) D 1-1


Premier League scorers
Van Persie 25 (3 pens), Rooney 12 (1 pen), Hernández 8, Kagawa 5, own goals 5, Evra 4, Evans 3, Rafael 3, Cleverley 2, Giggs 2, Anderson 1, Büttner 1, Carrick 1, Fletcher 1, Nani 1, Powell 1, Scholes 1, Valencia 1, Vidic 1, Welbeck 1. Total 79.

League games since
A home win: 0
A home draw: 18
A home defeat: 1

Man United's completed January transfers
Ins Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace, undisclosed)
Outs Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace, loan), Bebe (Rio Ave, loan), Angelo Henriquez (Wigan, loan), Frederico Macheda (Stuttgart, loan)

Howard Webb is refereeing his fifth Chelsea match this season. His most recent was at Old Trafford in our FA Cup quarter-final. He was the official for the Champions League semi-final between Real Madrid v Borussia Dortmund this week.

There are no suspensions.

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