Manchester United vs. Chelsea – the fans' view

By Claire Bloomfield
Britain Football Soccer - Manchester United Training - Manchester United Training Ground - 12/4/17 Manchester United's manager Jose Mourinho with Luke Shaw and teammates during training Action Images via Reuters / Ed Sykes Livepic

By Claire Bloomfield

LONDON (Reuters) - Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho prepares to face his former club Chelsea for the third time this season when they travel to Old Trafford in the Premier League on Sunday.

Antonio Conte's league leaders beat United 4-0 in the reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge in October and 1-0 in the FA Cup quarter-final last month.

Chelsea, who are seven points clear of closest title rivals Tottenham Hotspur, have 36 points from 16 away games this term. Fifth-placed United, four points behind fourth-placed Manchester City with a game in hand, have won 27 points from 16 home games.

Here is what the fans have to say about their two clubs:

Paul Ansorge, United Rant (unitedrant.co.uk)

“Manchester United's home form has been so odd this season. For the most part they've deserved to win the games they've drawn, but in recent weeks that hasn't quite been the case. They were singularly unimpressive against West Brom and Everton.

“Chelsea haven't been at their brilliant best lately but they have been efficient and pose more than enough threat to unsettle United. The one thing that offers some hope is that United are probably at their best when teams give them a bit of space, which Chelsea probably will.

“I am expecting us to have a Europa League hangover. They really struggled after the Russia trip (to Rostov last month) and although Belgium is geographically more convenient, Mourinho picked a strong side against Anderlecht (in the 1-1 quarter-final, first-leg draw on Thursday) and the recovery time will be limited.

“You would imagine that Mourinho will be absolutely desperate for a win over his old club after two defeats. Mourinho will take it personally. It's also pretty important for United's season. Three points has the potential to go a long way to a top four finish.

“My head says this one will end in a draw or even defeat, because Chelsea have been much better than United throughout the season. My heart says we'll actually play to our capacity for a change and that could make a big difference.

“Wayne Rooney’s time is up at United and he really should leave in the summer. If I was a Premier League manager I wouldn't buy him based on his decline in the last few seasons.

“Maybe someone will buy him on a performance-related contract and see if that helps, but spending big wages on Rooney wouldn't be smart. He should really go to Serie A where he could apply his technique to a slower brand of football.”

David Chidgey, Chelsea FanCast (chelseafancast.com)

“This is the business end of the season, every point counts towards Chelsea winning the title and that is guaranteed to increase the tension and nerves around this game.

“This is arguably our toughest fixture on paper and, with Spurs avoiding the usual end of season blip to date, the pressure is on us to keep winning. I am about as confident as I can be.

“I think we are a better team than United as we’ve proved fairly conclusively in our two previous fixtures this season, and we seem to be mentally tough in finding ways to win. I’m hoping this will be another comfortable victory to chalk off the five games we need to win to lift the title.

“To be honest, and it pains me to say it, I think Jose Mourinho’s getting there with this United side. I find it hard to believe that United can be down for long and that they will not be a threat going forward.

"Mourinho is too good a manager and they have enough money to fix any lingering problems with players – many of whom just do not look good enough to play for United.

“In many respects this game points to a draw. United have been the draw specialists this season; they play us slap bang in the middle of a crucial Europa League tie; Mourinho will not want to lose against Chelsea again; and he may well set up not to lose - a tactic in which he has proven expertise.

“As a Chelsea supporter I think we are good enough to win by the odd goal and I think (manager) Antonio Conte’s mentality is to dig out a win somehow – much like he did against Manchester City when we were under a lot of pressure (in this month's 2-1 home victory).

“No matter what the pressure and how nervous I get as a supporter, the reality is that we have to win five games out of seven and we are seven points clear.

"Most of the team know what it takes to get over the line having won the title in 2015 – and Conte has a track record of winning titles, so he knows what it takes too. I just find it hard to believe that we will lose nearly half of our remaining games and hand the title to someone else.”

(Editing by Ken Ferris)

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