The final of the four Premier League previews today takes us to Stamford Bridge as Jose Mourinho once again returns to Stamford Bridge as his current Manchester United charges take on his former employers Chelsea with the ‘Special One’ hoping that this visit is more fortuitous than the last.
That was because last season saw Manchester United soundly beaten by Chelsea as Antonio Conte masterminded a 4-0 win which draw the ire of Mourinho at the end of the game as he had what you could say was a polite word in the Italian’s ear about not overdoing the celebrations.
This particular game saw Pedro score within a minute and from there it was as if the writing was already on the wall that afternoon. The question that needs to be asked is just what lessons Mourinho can take from that embarrassing defeat and will witness the bus being parked later this afternoon.
Chelsea come into this game off the back of a poor defeat in the Italian captial as Roma made easy work of the Premier League champions. The fact that it was Halloween could not have been more apt as their defending was nothing short of shocking at times.
A win or even a point for that matter on Tuesday would have firmly solidified their chances of qualifying for the Round of 16 and although it is still very much in their hands they have made the task more difficult than it perhaps needs to be.
Their league form has seen a resurgence as back to back defeats have then been matched with successive victories, a win over Watford a fortnight ago was then added to with a win over Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium last Saturday evening.
The 1-0 scoreline may well have suggested something of a tight affair but in fairness it is a scoreline that flatters Bournemouth as Alvaro Morata should have buried a chance in the first half and the Blues were unfortunate to then have a goal incorrectly ruled out for offside.
And it is of course Morata and his opposite number at Manchester United Romelu Lukaku where all the focus will be later today especially as if life was different these two players could well have traded places in the Summer. As to who got the better deal is a question that can only really be answered at the end of the season.
But from the point of view of the Belgian he would love nothing more than a goal today not just because it would be a goal against one of his former paymasters but it would also put an end to his run of fixtures without a goal, after a red hot start to the season his touch in front of goal has deserted him as of late with no goal in this last six matches.
He was unfortunate to not score in the win over Tottenham last Satuday as he saw his header hit the post and roll out to safety but at the same time you cannot undermine the contribution he is having on the pitch, it was his header that laid the ball onto the path of substitute Anthony Martial who then scuffed the ball past Hugo Lloris to give United all three points.
They then added victory to Benfica in midweek to make it four wins from four in the Champions League and although there was some fortune in United’s opener as Nemanja Matic’s long range shot cannoned off the post and in off the back of Benfica’s goalkeeper Mile Svilar they were ultimately good value for the win.
Talking of Matic he will be another player in the spotlight this afternoon after he swapped West London for Manchester in the Summer. Many have questions whether Chelsea will live to regret that move and on early evidence you would have to suggest that they do.
Again though it is only really something that can be answered when the trophies are handed out and although the result is not going to define either clubs season it could go someway to shifting the landscape for the rest of the campaign.
Chelsea can ill afford to drop further points not just on Manchester City but also on today’s opponents, should the gap between these two outfits extend further then we could see the top six split equally in two halves with Chelsea left in the lower bracket with Arsenal and Liverpool fighting for fourth.
Of course there are a lot of if buts and maybes that depend on the combination of today’s results elsewhere but the pressure is probably more on Antonio Conte than it is on Jose Mourinho but at the same time can the latter really come here and settle for a point when their crosstown rivals are beating all and sundry this season?