EPL Betting Preview: Chelsea vs. Manchester United – Saturday, October 20, 2018
Matchup at a Glance
Where: Stamford Bridge, London, England
When: Saturday, October 20th at 07:30 AM ET
Odds: Chelsea -139, Draw +281, Manchester United +392
Quick Pick: Chelsea -139 @ MyBookie
This matchup is always fascinating and even though United are far from their best days, the clash between Chelsea and The Red Devils still represents one of the Premier League classics.
This will be the first meeting of these two popular clubs since the 2018 FA Cup Final in May, which Antonio Conte's Chelsea won 1-0 thanks to Eden Hazard's first-half penalty.
However, this will be the first-ever duel between Maurizio Sarri and Jose Mourinho and both managers are surely eager to impose their style in the game.
For comparison – Maurizio Sarri was still working as a middle-aged banker by the time Mourinho made his first managerial steps – and is yet to win a trophy following spells at various domestic clubs. When Mourinho was winning a historic treble with Inter Milan in 2010, Sarri was in charge of Grosseto in the Italian Serie B.
Although Maurizio Sarri lacks the experience and the successfulness of his opponent, the Italian seems to be the one who finds himself in a better position on the eve of the upcoming encounter. Chelsea is doing extremely well and The London Blues are still unbeaten after the lost Community Shield game with Manchester City. They have 9 wins and 2 draws in all competitions ever since.
The Blues have enjoyed a superb start to the season (6 wins and 2 draws in the opening eight Premier League games) and are playing an attractive brand of soccer under their new Italian manager.
Inspired by their invincibility, Maurizio Sarri's men are full of confidence yet another victory can better their chances to challenge the other two recognized title contenders Man City and Liverpool.
After winning the World Cup bronze with Belgium in Russia this summer, Eden Hazard has not wasted any time and showed his undeniable quality in Chelsea. We shall not hesitate to say that Hazard's form (7 goals and 3 assists in 8 league appearances, in two of which he came on as a substitute) has been world class and his efforts make him the Premier League top goalscorer so far.
Eden Hazard already said that he won't leave Stamford Bridge this season so Chelsea's supporters may take a deep breath that their favorite won't undertake the long-rumored transfer to Real Madrid in the next few months.
Meanwhile, despite Hazard's contribution, there are other players who must be praised for their form, with the Chelsea defensive quartet looking really tightened compared to what we saw last season. Sarri seems reluctant to make changes in that line where Marcos Alonso, David Luiz, Antonio Rudiger, and Cesar Azpilicueta have built the third-best defense in the league, conceding five goals so far.
Unfortunately, Chelsea's boss may be forced to rotate his center-back duo because Antonio Rudiger picked up a groin injury in the closing minutes of the 3-0 win in Southampton before the break. That was the reason why Rudiger was withdrawn from the last Germany squad.
The German defender hasn't returned to training in the first days of this week but may well return when the other international players are back. Sarri will have to make sure that Rudiger is fully fit for the game, otherwise, Gary Cahill or Andreas Christensen will get the nod to partner David Luiz at the back.
Chelsea's midfield trio looks really impressive as well. With the likes of the World Cup winner N'Golo Kante and summer capture Jorginho, Sarri doesn't have to worry about two of the starting spots, while younger players like Ross Barkley, Mateo Kovacic, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are in contention for the third spot.
The fact that players like Cesc Fabregas and Danny Drinkwater can't make it to the Chelsea lineup and are yet to start a league game this season should tell us enough about their outstanding midfield line.
Youngster Ethan Ampadu suffered a knee injury during Wales' 4-1 loss to Spain last week and is not expected to be ready in time for the weekend. Nevertheless, Ampadu would hardly make it to the Chelsea lineup, especially for that game, with the availability of so many talented players.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek also missed England’s internationals to recover from a foot injury.
The situation up front looks promising too. In addition to Hazard's excellence, Sarri can also rely on proven names like Willian and Pedro, who already has scored three goals in six league games, while Olivier Giroud still seeks his first goal of the season, but has contributed with four assists.
In the meantime, Alvaro Morata has ended his goal drought just before the break when he scored in back-to-back games for the first time after six months. The Spaniard is surely motivated to regain his first-team status and Maurizio Sarri can be happy from the competition between his two center-forwards – Morata and Giroud.
Jose Mourinho returns to the place where he won three Premier League titles in two different periods. However, this time the Portuguese will arrive at Stamford Bridge while being under huge pressure, in a moment when Manchester United are seven points back from the top and cannot really afford to lose any more ground on their main rivals.
Apart from the disappointing Premier League position, The Red Devils obviously struggle to find their identity under Mourinho, which resulted in their worst Premier League start.
They not only struggle to find their identity but have also lost the fearsome reputation which they have built over the last three decades. Of course, Mourinho is not the only one responsible for that regress and despite the trophies, he delivered at Old Trafford, he was subject to serious criticism over the past couple of months.
Discontent with Mourinho's style escalated after a trophyless last campaign in which United finished 2nd in the Premier League, yet 19 points behind their rivals Man City. Besides, The Red Devils suffered a Champions League setback, another one in the League Cup and have lost the already mentioned FA Cup final to Chelsea.
Not to mention the lack of serious transfer business over the past summer, where Mourinho couldn't strengthen his squad at some vital positions. He also failed to carry out full preseason preparation due to the many first-team players who were either injured or on international duty until the final rounds of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
After the latest international break, Manchester United will resume the 2018-19 Premier League season with the only purpose to climb in the standings. They have collected only 13 points so far, winning four games, losing three and drawing once.
They have scored 13 goals, four of which from Romelu Lukaku, but their defense has cracked down and United have negative goal difference (13:14) as a result.
Just as a comparison – Man Utd only conceded 28 goals in 38 rounds last season, whereas they have already conceded 14 goals in 8 games.
Not to be entirely critical, Jose Mourinho's men did well to battle back in the second half from 2-0 down at half-time against Newcastle to win 3-2 at home. Their winning determination was a clear sign that the players are firmly behind their manager despite numerous sources suggesting the opposite.
Will that comeback prove the turning point of their season or did it just paper over the cracks? It is yet to be seen but The Red Devils must prepare for a tricky visit to London in any case.
Unlike his colleague, Mourinho has a number of injury concerns, particularly in midfield. Nemanja Matic, Scott McTominay, Ander Herrera and Marouane Fellaini are all doubts for the away side.
Luke Shaw was forced to pull out of Gareth Southgate's England squad but there is hope he will be fit to play on Saturday. Marcos Rojo and Jesse Lingard are expected to miss out once again, while Alexis Sanchez is expected to return late from international duty with Chile, which makes him questionable to feature from the outset.
Considering all possible absentees, Juan Mata, who inspired United's comeback against Newcastle, will hope to start against his former club. Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial will also push for places in attack.
Possible Starting Lineups of Chelsea and Manchester United
Chelsea: Kepa Arrizabalaga – Marcos Alonso, Antonio Rudiger, David Luiz, Cesar Azpilicueta – Mateo Kovacic, Jorginho, N'Golo Kante – Eden Hazard, Olivier Giroud, Willian. (4-3-3)
Manchester United: David de Gea – Luke Shaw, Victor Lindelof, Chris Smalling, Antonio Valencia – Nemanja Matic, Fred, Paul Pogba –
Chelsea look solid and they should scoop the points at home
We are backing the home side, who are also bookies' favorites to win the derby against United at Stamford Bridge. Hazard's superb form is one of the reasons behind our betting pick, but the overall atmosphere at Chelsea looks much better right now.
Chelsea has also won seven of their last eight home matches against Manchester United, with the last away win for The Red Devils was six years ago, when they've won 3-2. We don't think that United are capable to end that negative run in that moment and Chelsea will add another win over their Premier League rivals.