Drop points, you must not. We’re not entirely sure if Yoda ever whispered those words in the direction of Jose Mourinho, but another small, podgy, old and balding man will be saying similar things to his team-mates in the away dressing room of Stamford Bridge tomorrow. Yes, I’m afraid we’re talking about you Wayne Rooney. As Manchester United captain it is up to you to rally your troops – against a Chelsea side they haven’t beaten in the last 10 games.
It’s almost exactly four years to the day when Manchester United last beat Chelsea – Javier Hernandez bagged a 75th minute winner after both Branislav Ivanovic and Fernando Torres had been shown their marching orders by referee Mark Clattenburg. Since then the Pensioners have picked up five wins and five draws against Man United – giving the Red Devils more sleepless nights than the army of crazy clowns creeping around the neighbourhood.
Would Chewbacca United all the same? A trip to the Bridge also brings with it plenty of unhappy memories for travelling fans – not least because you’d need a second mortgage to afford a pie and a pint in the ground. The Red Devils have won just two of their last 15 league meetings away at Chelsea. Chicarito’s winner was one of those, with the other coming back in April 2002 when Gareth Gates was number one with Unchained Melody, and the Celtic Tiger continued to purr away.
But, there is one notable difference with United this time around. Manager Jose Mourinho is in charge of the empire, and now he returns to the place where he won three Premier League titles, three League Cups, and one FA Cup. In 106 top flight matches at the Bridge as manager of Chelsea, Mourinho lost just five times – so he’s no stranger to the winning feeling in this part of London.
The question will be, can he do it with the away side? There’s no question that he likes the big occasion – and not just because he’s a showman. In 45 games against Liverpool, Arsenal, Man City and Man Utd, Jose lost just five times.
At odds of it would be no surprise if punters were tempted to back the game to end all square, particularly as four of the last six games between these two sides have ended all square. But in the words of Obi-Wan Kenobi, “This is not the draw you’re looking for.”
The on Antonio Conte’s Chelsea might reel some punters in, while if you fancy a Rogue 1-0 to Mourinho’s men is a punt. Diego Costa was the (Phantom) menace in this fixture last season, bagging a stoppage time equaliser and Chelsea’s key man is to break the deadlock.
The form book says to side with Chelsea, particularly after United’s drab performance away to Liverpool on Monday night, but will the Return of Jose upset the odds?