LONDON, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Antonio Conte takes his Chelsea side to Old Trafford on Sunday knowing they could drop out of the Premier League’s top four should they fail to take three points against Manchester United.
Second-placed United have lost two of their last three League games and have come under fire for their lack of attacking flair under Jose Mourinho.
Here is what the fans have to say about their respective clubs:
Harry Robinson, host of the Manchester United Weekly Podcast - acast.com/utdweeklypod
“You rarely ever go into games against Chelsea with confidence as a United fan, even though they’ve looked a shadow of the team they were last season in recent months.
“I am predicting a 1-1 this weekend. United’s best players are not at the top of their game, the team doesn’t look fluid and there’s no consistent starting line-up, let alone style of play. But at home, under Jose Mourinho, United tend to make something of a game and have shown brilliant quality at times this season.
“Eden Hazard is one of the best in the world but Mourinho tends to excel in organising his teams to effectively defend and exclude the opposition’s best players from the game. If Willian gets himself into the team after his goal against Barcelona, he’s one player that frightens me.
“Paul Pogba is United’s best outfield player. Better than Alexis Sanchez. I would argue that he has more technical ability than pretty much every player to ever pull on a Manchester United shirt. If Mourinho thinks a message needs to be sent to Pogba by not starting him against Sevilla, then so be it. Pogba needs to improve but Mourinho needs to recognise where to play him and build the side around him.”
Ceri Levy, Co-Host, The Chels - Chelseapodcast.net
“Jose Mourinho will aim to nullify the game this weekend and go for a draw. This is how he sees the big games. Aim for a draw and then perhaps nick a 1-0 win. I think we will play in a similar fashion to the Barcelona game with the hope of hitting on the break. This may prove to be a snore-athon if Mourinho won’t play ball.
“But I am predicting a 2-1 win for Chelsea. We have the ability to score from many areas of the pitch. Willian may again prove to be a perfect foil to Eden Hazard’s wizardry and is a player who has genuinely found his final product. Victor Moses is also returning to form after his injury issues and is marauding and defending well again.
“Olivier Giroud has shown exactly what was missing with Michy Batshuayi - power, presence and a deft touch. Giroud will do a fantastic job for us and I’m looking forward to him and Alvaro Morata sharing the striker duties when called for.
“I think Antonio Conte will stay at the club. The press are ever more irresponsible in their reporting and build things into a frenzy. Sure, there are problems at the club, but Conte is a proven manager. What we saw against Barcelona was a manager back to his furious and excitable best on the touchline. This is something that has been missing in recent times and his energy lifts team and fans alike.” (Reporting by Claire Bloomfield, editing by Ed Osmond)