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Match preview: Chelsea vs Manchester United

Match info: The game will be broadcast live in the UK on Sky Sports, with kick-off set for 17:30 BST. You can also follow it via our Match Blog, or by following @ManUtd.

Scene-setter: Chelsea are favourites to win the Barclays Premier League title, but United are riding the crest of a wave and head to Stamford Bridge on the back of big wins over top-four rivals Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur. Is the title race over, or is there much more to come? As Louis van Gaal is keen to point out: “We are looking up and we have to win every week, but anything is possible.”

Form guide: United have scored 15 goals and conceded just four times while recording six straight league wins. Van Gaal’s men notably drew 1-1 with Chelsea at Old Trafford earlier this season and will hope to improve on that result at Stamford Bridge, but it won’t be easy – the Reds have only won once there in 10 previous top-flight fixtures. Chelsea are also unbeaten in 11 Premier League games.

Team news: We await an injury update on Michael Carrick, who limped off during Sunday’s Manchester derby win. Robin van Persie and Luke Shaw have both returned to training, however, and could feature in some capacity. Chelsea are set to be without leading scorer Diego Costa (hamstring) and his deputy Loic Remy is also doubtful with a calf problem.

Quote/unquote: “Going back three or four weeks ago, I wouldn’t have been fancying United at all. But I’d be very surprised if United don’t come out of the weekend without getting beaten… United are in a bit of a purple patch at the moment and confidence is sky-high. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if United won it.” – Ron Atkinson.

Danger man: Eden Hazard is among the leading contenders for this season’s PFA Player of the Year award, having consistently produced performances of the highest order since August. The talented Belgian has scored 17 goals in all competitions this term and has famously never missed a penalty for the Blues.

Sub-plot: Juan Mata will return to Stamford Bridge for the first time since joining United from Chelsea in January 2014. “Needless to say it’s going to be a very special game for me,” he admits. “I already played against Chelsea in the first half of the championship, but going back to Stamford Bridge for the first time will bring me plenty of good memories, for sure.”

Rivals watch: Southampton head to Stoke City on Saturday, before City face West Ham at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday. Tottenham will travel to Newcastle on Monday evening.

Match officials: Mike Dean will be the referee on Saturday, with Simon Long and Darren England acting as his assistants. Craig Pawson will be on fourth official duties.


Van Gaal already looking at next season and scouting players

Reds planning ahead

“Already for three or four months we are talking about our pre-season. We also think about the scouting of players, the scouting of our own players because we have a lot on loan and then we have to analyse their performances, so it’s a lot of work. It’s not only the present season but also what we have to decide for players next season.”

– Louis van Gaal

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal is fully focused on ensuring the Reds end this season on a high, but he has told MUTV that in the background he has already been busy making plans for the 2015/16 campaign – including scouting players.

The Reds boss told the club channel that he and his staff began working on their ideas for next season in January. Analysing potential new signings, current players out on loan and assessing the best possible preparations during the team’s pre-season tour to the United States were top of the list for van Gaal, who is looking forward to another trip across the pond after a successful visit last year.

The club confirmed on Wednesday that the squad will return to the US for a second consecutive year, as part of Tour 2015, presented by Aon, to take part in the International Champions Cup, a trophy we won last summer. For now, van Gaal is aiming to steer the Reds to as high a position as possible in the Barclays Premier League table, but says plans are continuing for next season.

“Already in January [we began thinking about the 2015/16 season] because we have to prepare our pre-season and Manchester United will go to America,” he explained. “The aim is of course that we have to train and not only to play matches. Already for three or four months we are talking about our pre-season.

“We also think about the scouting of players, the scouting of our own players because we have a lot on loan and then we have to analyse their performances, so it’s a lot of work. It’s not only the present season but also what we have to decide for players next season.”


United move into “pole position” for England U21 star

Alex Livesey/Getty Images

If the papers are to be believed, Danny Ings could soon be United bound.

Ings, who has scored nine league goals this season, is out of contract at the end of the season and so could agree a deal with United at any moment, and move for a fee calculated by tribunal. Apparently Louis van Gaal was extremely impressed with his performance at Old Trafford in United’s hugely fortunate 3-1 win, and United think he’ll play for England one day.

All sorted, then. Welcome Danny … wait! Hang on just one goshdarned minute! What’s this from the Lancashire Telegraph?

Reports yesterday suggested the Red Devils had opened discussions with the Clarets about doing a deal for the 22-year-old striker now ahead of a summer move, but it understood that is not the case.

Oh dear.

For what it’s worth, this aspect of tBB quite likes Danny Ings. He seems to have a bit of moxie about him, and given the likely fee (about £5m) he’d be practically a risk-free transfer. The only concern is what might happen to James Wilson as a result. This aspect of tBB likes him as well. Oh, it’s a troubling life.


Juan Mata buzzing after Manchester United’s derby win

Red roar

“The best part is the incredible atmosphere that Old Trafford generates. I have to admit that it was arguably the game with the best atmosphere at home since I arrived, and I realised that already during the warm-up…”

– Juan Mata

In his latest blog on his personal website, shared with, Juan Mata is still on a high after the derby win and salutes the Old Trafford faithful for helping United beat City…

As I write this I’m still full of adrenaline after our win in the derby. Beating your Manchester rivals and, on top of that, being able to score in front of your crowd is a truly amazing feeling, especially because we stretch our good moment and we keep adding points.

I may sound repetitive but once again I have to say that the best part is the incredible atmosphere that Old Trafford generates. I have to admit that it was arguably the game with the best atmosphere at home since I arrived to United, and I realised that already during the warm-up… it was a special game. It’s not easy to explain with words what you feel on the pitch, but the thrill of a comeback in a derby is something I will never forget.

Ashley [Young] was decisive to tie the score and also in our second goal, and after that we could control the game and add up three more points that are very important to reach our goal. Perhaps the most remarkable thing, once again, was the character and personality shown by the team after a bad start.

From this Monday we are already thinking about our next ‘final’, a visit to the leader of the Premier League. Needless to say that it’s going to be a very special game for me. I already played against Chelsea in the first half of the championship, but going back to Stamford Bridge for the first time will bring me plenty of good memories, for sure.

Hugs to all, and I hope we can keep our good streak in what it’s going to be a special game for me! Have a nice week, my friends!



Report: United 4 City 2



Young 14, Fellaini 27, Mata 67, Smalling 73


Aguero 8, 88

United secured a 70th Manchester derby victory over rivals City with a superb 4-2 victory at a jubilant Old Trafford on Sunday that extends the Reds’ lead over the Blues to four points.

It was another fine performance from Louis van Gaal’s men who responded brilliantly after going behind to an eighth-minute Sergio Aguero strike. Ashley Young levelled on 14 minutes before setting up Marouane Fellaini to head home. Juan Mata slotted home a third after the hour, before Chris Smalling completed United’s scoring with a fourth soon after. Aguero pulled a consolation back near the end, but the game was already effectively over by that point and the hosts were down to 10 men after Michael Carrick limped off.

Van Gaal made one change to the side that beat Aston Villa 3-1 in the previous game, with Smalling, sent off against City earlier in the campaign, replacing Marcos Rojo, who dropped to the bench, in the centre of the defence alongside Phil Jones.

City arrived at a rain-soaked Old Trafford on the back of three away defeats, while the Reds were going in search of a fifth straight Barclays Premier League victory. The Reds started on the front foot in the opening couple of minutes but it was the visitors who had the first opening of the game and struck the early blow after just eight minutes.

After David De Gea saved well with his legs from Jesus Navas, who found himself through on goal thanks to a long ball from Martin Demichelis, the Reds survived a couple of scares from a couple of resulting corners. But in the same passage of play, Gael Clichy found James Milner down the left, who slipped a pass into the onrushing David Silva and he found Aguero who tapped into an empty net.

It was a sucker punch for the Reds but Louis van Gaal’s men ensured the best possible response with an equaliser six minutes later. De Gea, who had been the busier of the two goalkeepers to that point, scampered from his area to clear upfield after Aguero looked to get on the end of Jones’ back-pass. Fellaini flicked the clearance on to Ander Herrera, out on the left wing, and his low cross was smashed home from close range by Young, after his initial attempt was blocked by Clichy.

Young turned provider on 27 minutes as United took the lead after some great possession play. The highlight of the move was a neat one-two between Daley Blind and Young around the box before the ball came back to the latter and his excellent cross to the back-post was headed home by Fellaini as the ground exploded.

Van Gaal’s men grew in stature as the half went on, but City still looked dangerous going forward. Yaya Toure almost put Aguero clear on 34 minutes, but De Gea was alert to the danger once more, while at the other end, a studs-up challenge from Vincent Kompany on Blind led to a yellow card rather than a red.

Kompany did not appear for the second half after being replaced by Eliaquim Mangala and City’s defenders had Joe Hart to thank on 53 minutes when he prevented the Reds from increasing the advantage. The City stopper dived to claw away a superb Wayne Rooney free-kick and he was also on hand to block a follow-up effort from Carrick.

Hart could do nothing stop United making it three on 67 minutes however, as Mata raced on to a pass from Rooney and calmly slotted home through Hart’s legs in front of a jubilant Stretford End.

Seven minutes later, things got even better for the home side as Young sent a free-kick in from the left wing for the unmarked Smalling to head home and spark thoughts of avenging the 6-1 loss to the noisy neighbours.

However, after the outstanding Carrick limped off, Aguero pulled a consolation back for City late on, despite De Gea’s best efforts to keep it out, but it was too little too late as United moved a point behind second-placed Arsenal and ensured derby bragging rights belong to the red half of Manchester.



Match preview of United v City

Match info: Sunday 12 April at 16:00 BST. Follow text commentary in’s live match blog, while MUTV has live audio between its pre-match and post-match programmes. In the UK, the game is live on Sky Sports.

Scene-setter: It’s the big one. Few games produce as much hype as the Manchester derby, and the stakes couldn’t be much higher when City make the short trip across town to Old Trafford for the 169th meeting between the sides. Just one point separates the fierce rivalsahead of this blockbuster clash, which could go a long way to deciding where the teams stand at the end of the season.

Form guide: The Reds are flying at the moment, having won five successive Barclays Premier League games, including impressive victories over top-four contenders Tottenham andLiverpool. Our noisy neighbours meanwhile have been somewhat quieter in recent weeks, and fell to a fourth consecutive away defeat at the hands of Crystal Palace on Monday. The Blues will be encouraged by November’s 1-0 win over Louis van Gaal’s men though.

Team news: Defensive duo Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw could return to action after missing last weekend’s win over Aston Villa through illness and injury respectively, while Jonny Evans(suspension) remains United’s only confirmed absentee. Van Gaal may give an update onRobin van Persie‘s fitness in his pre-match press conference. Manuel Pellegrini could have a fully-fit squad at his disposal, if striker Wilfried Bony recovers from the ankle knock he picked up in training on Sunday.

chance and the draw priced at 3.40. This fixture has yielded plenty of goals down the years and you can get 5.00 on the Reds to win and both teams to score.

Danger man: Sergio Aguero’s 63rd-minute strike proved to be the difference in the reverse fixture earlier in the season, and the diminutive Argentinian will certainly be one to watch again this time around. The forward has registered 17 league goals this campaign; only Harry Kane and Diego Costa have managed more.

Opposition boss: Pellegrini has been forced to rebuff speculation surrounding his position at City this week, having picked up just 19 points from 13 games since the end of December. The decorated Chilean coach became the first non-European manager to win the Premier League when he guided the Blues to domestic glory last season, and will undoubtedly be setting his sights on derby-day victory if his side are to somehow repeat that feat this season.

Rivals watch: Second-placed Arsenal face a trip to Burnley at 17:30 BST on Saturday, while league leaders Chelsea visit London rivals Queens Park Rangers in Sunday’s early kick-off, before attention turns to another derby.

Referee: Mark Clattenburg will be the man in the middle, with Simon Beck and Jake Collin his assistants, and Jonathan Moss the fourth official. Clattenburg officiated the Reds’ 3-0 win over Spurs last month.


Rooney: The derby is a massive game of pride

Wayne Rooney describes Sunday’s Manchester derby as “a massive game of pride” and is determined to see to it that, come Monday, United fans can walk into work with a spring in the step and “give out the banter to City fans”.

Reds supporters haven’t been able to do that too often recently after four successive defeats in the battle between Manchester’s two teams but, having already done the double over Liverpool this term, Rooney is determined to change that.

Rooney is the club’s top scorer in the Manchester derby with 11 goals, and he’ll be leading the charge for a victory that not only carries bragging rights between Reds and Blues in the city and around the world, but also offers three vital points in the top-four race.

“I think it’s a very important game for Manchester United and Manchester City… for the fans and, for me, it’s a massive game of pride,” Wayne told and MUTV when asked what the derby means to him. “You play for Man United, you want to win these derby games.

“We want to give United fans something to smile about when they go to work on Monday morning, we want them to be the ones to be able to give out the banter to Manchester City fans at work.”

Robin van Persie back in group training sessions

Robin van Persie is edging closer to a return for Manchester United after rejoining Louis van Gaal’s training group.

The Dutch striker has not been available for selection since 21 February due to an ankle injury and, when asked last Friday if he could feature in the Aston Villa match, his manager replied:

“We have a process for injured players in the medical department. They then go to a football coach for tests and then to me. Robin still isn’t with the football coach. He’s still not in my group.”

Van Persie’s participation in Wednesday’s group session is therefore a positive step forward but there will be no further update until the manager gives an exclusive interview to MUTV later this week, prior to his press conference ahead of the Manchester City match. Both will be shown in The Manager’s Press Conference programme on Friday afternoon. and MUTV will have exclusive photos and videos of the United squad in training later this week.



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