Live on ITV1: Wed 19.45: Chelsea and Man Utd clash in a mouth-watering Champions League quarter but tempers could flare in London.
Chelsea have lost just one of their last seven competitive matches against Manchester United but the pressure is on Carlo Ancelotti’s men to pick up another decent result as the pair meet at Stamford Bridge in the first leg of their Champions League quarter final tie.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s side are so strong at home that the Blues can’t bank on a positive outcome in the second leg and so they probably need to take a lead to Old Trafford to stand a chance of qualifying for the last four.
Bookies are unsure which of the two sides will reach the semi-final, Sportingbet pricing both at 17/20 but one or two firms lean slightly towards Ancelotti’s charges and United are therefore available at evens with Coral. Nevertheless, it’s hard not to feel that Chelsea’s chances hinge on a home win against a team with such a formidable record on their own patch.
Paddy Power make the Blues 6/5 to overcome Fergie’s troops in the first leg and after a recent 2-1 Premiership triumph over United they perhaps have the edge, especially as their own home form is pretty impressive.
However, the visitors have a habit of grinding out results on the road, Saturday’s victory from 2-0 down at West Ham a case in point, so we’d be reluctant to pile-in too heavily on Ancelotti’s troops.
Indeed, with a close affair seemingly inevitable, any result-related wagers are hard to get excited about even if United’s injury problems, particularly in defence, could play into Chelsea’s hands. Instead, it could be worth taking a punt on one or two players showing some indiscipline in the pressure-cooker atmosphere at Stamford Bridge.
Passions will be running high with so much at stake and one player not a stranger to losing his head is Chelsea striker Didier Drogba, who is 3/1 with Skybet to be shown a card at some stage. For United, Nemanja Vidic was sent off when the pair met recently in the league and the Serb, charged with holding together his side’s patched up defence, will be under a huge amount of pressure at Stamford Bridge where Unibet make him 21/10 to find himself in the referee’s notebook.
Meanwhile, those recalling the torrid time Fernando Torres gave to Vidic when the Spaniard was playing for Liverpool might fancy Coral’s 11/5 for the Blues striker to escape the United centre-back again to find the net, though punters would be well advised to wait for the team selection before risking that one.