By the time Chelsea kick off at Old Trafford against Manchester United on Sunday, their lead at the top of the Premier League table could be chopped down to just four points.
It makes this match, that’s been a little overlooked with so much midweek football to enjoy, an absolutely vital one. Tottenham Hotspur’s scintillating recent form has kept the Blues within range and should they win, as expected, against Bournemouth on Saturday lunchtime, then what’s been called an insurmountable advantage for Chelsea doesn’t look quite so secure anymore.
For United and their manager Jose Mourinho it’s also a crucial contest, even though their priorities look to have shifted from the top-four fight to the UEFA Europa League.
At the start of the weekend, the Red Devils are in fifth, only four points back on rivals Manchester City having played a game less and six points back on Liverpool, who have played two matches more. So perhaps it’d be unwise to give up on qualification for the Champions League via the traditional route quite yet.
It’s a massive match for Mourinho as well. The Portuguese’s pride would have been dented by the two losses to his former club so far this term, especially the 4-0 surrender earlier in the Premier League season. Mourinho will demand his players put in a committed display in front of their own fans.
For neutrals, a United win would be an ideal outcome, as three points for the Red Devils would keep them in the top four shakeup and Chelsea honest in the title race. But Antonio Conte’s Blues have proven themselves to be formidable opposition in the Premier League this term.
Where to find the game on US TV and streaming
Date: Sunday, April 16, 2017
Time: 11 a.m. (ET), 8 a.m. (PT)
US TV: NBCSN
US Streaming: NBC Sports App and fubo Premier (free 7-day trial)
There’s been a lot of negativity surrounding Manchester United’s Premier League form as of late, particularly on home soil, where they logged draws with Everton and West Bromwich Albion in their last two Old Trafford outings.
But they’re still clinging on to the coattails of those sides above them. Granted, they have some games in hand that need to be won, but Mourinho is a manager who knows how to get teams over the line when it comes to this point in the season. He’ll be hoping to do the same against his former employers on Sunday.