Manic Mondays - West Ham and Manchester United will pose stern test of Chelsea's credentials.
Chelsea travel to West Ham on Monday night in the Premier League followed by Manchester United at home the following Monday in the F...
Chelsea travel to West Ham on Monday night in the Premier League followed by Manchester United at home the following Monday in the FA Cup.
Top of the Premier League and through to the Quarter-Finals of the FA Cup, Chelsea are in a rich vein of form and are considered by many as favourites to win both competitions at this stage of the season. However, these two next games will provide a real test of character of Antonio Conte’s team.
You couldn’t ask for tougher opponents in my view at this stage of the season with West Ham having already beaten us in the League Cup earlier in the season at the London Stadium, and Manchester United on their impressive unbeaten run with the addition of the League Cup this weekend beating Southampton in the final.
The London Stadium is no easy place to go to now compared to earlier in the year. West Ham found it difficult to adjust to their new home and couldn’t buy a win. Now, their fortunes have changed and despite the sale of Dimitri Payet, they have picked themselves up and look strong again.
OK, they beat us earlier in the season but that was with a much changed side from our regular starting eleven and without question Antonio Conte will look to field a full strength side in this one. Whether or not that will or will not include Cesc Fabregas is up for debate after an excellent performance from the man with the “magic hat” on Saturday against Swansea. My opinion is that he will drop to the bench with Nemanja Matic coming in to the side to protect the back three next to the fantastic N’Golo Kante.
We have the potential to beat West Ham and knowing how well we can play this season, I am more than confident that we will pose them plenty of problems to win the game. A victory would maintain our lead no matter what anyone else does this weekend before we play on Monday.
The following Monday night Chelsea take on Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United at Stamford Bridge in the FA Cup quarter-final and it’s one I cannot wait for. You can only be impressed with their unbeaten run and the fact that they have won the first silverware available this season by beating Southampton in the League Cup final.
United take on Bournemouth in this Saturday’s lunchtime kick off at Old Trafford and no disrespect to the side from the south coast but on paper and on current form you would bet money on the outcome being a home win.
This would extend their current unbeaten run as they head to Rostov in the Europa League next Thursday and I would expect Jose Mourinho to make plenty of changes to keep his side fresh for the Chelsea game three days later. He is already making up his excuses.
It’s fair to say that Chelsea dismantled Manchester United 4-0 earlier in the season and we shouldn’t expect the same from our next encounter. Since then, Mourinho has settled on the formation and for the most part the players he wants in his system week in, week out.
You could also say the same for Chelsea though looking at how the Chelsea players have grown into the new 3-4-3 formation with an argument being that we are playing much better now. It will be interesting to see how Mourinho sets his side up to counter the Chelsea attacking threat as he looks to out-smart Antonio Conte.
Chelsea are on the up, playing fantastically well going forward with one or two areas to improve at the back, but not losing games. Looking at West Ham and at Manchester united, Chelsea have far more options in attacking areas than both sides and that could prove to be decisive.
One thing is for sure, for two weeks running, prepare yourselves for a couple of manic Mondays!