All posts by Tom Parker

Football Journalist covering a host of topics

THE PREMIER LEAGUE DEBUTANTS – WHO IMPRESSED?

The first week of Premier League fixtures has passed and we got a look in into some of the new talents that will be on offer during the season. In this article I’ll go over some of the more impressive debuts team by team.

Newcastle United – Jeff Hendrick and Callum Wilson

Newcastle have done some tidy business this summer, and two of their signings scored both goals in a comfortable win over West Ham United.

Hendrick was impressive all round with his work rate and passing from midfield, his efforts were rewarded with an emphatic strike to seal their win in the dying minutes. Callum Wilson caused issues with his forward runs and looked fairly decent up front with Andy Carroll.

His goal really showed off his poachers instinct and how crucial he could be for the Toon this season. Getting the first goal helped the team push on and he could be that man for them this season.

Arsenal – Willian and Gabriel Magalhaes

Wow. What a debut for these boys.Arsenal wanted some Brazilian flair and they certainly got it. Gabriel made a fairly slow start to the game, looking shaky on the ball and not full of confidence. He soon, however, grew into the game and even scored from a corner just after the break.

His defensive prowess shined through further as he made himself difficult to get past and was calm and composed in possession. He certainly looks value for money in Arteta’s system.

The catalyst to their goals against Fulham was of course Willian, who grabbed three assists in his first match as a Gunner. After making the switch from Chelsea on a free many fans questioned the decision, few probably would’ve held the same opinions after this game. The winger was unplayable and Arsenal fans will be hoping for more of the same.

Everton – Allan, Abdoulaye Doucoure, James Rodriguez

This midfield really could be something special for Everton this season. After all the issues they had in the middle of the park last year they could have really struck gold this time around.

Doucoure and Allan offered ways to frustrate Spurs and broke up play very well. Doucoure offered an outlet throughout the pitch with a more box to box display, whilst Allan was superb as a defensive anchor.

The team looked more solid as a unit with them playing and with their technical ability (very underrated aspects of their game) they were able to transition with greater effect.

The biggest name was of course James Rodriguez. A player Everton wouldn’t have dreamed of signing five/six years ago, but he was certainly what they’d hoped for. Technically gifted and fantastic in possession, his vision and talent was clear to see – he was even close to getting a goal on a couple of occasions.

Carlo Ancelotti looks to have built an impressive first team, whether they have the depth to compete is yet to be seen.

Leicester City – Timothy Castagne

Castagne was superb at Atalanta last season, and he made a great start in the Premier League too as he contributed heavily to their 3-0 win over West Brom.

Castagne scored the opening goal of the game and was a threat throughout the game offering a great outlet from full-back. He looks like a player that will adapt well to the league and is an exciting addition to what is a talented attacking Leicester team.

Wolves – Fernando Marcal

Fernando Marcal was part of the Lyon team that impressed so much in the Champions League last season, and his defensive rashness made it a strange choice for Nuno to start him at Left-wing-back. He played best at the left of a back three last season.

The Brazilian gave an assured and defensively solid performance and his side strolled to a 2-0 win over Sheffield United. With Jonny out injured Wolves would’ve been reassured with this performance, and Marcal’s experience could prove very important in such a young side.

Chelsea – Timo Werner

The hype surrounding Timo Werner has been no secret, the striker was superb during his time at RB Leipzig and plenty of fans are excited to see him perform in the Premier League.

Whilst he didn’t score on debut, he was lively and caused Brighton all sorts of issues with his pressing and direct runs in between their centre- backs.

He even won the penalty that Jorghino scored to give them the lead, and continued to look a constant threat. He’ll be a useful player to press teams back as his pace will force opponents to take caution. Out of the debutants he was the real bright spark as Kai Havertz flattered to deceive.

He’ll come good in front of goal and this was a good start for him.

Sheffield united vs wolves: match preview

We are back! Almost as soon as last season ended – a new one begins, and for Sheffield United and Wolves it starts off with a tough match. Both managers are always keen to press forward but every game is a tough game in the Premier League – so expect no complacency here.

It’s well known that Chris Wilder is a big fan of Nuno Espirito Santo and vice versa – maybe being successful with promoted clubs has given them a unique bond – we’ll never know.

What we do know is both squads have seen exciting reinforcements and considering how close their games were last season, we can probably expect more of the same.

Sheffield United have been savvy in the market, the most high profile additions being goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale to replace Dean Henderson and the promising double signing of fullbacks Max Lowe and Jayden Bogle from Derby County. Ethan Ampadu has also been brought in on loan from Chelsea after the Welshman enjoyed a decent spell at Champions League semi-finalists RB Leipzig.

Wolves were very slow to get going in the market with many fans wondering if the threadbare squad would be supplemented for the upcoming season. The sale of Matt Doherty to Spurs could have a huge impact and with no replacement signed yet, that could be an area Sheffield United target.

They have however brought in some fantastic players, smashing their club record on 18-year-old striker Fabio Silva from Porto. The Portuguese contingent increased with the signing of 20-year-old attacking midfielder Vitor Ferreira ( AKA Vitinha) from the same club and the experienced Fernando Marçal from another Champions League semi-finalist in Lyon.

With both sides competing well last season and having strengthened, you can expect a close fought but entertaining game.

Match Preview/Prediction

Nuno has made it no secret over the past week that he wants his team to dominate and score more in matches, so we may see the progression into a new style of play in this match.

However, Nuno is a coach that implements his ideas over an extended period of time, so don’t expect any drastic changes.

Chris Wilder will likely stick to the system, which brought him great success and plaudits during the last campaign. Both managers will aim to nullify each other and press each backline.

With the two sides being comfortable in possession and fluid in transition, we can expect to see a game tightly fought and decided on clinical counter-attacks. The first half will probably a tight affair but we could expect to see a more expansive second.

Both sides have shown great levels of fitness (in particular Wolves) so this one could go down to the wire, similarly to their last encounter which Sheffield United won in the last minute.

If Wolves’ front three is on form we could see them edge the game. Daniel Podence, Diogo Jota and Adama Traore all offer a great threat, and with Traore likely to play RWB we could see them hold a huge threat going forward. All three, alongside Raul Jimenez, could ask serious questions of the Sheffield United backline.

Sheffield United caused this Wolves team problems with their energy and physicality last time and you could see them doing so again. This current Wolves squad still lacks a real physical presence in midfield. The midfield battle will prove crucial in a game that will rely on recycling possession and quick transition play.

Both sides will be confident in making a positive start to the season and you can easily see it being a close fought contest.

Match Prediction: Sheff Utd 1-1 Wolves

Leeds United: the return of one of greats – Part 1

Leeds United have finally returned to the Premier League after a 16 year absence. The club were a force in the Premier League and in Europe in 60’s and early 70’s, as well as the late 90’s and at the beginning of the new century.

However a financial implosion caused them to lose their success and were relegated in the 03/04 Premier League season. They even spent time in the 3rd tier of English football.

They have spent 16 years fighting to get back into the big time and have come close over the past few season, missing out on play-off or automatic promotion.

With the club now well-backed by their owners, led by an influential coach and owners of a talented and youthful squad – we could see a real rise to glory for this famous club.

Whilst getting ahead of themselves is never good (look and Fulham and Aston Villa over recent seasons) if the recruitment is any good this summer we could see another promoted side compete for a top-half finish.

In this two-part article I’ll take a brief look at the history of the club, and review the newly finished campaign. I’ll also take a look at the hopes the club has for their fight in the Premier League.

Leeds United – The History

We’re always told to focus on the present – the ‘now’. In the case of Leeds United , however, it’s important for those who don’t know to look at their history within English football.

Their first taste of footballing success was from the Don Revie era. Having created a side that was voted in the top 50 greatest footballing teams by Total Sport Magazine, he is still one of if not Leeds’ most successful manager.

Revie took over the club in 1961 when they were fighting relegation in the 2nd division of the English football League. A win on the final game of the season kept them up.

Revie then implemented a new youth policy and a change of kit colour to an all-white strip – similarly to Real Madrid, and Leeds soon won promotion to the First Division in 1963-64.

In their first campaign in the top flight they finished second to Manchester United due to only goal difference. They also achieved a place in the FA Cup final, however they lost 2-1 to Liverpool after extra time.

The following season, the club again finished second but reached the semi-finals of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup (the original Europa League). They lost over two legs to Real Zaragoza, despite Revie asking the fire brigade to flood the pitch at Elland Road for the replay (sneaky tactics).

They struggled domestically again the next season finishing 4th, but they did reach the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup final – however they lost to Dinamo Zagreb.

They won their first major domestic trophy under Revie in the 1967-68 season, beating Arsenal 1-0 in the League Cup final. They also reached a second successive Inter-Cities Fairs Cup final against Hungarian team Ferencvarosi.

Leeds won the first leg 1–0, and a month later defended their lead with a 0–0 draw in Budapest. They were finally getting silverware and the club pushed on from there.

Revie left the club in 1974. In his 13 years in charge, Revie guided Leeds to two First Division titles, one FA Cup, one League Cup, two Inter-Cities Fairs Cups, one Football League Second Division title and one Charity Shield.

He also took them to three more FA Cup Finals, two more FA Cup Semi-finals, one more Inter-Cities Fairs Cup Final and one Inter-Cities Fairs Cup Semi-final.

Alongside this he also reached one European Cup Winners’ Cup Final and one European Cup Semi-final. The team also finished second in the First Division five times, third once and fourth twice.

Post-Don Revie struggles and the Wilkinson revival

The subsequent era was a complete farce as they had huge recruitment issues and sacked several coaches (Brian Clough, Jimmy Armfield, Jimmy Anderson, Allan Clarke) as they slipped down the league and were eventually relegated in the 1981-82 season.

The closest they got to promotion back to the top flight was in the 1986-87 season where they lost the play-off final to Charlton under the guidance of former Revie teammate Billy Bremner.

Howard Wilkinson took over the reigns from Bremner in October 1988. They avoided relegation to the 3rd tier, and with the signing of Gordon Strachan they were promoted back into the top flight in the 1989-90 season.

Under Wilkinson Leeds finished fourth in the following first division campaign, and in the 1991-92 season they won the title of the last ever Division one as the top tier, as the next season it was rebranded into what we know now as the ‘Premier League’.

After that though it was more failure as they finished no higher than 13th in the League, underperformed in Europe and the domestic cups. Wilkinson had his contract terminated in the 96-97 season.

The real change from his time at the club was the him and Paul Hart’s work on the youth system and academy – which still produces fantastic young players.

The Highs before the impending lows

George Graham was appointed as his replacement at the start of the 1997-98 season. Using young players from their youth cup winning team and some good signings, he guided them into the UEFA Cup places (again – the Europa League of old). Despite the success Graham left to manage Tottenham Hotspur in October 1988.

Graham was replaced by his assistant David O’Leary and under him Leeds saw some great success. Under O’Leary Leeds never finished outside the top five in the new Premier League. They also achieved qualification for both the UEFA Cup and the UEFA Champions League -enjoying cup runs to the semi-finals in both tournaments. 

However their success was marred by off the field antics, with Jonathan Woodgate and Lee Bowyer involved with an attack on an Asian student. The court case took nearly 2 years to resolve. Bowyer escaped a charge but Woodgate was sentenced to community service.

The performances on the field soon plummeted as Leeds went into Financial Implosion. Under Peter Ridsdale they had taken out multiple loans to pay for signings. These were made under the assumption they would stay in the Champions League.

Once they failed to qualify two seasons in a row they couldn’t repay the loans and had to sell players to ease the financial tension. What followed was a fall out between O’leary and Ridsdale, Terry Venables coming in and being sacked after a terrible run of form, and Peter Reid saving them – only to be relegated the next season (2003/04).

In the Championship, Leeds sold their entire squad and had to rebuild using loans and free agents due to the lack of money. They sold the club to Ken Bates as Ridsdale had stepped down, and appointed Peter Reid’s assistant Kevin Blackwell as head coach.

The club didn’t get close to promotion until the 2005/06 season, where they lost the Championship Play-off final to Watford 3-0. After Blackwell had started fairly well with a mid-table and then Play-off reaching season – the loss in the final took its toll and results dropped massively the following season.

With a poor pre-season and difficult start to the 2006/07 campaign – Blackwell was sacked. With Leeds firmly in a relegation battle John Carver was put in place, but his tenure was also unsuccessful and he was later sacked – replaced by Dennis Wise.

The performances didn’t improve under the ex-Chelsea player, and with them seemingly going down they were then placed into administration. The 10 point deduction that followed doomed the club to the third tier of English football. This was the first time the club had dropped below the second tier.

The League One rebuild

During July 2007, Leeds almost faced the possibility of not being allowed to begin their next campaign as HMRC (HM Revenue and Customs) placed a legal challenge against them due to unpaid taxes. If they had still been in administration their season wouldn’t have been cleared.

Ken Bates bought the club back off administrators KPMG and HRMC weren’t in agreement with the deal. Despite the takeover being sanctioned the Football League imposed a 15 point sanction due to issues with administration CV.

Despite this deduction, Wise and his assistant Gus Poyet lead Leeds towards a play-off before they left for Newcastle and Tottenham respectively.

Gary McAllister was appointed in January 2008 and he lead them to the Play-off final, however they lost narrowly to Doncaster Rovers.

Simon Grayson came in to replace him, and the club achieved a Play-off spot once again – but were beaten in the semi-finals by Millwall.

The 2009/10 season saw them have their best ever start to a campaign and also knock bitter rivals Manchester United out of the FA Cup. Despite an awful second half of the season (7 points from 24) they went up as runners-up.

Championship return and severe ownership issues

Leeds returned to the Championship in 2010 with renewed vigour, and spent a good part of the season in the play-off race. However, they faltered towards the end of the campaign and finished 7th – a place outside the play-offs. This was to become a theme for the club.

What followed was a succession of botched ownerships and average campaigns. In May 2011, Ken Bates announced he’d taken 100% control of the club.

Protests against this were dismissed, however Bates sold the 100% stake of the club to a Middle-East private equity group (GFH Capital) in December 2012.

In February 2012 Grayson was sacked and replaced by Neil Warnock, with his contract due to last until the end of the 2012/13 season. The following campaign saw them perform well in the domestic cups but also very poorly in the league.

Warnock left the club in April 2013 and Brian McDermott guided them to safety. Ken Bates then stepped down as chairman.

Ownership issues then ensued: In January 2014, Sport Capital (a consortium involving the managing director of Leeds United’s main sponsors, Enterprise Insurance, Andrew Flowers) attempted to purchase a 75% stake in the club.

On the 30th January, Sport Capital’s takeover failed due to a lack of “financial backing”, it was also shown that GFH had invited a rivalling bid from Massimo Cellino, who owned Cagliari at the time, whilst agreements were being finalised.

In the backdrop of all the commotion, Brian McDermott was sacked by Cellino’s lawyer – despite the Italian not even owning the club. The decision was overruled due to this fact.

After agreeing a purchase in February that year, the Football League stopped the deal in March due to Celino having issues with the Italian court.

Leed’s season took a hug dip as they went from fighting for the play-offs to fighting relegation. They stayed up comfortably after a strong end to the campaign but Brian McDermott resigned.

The Cellino Circus

Despite the deal being blocked in March, Cellino formed a successful appeal and gained ownership in April 2014. The circus that followed was disturbingly laughable.

The confusing appointment of the unknown Dave Hockaday lasted only 70 days before he was replaced by Darko Milanic in September 2014. He only lasted until October and was replaced by Neil Redfearn on the 1st November.

As if things couldn’t get much worse than 3 head coaches in around 5 months – Cellino was then disqualified in December that year after the Football League discovered documents detailing his issues with tax evasion. This ban was to continue until April 2015, however Cellino stated he would not return to the club once the ban had ended.

Redfearn was replaced by Uwe Rosler after the 2014/15 season ended, however Rosler, like others, left early and Steve Evans took over the reigns.

In October 2015 Cellion agreed a deal with Leeds Fans United to sell his majority stake, however he went back on his promise.

After Steve Evans had failed to inspire the team to push up the table, he was replaced by Garry Monk in June 2016.

The 2016/17 campaign played out in similar fashion to pervious seasons – the phrase “Leeds are falling apart again” rang out as they missed out on the play-offs with a poor run of form. They were in the play-off places for the majority of the season.

The Radrizzani Era

The change then began at the club when Andrea Radrizzani purchased a 50% stake of in January 2017. In May 2017 he announced a full purchase of the club.

Radrizzani made several positive changes to the club, repurchasing Elland Road for the first time since 2004 and forming the women’s team.

Monk resigned two days after the takeover, and Tomas Christiansen replaced him. With the club sitting in 10thin February, he was sacked and replaced by Paul Heckingbottom – just days after the coach had signed a new contract at rivals Barnsley.

On 24 May 2018, Leeds announced that 49ers Enterprises had bought shares in the club to become a minority investor.

In June 2018 Heckingbottom was sacked after just 4 months. This proved to be the best decision Radrizzani made as he then appointed the highly coveted Marcelo Bielsa.

With Bielsa appointed and renewed vigour the club made a magnificent start to the season and were pushing for automatic promotion. Yet again a poor end to the season mean they dropped out of the automatic promotion places.

Having dropped into the play-offs, they lost over two legs to Derby with another season condemned to the Championship.

The frustration led into the next campaign – one which will be covered in the next part of this story…

The Watford managerial merry-go-round continues

The sacking of Nigel Pearson was a huge surprise in terms of timing – however very few fans were surprised it happened, considering Watford’s past record.

We all know by now how they club have dismissed coach after coach, with none of them lasting over a year. The only exception is Malky Mackay who led to club from June 2009 to June 2011.

An astonishing trend

Nigel Pearson is unfortunately just one name in a list of victims to feel the wrath of the Watford board. Ever since Mackay left in June 2011 they have been through 11 managers (not including Quique Sanchez Flores twice) and that trend seems to be continuing.

Sean Dyche, Gianfranco Zola, Giuseppe Sannino, Oscar Garcia Sunyent, Billy McKinlay, Slavisa Jokanovic, Quique Sanchez Flores, Walter Mazzari, Marco Silva, Javi Gracia and finally Nigel Pearson.

Sunyent unfortunately had to resign due to medical reasons, however, it doesn’t stop this list being thoroughly astonishing.

Sannino, Sunyent, McKinlay, Jokanovic were all coaching the team between August and October 2014 – a crazy four head coaches in the space of five weeks. Jokanovic was signed on a short term contract and after finishing 2nd in the Championship, he failed to agree a new deal and was replaced with Quique Sanchez Flores.

Flores guided them to a mid-table finish and also took them to an FA Cup semi final. He was sacked at the end of the season and replaced by Walter Mazzarri. He was then sacked after finishing 17th and was replaced by the promising Marco Silva.

Marco Silva had a lot of hype surrounding him at the time after almost keeping Hull City up. This was supposed to be a new era for the club.

After a good start to the campaign he was linked with the Everton job. During this period and in the subsequent two months, the team’s performances became increasingly poor (five points from 30 in 10 Premier League matches), with fans blaming his loss of focus with the club as putting them at risk of relegation.

He was then sacked in January 2018 and the circus continued. Next came Javi Gracia  and with that Watford’s most successful appointment to date. Gracia guided them to safety in the second half of the season and remained for the beginning of the next one (18/19).

In that season they eventually finished 11th but were pushing for a European place for large parts of the campaign. They also reached only their second FA Cup final in history but were smashed 6-0 by Manchester City. He was sacked in September 2019 after a terrible start to the campaign.

The season didn’t get any easier when Quique Sanchez Flores rejoined and failed to lift the team’s form – lasting a measly 10 matches.

This is where Pearson comes in. He managed to completely turn the team’s fortunes around. They were rock bottom with zero confidence and Pearson managed to guide them out of the relegation zone.

Along the way they of course ended Liverpool’s hope of an invincibles season with a stunning 3-0 victory. They were seemingly set to be safe from relegation, three points above the relegation places. However, he was sacked with two games to go and with results going against the club, they now sit inside the bottom three on goal difference.

What now for Watford?

Aston Villa pulled off their result of the season as they beat Arsenal 1-0 to force the Hornets back into relegation peril. With their 4-0 defeat to Manchester City ( a team they have an awful record against) they now have to get a result against Arsenal too and hope Villa lose to West Ham – who are already pretty much safe.

Pearson’s sacking caused plenty of outrage between neutrals and Watford fans. His record of seven wins, five draws and 10 defeats from 22 games was very decent considering how the team were playing before he took over.

Twitter was awash with “they deserve to go down for that” messages aimed at the club. As Premier League fans we have all become accustomed to this constant cycle of sackings – but it is something that fans don’t agree with.

According to Sky Sports:

A “frank exchange of views” between Nigel Pearson and Watford owner Gino Pozzo after Friday’s defeat to West Ham was the catalyst that led to the head coach’s sacking.

Concerns over team selection, substitutions and the team’s performances since the Premier League returned to action had already eaten away at relations between Pearson and Pozzo, along with his technical director Filippo Giraldi.

It is understood Pearson still maintained support among a group of players in the Watford dressing room.

However, despite breathing life into Watford’s troubled season – they were bottom of the league, with just one win from 15 games when he arrived – some players were less supportive.

The owners held serious reservations in particular about their team’s first-half performances, with Watford failing to score the first goal in all seven games since lockdown.

Survival seems very difficult for a club who now need, more than ever, a bit of luck and good fortune to smile upon them. Is this karma for the growing number of managerial casualties? Or just a message that constant change can damage a club eventually?

Whatever it is, Watford Football Club are in danger of the drop, and the last weekend of the Premier League will prove hugely significant for the clubs future.

For more reaction to Nigel Pearson’s sacking see our latest YouTube video below:

FA cup semi-final previews

The FA cup returns this weekend with an exciting round of fixtures set in store. The fixtures are the competition’s most competitive final rounds in the last few years.

The North side of London and Manchester will be competing for glory as Arsenal face off against Manchester City and Manchester United play Chelsea.

I give my thoughts on both fixtures as an exciting weekend of football awaits.

Arsenal vs Manchester City

Well this one could be predictable…

After a torrid return to football, Arsenal have looked much improved since their defeat to Brighton and despite a 2-1 loss to Spurs, they will go into this game with decent spirits.

They have looked more resolute in defence overall, a mistake for Tottenham’s opener can’t be forgotten. Ultimately, you would expect Manchester City to tear them apart much akin to the match played last month.

Pep Guardiola’s side have been rather inconsistent with their results, smashing Burnley and Liverpool but losing to Southampton and Chelsea – in both games they looked fairly shaky in defence.

Having said that, Guardiola has an imperious record when it comes to the domestic cup competitions. The Citizens have won eight out of a possible nine trophies (including Community Shields). They have also only lost one game at Wembley under Guardiola – although it was to Arsenal.

Such a record cannot be understated considering the venue and Gunner’s recent record against Manchester City makes for grim viewing for Arsenal fans.

The last time Arsenal won was in the 2017 FA Cup semi-final. Since then, they have played seven times – with City winning all of them and scoring three goals in six of those matches. They’ve also only conceded twice.

While Arsenal look improved under Mikel Arteta, the quality City possess is simply too much for this current crop of players for the red side of North London. I will expect them to put up a spirited fight but Manchester City’s near faultless record will continue.

Bukayo Saka offers them a great outlet and being potentially put up against an inconsistent Benjamin Mendy could be an interesting battle. City’s forward options should have no issues against Arsenal’s shaky defence.

David Luiz and Sead Kolasinac had a poor game against Spurs and they will be in trouble against much better opposition. Midfield also remains an area of question for Arsenal, coming up against Kevin De Bruyne, Phil Foden, Fernandinho, etc. will hopefully make for entertaining viewing from a neutral standpoint.

Arsenal will be boosted after their impressive win against champions Liverpool, but their poor record will stand true with this fixture.

Score Prediction: Arsenal 0-2 Manchester City

Manchester United vs Chelsea

United are coming into this game in terrific form, despite dropping points against Southampton they’ve scored goals for fun and at times looked defensively resolute.

Chelsea have been in decent form too but have shown plenty of inconsistency, losing to West Ham and Sheffield United. They look weak at times and can struggle in front of goal, whilst their midfield hasn’t been as effective as before.

Their options in attack are strong too, Christian Pulisic has been in inspired form since the restart. Hakim Ziyech is training with the club but isn’t allowed to take part in the remaining fixtures.

Manchester United are also gifted in attack, they have one of the most in form front threes in Europe and a brilliant midfield duo in Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes. Chelsea have shown fragility in defence so you could see United causing them plenty of problems.

Chelsea, like Arsenal, don’t have a great record against their opponents, in fact the last time they beat United was the 2018 FA Cup final. A very odd similar set of circumstances.

Since then, they’ve lost four out of six meetings – drawing the other two. They’ve actually lost their last three encounters, with an aggregate score of 8-1.

Frank Lampard will see this as the best chance of silverware this season. Chelsea are all but out of the Champions League, so this remains their only hope of domestic or European success.

Ole Gunnar Solskjær does have the option of the Europa League but I’m sure another trophy to fight for would be ideal to try and get United back to the force they were.

This game is huge for both clubs and managers, so should make for a tense contest. Both sides need silverware and their managers need some success to give themselves more time and improve their reputation.

With the fight for the Champions League places approaching a tense finish, this result could give the winner a huge mental edge when it comes to ending the season on a high.

I think United’s recent record and current form will get them through this game – although it will be very close.

Score Prediction: Manchester United 2-1 Chelsea