Chelsea and Manchester United are in similar situations as the 2018-19 Premier League title picture comes into sharper focus. Each club has experienced too many losses to have a good shot to overtake Liverpool and Manchester City at the top of the EPL table.
That set-up could make each an even more dangerous opponent in tournament play. But BetOnline’s markets for the FA Cup meeting between the Blues and the Red Devils at Stamford Bridge on February 18th seem to only count Chelsea as truly formidable.
Betting has opened with a ML of (+119) on Chelsea to prevail and (+225) on the underdogs from United in a match with a (+215) Draw moneyline.
Chelsea and MUFC have not met in any opposition since October 20th at Stamford Bridge, a fixture that the Red Devils felt they should have won following Anthony Martial’s pair of goals to stake United to a 2-1 lead in the 2nd half.
In some ways, United’s showing on that day may have represented the last death knell for the Jose Mourinho era. Everyone could see that effort was mixed in the final days of the contentious coach’s reign. But in mid-autumn the Red Devils gave it everything they could, and took 5 yellow cards on 17 fouls in an atrocious battle that ended with Ross Barkley’s dramatic equalizer.
But if the Blues are so authoritative with Kepa in goal that even United cannot forgo its soul to prevail in a league match at Stamford Bridge, then why no Premier League title run for Chelsea in 2019?
No Striker Blues
Some supporters quarrel that it is the lack of a dominant striker at the front of the formation. While the club’s backline is loaded with world class talent like Marcos Alonso, and the midfield and forward lines are studded with names like Jorginho and Eden Hazard, it is true that there is no single superhuman goal-scorer like Salah or Harry Kane currently starring for Chelsea.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 5, 2019
There is more than one way to win an English football competition, and I am not convinced that the Blues are simply “a Richarlison” or “a Rashford” away from dominating the Premiership.
Kepa and the backline have exhibited cracks over the course of the season, but my word, can Chelsea keep opponents off the board. No one has scored a goal on Kepa since Ciaran Clark of Newcastle on January 12th.
Any attack that cannot score enough to win almost every match under those conditions has bigger issues than simply needing an expensive striker in the lineup. The Chelsea attack is healthy enough to have tallied 5 goals against Huddersfield on Saturday.
I will carry on defending Chelsea as a football club on the general principle that “not quite good enough for 1st place” can still be pretty flippin’ good. The Blues are still in the running for tops in the EFL Cup and the FA Cup, and those trophies would look great next to each other in 2019.
But I’m thinking that United is the attack that can lethally piece the Blue wall in the FA Cup, and it might be a good idea to bet on the Red Devils to do just that before the lines can change too much.
Manchester is Better…From the Goal Out
David de Gea is rounding into form between the posts for United, and although the squad’s backline still faces questions and doubt, attackers like Paul Pogba, Rashford, and Lukaku are playing 10 times better out from under the shadow of their ex- head coach.
While I have a hunch that United’s line-to-win will remain too long for the meeting at Stamford Bridge (so if you are reading this post the week before the match, you should still wholly look into it) the odds as they stand are almost a gimme. MUFC is a hot team and could be getting hotter if the Red Devils upset Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League. The maiden leg of the United-PSG meeting will be played on Tuesday 1/12, potentially giving United yet another shot of adrenaline if the tie goes well.
In the meantime, if Paris wins the leg at Old Trafford that could just make MUFC’s betting line for the Chelsea-United match even more of a big possible payoff.
The moneyline on United is just too sweet to pay no attention to in a match that could be a toss-up. Meanwhile, if Rashford (or Pogba) scores early then I am anticipating a fast-paced 2nd half with lots of attacking chances for both sides.
Take Manchester United (+225) at Stamford Bridge.
Kurt has authored close to 1000 stories covering football, soccer, basketball, baseball, ice hockey, prize-fighting and the Olympic Games. Kurt posted a 61% win rate on 200+ college and NFL gridiron picks last season. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.