Chelsea v Manchester United
Monday March 13
Live on BBC1 and Betfair Live Video
It doesn't matter what the Premier League throws at Chelsea they just keep on performing. Antonio Conte's side are unbeaten in seven top-flight matches since losing at Tottenham, only failing to win against Liverpool and Burnley. They've also won three FA Cup matches since that 2-0 loss at White Hart Lane - Peterborough, Brentford and Wolves beaten by a cumulative 10-1 scoreline.
With no European football on Chelsea's schedule this year, Conte has benefitted from a relatively light fixture list and corresponding luck with injuries. None of the first XI has suffered from any major injuries and there's a serene look about the club right now. Conte has his entire first team available to him for this fixture, and we expect him to field his strongest XI.
United are enjoying quite a season under Jose Mourinho. They've played an astonishing 45 games already - most recently in Russia on Thursday - have lifted the season's first silverware when beating Southampton in the EFL Cup Final and remain fighting on three fronts.
But they will go into this game without their key man. United's good form has largely been powered by the goals of evergreen Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the scorer of 26 across all competitions, but who misses this game due to suspension after receiving a ban for his elbow on Tyrone Mings last weekend.
Further bad news arrived on Sunday when it emerged that Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney will also all miss the game. So striking problems for Mourinho to address.
Chelsea have won 15 of their 16 home games in all competitions, and are clear favourites to win the match, trading at [1.92]. It must have been some time since United were as big as [4.8] to defeat the Blues. The draw is [3.55] to back.
I wouldn't oppose United lightly but there's a clear case to be made for the home side and the price is certainly big enough to justify an investment.
The Blues' stunning home record is impossible to ignore, they come into the game fresher, with all their first-teamers available while United miss this season's talisman. Having won a cup already this season and with a top four finish still attainable in the Premier League, Mourinho may well place the FA Cup pretty low on his list of objectives. United trade at [2.94] to win the Europa League, a tournament which offers a Champions League place should they lift the trophy.
I certainly think it'll be competitive but Chelsea should edge this. One Opta stat adds further support to a wager on the home team: Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 11 meetings with Manchester United in all competitions (W6 D5).
Over/Under 2.5 Goals
Unders is the clear favourite here, trading at [1.71], with overs [2.3] to back. That looks about right. The loss of Zlatan impacts United's goalscoring ability and they come up against a Chelsea defence that has conceded eight goals at Stamford Bridge in league games this season, and a further three in EFL and FA Cup fixtures.
On the flipside Chelsea have scored 47 in those games and are likely to be operating at full strength. And the league fixture between these two finished 4-0 to the Blues of course.
But on balance it's not a market where I can see a persuasive bet.
Chelsea's goals tend to come from either Diego Costa or Eden Hazard, but one man who may be worth a look is Pedro. Opta tell us that the Spaniard has scored four times and assisted a further two goals in Chelsea's FA Cup run so far. He also scored after 30 seconds against Manchester United in the Premier League in October.