It’s second v fourth on Sunday as Manchester United host Chelsea in what remains one of the biggest fixtures in the Premier League calendar.
And while only three points separate the sides right now, premierleague.com statistics suggest Jose Mourinho’s men have the edge over Antonio Conte’s Blues…
THE HEADLINE STATS
At the most basic level we have more points (56 to 53), scored more goals (51 to 49) and conceded fewer (19 to 23) than Chelsea. At home we've netted 29 goals and conceded five, while away Chelsea have scored 25 and conceded 13. And while the west London outfit once boasted a strong record at Old Trafford, they have in fact only one won of their last seven league games here, and scored only one goal in their last four visits.
“He’s a fantastic goalkeeper and it’s not possible for a team to be successful without a fantastic goalkeeper,”Jose told MUTV on Friday. We’re all of the opinion that David De Gea is the best stopper in the league, if not the world – his display against Sevilla in midweek underlined that. But how does he compare to Thibaut Courtois, another pretender to that crown? Well, the Spaniard has kept a league-high 15 clean sheets to Courtois’ 13 and made 87 saves to the Belgian’s 52. Our no.1 has proved he can turn defence into attack, too, producing 202 accurate long balls to Courtois’ 136.
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Chris Smalling and Phil Jones have more than played their part when chosen as United’s centre-back pairing in the league this season. Looking at the key defensive statistics, Chris has won 69 aerial battles and Phil 53, comfortably more than Chelsea’s Gary Cahill (50) and Antonio Rudiger (47). Meanwhile, Jones has made an impressive 121 clearances and Smalling 111, with Chelsea’s Rudiger and Andreas Christensen on 73 and 72 respectively.
The battle between former Blues midfielder Nemanja Matic and N’Golo Kante could be a key factor in deciding the outcome on Sunday, and most of the stats are in our man’s favour. Matic has made 51 interceptions to Kante’s 49, made 1,901 passes (Kante’s on 1,541) and dwarfs his vaunted rival when it comes to aerial battles won (47 to 14). The Serbian is also ahead on clearances (46 to 20) and duels won (147 to 133).
Romelu Lukaku is United’s leading marksman this season with 21 goals in all competitions (12 in the league) and Mourinho insisted on Friday he has no worries about him in the big games.
“Twenty-one goals is not bad at all and I don't analyse the players' performances the same way you do,”he told reporters.
“I have other points of analysis and I'm happy with Romelu's performances, even when he doesn't score goals.”Chelsea’s focal point in attack, Alvaro Morata, has 10 league goals to his name this term, but none so far in 2018. And Red Rom’s in the ascendency in other areas, too: shots (71 to 61), shots on target (33 to 27), passes (571 to 424), big chances created (5 to 3) and crosses (25 to 16). That illustrates Jose’s point pretty well!