ANYONE thinking Sir Alex Ferguson will allow his Manchester United side to let their foot off the gas against Chelsea has clearly forgotten the Scot’s combustible relationship with Sunday’s opposite number.
Rafael Benitez won four, drew once and lost eight times in his 13 league and cup meetings with Ferguson as Liverpool boss.
But their off-field clashes were just as memorable, not least Benitez’s infamous ‘facts’ attack on Ferguson in 2009.
The mind games continued on the Spaniard’s return to English football and under his watch at Chelsea the Blues fought back from 2-0 down at half-time at Old Trafford to earn an FA Cup replay, which they won 1-0.
I am sure that Benitez would happily take either of those results, however it is a game that I expect the newly crowned champions to win.
You don’t often get to back United at odds-against in front of their own fans and Coral’s 5/4 is well worth taking.
United have the best home record in the league and – despite also being eliminated by Chelsea in the League Cup – won the corresponding game in London 3-2 back in October.
Furthermore, they have only lost once at home to the Blues in the Premier League since 2005.
The end of an incredibly long season is in sight for Chelsea – it is 64 games and counting in all competitions after last night’s Europa League semi-final second leg against Basel – yet there is no question that their team will be tired, no matter how much Benitez rotates.
Chelsea’s pursuit of a top four place looks like it will go down to the wire so there is no questioning their motivation.
With every point crucial I expect them to look to keep it tight and have a feeling that it will be a cagey first half at least, before United’s superiority and rested limbs take advantage in the second period.
Coral go 19/10 for it to be goalless at half-time, but a better option might be the draw half-time, United full-time double result at 9/2 with the same firm.
Before the big game at Old Trafford, the Merseyside derby takes place at Anfield.
Everton know victory will assure successive finishes above their neighbours in the top flight for the first time since 1937.
It will be the least that the Toffees will want to end the campaign with. Their hopes of gatecrashing the Champions League places have all but gone after a wobble in form in recent weeks.
Everton have only won two of their last five and although the same is true of Liverpool, the Reds are unbeaten during the same period and have taken one more point.
Brendan Rodgers’ men made light of the long-term suspension of Luis Suarez last time out by demolishing Newcastle 6-0 at St James’s Park.
Like with United, it is always worth a look when Liverpool are odds-against at home.
They are available at 21/20 with Coral and I doubt that price will be around come kick-off on Sunday lunchtime.
Man United to beat Chelsea at 5/4 with Coral
Draw half-time / Man United full-time at 9/2 Coral
Liverpool to beat Everton at 21/20 with Coral