After a near-perfect performance in the UEFA Champions League against Barcelona at Stamford BridgeÂ on Tuesday, Chelsea willÂ on SundayÂ be hoping to put up another scintillating show on as they visit Old Trafford against Manchester United. Both sides hope to cement their top-four position. To add spice to the epic battle is the animosity between the two managers-Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte as both are expected to continue their snobbish showdown
Chelsea are focused on extending their recent positive run when they travel to face Manchester United in the Premier LeagueÂ on Sunday, the London outfit’s defender Cesar Azpilicueta has said.
After consecutive league defeats by Watford and Bournemouth, Chelsea have bounced back with a win over West Bromwich Albion, an FA Cup victory against Hull City and a 1-1 draw with Barcelona in first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.
Chelsea are fourth in the standings, three points behind second-placed United, as the race to secure a top-four finish heats up with 11 games left in the campaign.
“After two tough defeats a few weeks ago the team responded with two wins. Against Barcelona it was also a great performance from the team, nearly perfect. Now we have a tough gameÂ on SundayÂ and we have to turn our heads to the next target, the Premier League, and try to get as high as possible. At the moment, we are getting closer and closer to the end of the season, so we have to get the points,” Azpilicueta told the club’s website.
Conte and Mourinho have traded poisonous barbs this season, culminating in the pair saying they felt “contempt” for each other.
The feud started when the United boss said he did not need to “act like a clown” on the touchline, a comment perceived to be aimed at the animated Conte, who responded by claiming Mourinho must have “demenza senile” â€“ senile dementia.
When Mourinho then appeared to allude to a suspension Conte served in relation to match-fixing, the Italian, who was later cleared of any wrongdoing on that issue, responded by accusing his rival of being “fake” and “a little man”.
United recently appeared secure in second place in the Premier League, albeit a distant second to Manchester City, but two defeats in three games leave Mourinho’s side looking vulnerable with matches against four of the top six sides still to come, including Chelsea in fourth spot.
After Manchester United were held to a 0-0 draw at home by Sevilla inÂ WednesdayÂ nightâ€™s Champions League Round of 16 first leg, attention is now shifted to Old Trafford as they host Chelsea in the Premier League.
Mourinhoâ€™s side begin the weekend in 2nd place, 16 points behind rivals- Manchester City. Still, United boast the 2nd best record at home this season, and have conceded by far the fewest number of goals at home.
Chelsea drew 1-1 with Barcelona in their midweek Champions league clash. Willian opened the scoring at Stamford Bridge before Lionel Messi equalised. The Blues are 4th in the table but have Tottenham hot on their heels.
Liverpool and Man City are the only sides to take more points away from home than Chelsea this season. Antonio Conteâ€™s side also hold the second best defensive away record.
A win for Chelsea would see them move level on points with Man United, although it is likely that the Red Devils would still have a superior goal difference.
Alvaro Morata scored the only goal of the game when the sides met at Stamford Bridge in November.
However, Chelsea midfielder, Willian is good friends with former manager Mourinho but will be focused solely on winning when he faces the Portuguese boss’ Manchester United team in the Premier LeagueÂ on Sunday.
The Brazil international joined Chelsea in 2013 under Mourinho, who was sackedÂ two years laterÂ before taking over at United in 2016.
The 29-year-old Willian has scored four goals and provided seven assists in 26 league appearances for Chelsea this campaign and Antonio Conte’s team sit three points behind second-placed Manchester United in fourth position.
“He (Mourinho) is my friend. I had a great time with him, but I am at Chelsea and he is now at Manchester United,” Willian told British media.
“They are difficult games. It is totally different to play in the Premier League to the Champions League. I think we can stay at this level and we can go to Old TraffordÂ on SundayÂ and play another great game.”
Willian believes his teammates must emulate their performance against Barcelona if they are to beat United and leaders Manchester City.
“We have to play in a similar way. Against Manchester United, I think we can do a great job,” Willian added.
“Against Manchester City, it will be like the game against Barcelona – they like to have the ball. We have to stay compact and use the same plan as we used against Barcelona.”
With City holding a seemingly insurmountable 16-point lead atop the standings, United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal are battling to secure a top-four finish with 11 games remaining.
Following the trip to Old Trafford, Chelsea face City and Crystal Palace before the return leg against Barcelona onÂ March 14.