Jose Mourinho does battle with his former employers Chelsea on Sunday afternoon, looking to avenge defeats in two explosive meetings this season.
Ahead of the Old Trafford clash, the Manchester United manager is playing down the importance of the game, insisting that he is treating it the same as any other game.
United have gone 20 league games unbeaten, however too many of these have been draws, which ended any talk of a title challenge.
They last tasted defeat in the Premier League in the reverse fixture against Antonio Conte’s Chelsea, which ended 4-0 and was marred by Mourinho accusing Conte of ‘humiliating’ United with his over-exuberant goal celebrations.
The two sides also clashed in the FA Cup Quarter Finals, with Chelsea again emerging victorious. This time, Chelsea fans branded Mourinho ‘Judas’ despite the Special One leading them to past glories. The 54-year-old responded by holding up three fingers to represent the three titles he won at Chelsea and later said: ‘Until the moment they have a manager that wins four Premier Leagues for them, I’m the No.1. Until then, Judas is No.1.
Asked on Thursday night if his third meeting of the season with Chelsea would be just as emotional, Mourinho replied: ‘You say that word emotion. For me, it is just a game. One more game. No difference for me, not at all.
Mourinho went on to acknowledge that Chelsea have become very hard to beat under Conte.
‘First of all, some guys are fresh, some guys are tired – that’s very important in football,’ he added as United prepare to play again less than three days after their Europa League tie against Anderlecht in Belgium.
‘But, for some reason, they are top of the league. It’s not just because they are fresh. It’s also because they have individual quality and they have collective quality.
‘They have a certain style of play, they stick to it, they do it very well. Not every team defends with 11 players, and they defend with 11 players.
‘Not every team is so objective in their counter attacks. They are very objective in the counter-attack and they have individual players out of the context of the game that can also resolve the problems. So they are a very strong team.’
Chelsea have become a bogey side for United in recent years. The Red Devils have not beaten Chelsea in their last 12 meetings, a run stretching back to 2012.
By Steve Osborne @BlizzardSteve75