LONDON: Manchester United, realistically speaking, will not catch Chelsea this season despite a run of six wins in six league games which has vaulted them up the Premier League table and to within eight points of Jose Mourinho’s leaders and apparent champions-elect.
But ahead of United’s visit to Stamford Bridge on Saturday Daley Blind has cautioned that next season will be different. Next season United will have all guns firing from the first match and not spend three months adjusting to a new manager, a host of new players and a catalogue of disruptive injuries.
Blind is one of Van Gaal’s specific signings, brought in to provide some commitment and steel in defensive midfield. He has proved a perfect foil for Michael Carrick who is now running goalkeeper David De Gea close for United’s player of the season.
The Dutchman believes that next season United will be up at Chelsea’s level. He said: “United are a club who always have to be fighting for the title. We have improved a lot, we are still improving and we really are one team now.”
Chelsea have been winning despite not playing particularly well and are troubled by the hamstring injury which is keeping 19-goal Diego Costa sidelined. Deputies Loic Remy and Didier Drogba have managed only eight goals between them.
Thus United go to west London confident that they are the ‘form team’ after last weekend’s demolition of neighbours and champions Manchester City.
“That was a great feeling,” said Blind after a victory which ended the jinx created by City’s four previous successes in the Manchester derby, “and we know that other teams will have been watching it.”
A draw would suit Chelsea on Saturday, which may mean Ramires being preferred to start again in midfield rather than the fading Oscar.
The next weekend Chelsea go away to Arsenal but even drawing both games will then set them up for plain sailing all the way to the title.