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Nic Ladds 10th Jan 2009 - 4:31

Red for Ronny would have Scolari smiling

Alex Ferguson and Phil Scolari know that this match will have a massive impact on their title aspirations as 5/4 Manchester United take on 5/2 Chelsea.

This is always one of the most eagerly anticipated matches of the season and odds of 2/1 about the draw will be popular seeing as Man Utd haven't lost at home and Chelsea haven't lost away in the Premier League so far.

Man Utd have an excellent record against Chelsea at Old Trafford having won two and drawn one out of the last three Premier League meetings there.

In all three of these matches Man Utd led 1-0 at half time and the 13/8 about the home side leading at half time will have supporters as a result of the history.

Should history repeat itself then it is the United players that will be all the rage to bag the first goal.

Cristiano Ronaldo is often the first name you think of when you think goal scorers and at 6/1 is bigger odds than you would usually find as he has been through a relatively quiet patch by his high standards.

Dimitar Berbatov scored United's last Premier League goal in the 1-0 victory over Middlesbrough and is 7/1 to do the same again with Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez at 7/1 and 8/1 respectively.

The Red Devils are spoilt for choice up front but Chelsea are not far behind and it will be interesting to see if Scolari plays Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba together.

Individually they are both lethal and the pair are available at 8/1 each to open the scoring. If you fancy Chelsea to net first though Frank Lampard has been on fire recently and as a certain starter and set-piece taker, odds of 9/1 to score first or 10/3 to score anytime are appealing.

It is no secret how important this match could be in the race for the title and a cagey affair could be on the cards as a result.

History would also suggest that it will be a low scoring affair and under two match goals at 7/4 will have its supporters.

Two more factors that point to a low scoring affair are the return of John Terry to the Chelsea defence which will make them more solid at the back and the fact that Man Utd have not conceded a goal in their last seven Premier League matches.

At a big price Man Utd half-time/draw full time looks decent bet at 14/1. As pointed out before, United have been leading the last three of these encounters at Old Trafford 1-0 at half time.

Should Chelsea be down at half time Scolari will surely start to attack and while it may leave The Blues vulnerable at the back, a late goal could be in on the cards ensuring, to the delight of Liverpool that the two sides share the points.

Bearing this in mind a score line of 1-1 is available at 5/1 in the betting or for those who feel it will be so tight there will be no break through, no goal scorer can be backed at odds of 15/2.

If you're finding it too close to call this game then an interesting market could be the first player to receive a card.

While this does require a bit of guessing there are some tasty prices to be had. A particuarly notable one is Ronaldo, who in recent weeks seems to have a nasty habit of giving players a little kick or nudge when it is not needed.

How he has escaped a red card for these incidents so far is baffling and it has been well documented Scolari has in the past encouraged his team's to foul and wind up the opposition.

If Chelsea can get under his skin and he has one of those moments which is entirely feasible then 14/1 looks a good price.

John Terry won't be messing around on his return either and expect a host of crunching challenges from the Chelsea skipper who is 12/1 in the betting to be carded first.

While this game doesn't decide the title, should either side prevail it will provide a much needed boost in both the on and off-pitch battles.

United can take the early advantage before Chelsea creep back into it in what should be a tight and bad-tempered affair.


Cristiano Ronaldo to receive the first card - 14/1

Man Utd half time/draw full time - 14/1

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