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Rupert Wyman 2nd Apr 2010 - 13:20

The Old Trafford factor

Tomorrows match could be the defining point for Chelsea's and United's season. After this titanic battle, the winner will be a step closer to winning the illustrious Premier League title, English football's top honour.

When considering the significance of the Manchester United and Chelsea showdown, there is little chance that Burnley manager Brian Laws, would come to mind. However, he has been in the media, seething at the appointment of tomorrow's referee Mike Dean, amid fears he will bottle a big penalty decision at Old Trafford.

Wirral official Dean, gave Law's Burnley neighbours Blackburn a penalty in the East Lancs derby last Sunday, even though Rovers defender Olsson subsequently admitted he had dived. The decision could define Burnley's season and relegate them to the Championship.

The appointment of Dean at Old Trafford could have a major impact on the game. Liverpool manager Benitez believes Manchester United winger Antonio Valencia dived to win an equalising penalty in his side's 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford a few weeks ago.

Although the referee that day was Howard Webb, away teams rarely win the 50/50 decisions at Old Trafford. Mike Dean last refereed a Man Utd-Chelsea fixture in September 2007, when he sent off Chelsea's Mikel and awarded a controversial last-minute penalty to United during their 2-0 home victory.

After all the furor concerning the drama queen Olsson and his informal talk with the Swedish media on his swan-dive in the box, maybe psychologically Dean will be going into the game thinking he can't give away a penalty!

However, it may be a stonewall penalty and he does not give it.

I disagree, I would have a small flutter on a penalty awarded, it is a fair price and with the importance of the match, Mike Dean's history of bottling decisions and the Old Trafford factor, I would back the 12/5 for a penalty to be awarded.

For Chelsea, Didier Drogba has recovered from a training knock and will spearhead the attack, I believe that Ancelotti will go for broke against United and play Drogba alongside Anelka. The French international should play just off Drogba and will drop back to help Malouda and Lampard. Boswinga, Essien and Ivanovic are all long-term casualties.

Man Utd no longer have Rooney for a few weeks, so Berbatov will definitely start.  Owen Hargreaves could return to the bench after nineteen months out with a knee injury and John O'Shea could feature.

Chelsea are riding high after scoring twelve goals in the last two games, whereas it has been a tough week for Sir Alex Ferguson and United. Rooney got injured against Bayern Munich and Olic scored in the last minute for Bayern in the Champions League game midweek, giving the Germans a slender advantage pre Old Trafford.

After United's trip to Germany midweek and Chelsea's Premier League recovery, I would back the away win at 9/5. With an in-form Malouda charging down Neville, the French International could be a potent threat to United and after the midweek fixture against Bayern, United could struggle.



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