Chelsea vs Man Utd: Can Conte kill the ghost of Mourinho?

All eyes on London as the Special One returns to Stamford Bridge for first time since he was sacked

Man Utd manager Jose Mourinho and Chelsea boss Antonio Conte
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Jose Mourinho is the centre of attention once again this week as he returns to Chelsea for the first time since he was sacked as manager ten months ago.

But few people believe the former Blues manager, now in charge of Manchester United, will return to London looking to exact revenge. After leaving Anfield with a point under his belt on Monday, he's expected to once again park the team bus at Stamford Bridge and play for a draw.

The United boss was criticised for his side's performance against Liverpool, but Danny Murphy in the London Evening Standard says he was "impressed" and believes the United manager gets a "raw deal" from his detractors.

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"Mourinho wants to play the game the right way and if he has a team of settled, confident players, he will," he says. "He knows how to kill a game and will do so if necessary - but that is just good management.

"I expect United to set up at Chelsea exactly as they did in the 0-0 draw at Liverpool... They looked strong, athletic and powerful and I quite enjoyed watching them."

The tactic is valid, says Paul Merson of Sky Sports.

"People had a go at United on Monday," he says. "What do you expect? They got a point...

"I don't think they're good enough to mix it at the moment. I think Jose Mourinho knows that, he set his team up and they didn't lose. It was a great result. He will 100 per cent do the same at Stamford Bridge."

Whatever the neutrals think of Mourinho's tactics, it is "safe to assume he will receive a warm welcome" at Stamford Bridge, says Jonathan Wilson in The Guardian. However, the Special One's legacy there is not as enduring as it once was and new manager Antonio Conte will be keen to lay down a marker.

He has already dispensed with Mourinho's old formation and has employed a back three in the team's last few outings, a tactic that has so far proved successful.

And he will also be without John Terry, the clearest link back to the days of Mourinho that remains at Stamford Bridge.

The former England skipper has an ankle injury and, says The Times, his "expected absence will limit Antonio Conte's defensive options... leaving the Chelsea manager with little choice but to persist with the back-three of Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz and Gary Cahill that played together in last week’s 3-0 win over Leicester City".

But Terry's absence, despite the "indifferent" form of Cahill, may be a blessing in disguise for Conte.

The Guardian's Wilson says: "There could be few better ways for Conte to assert himself than to vanquish his predecessor on Sunday- particularly if he does it with a team set up in what is recognisably his way."

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