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Chelsea v Manchester United betting: Back Fernandes to fire up the Reds once again


Chelsea v Manchester United betting: Back Fernandes to fire up the Reds once again

Stephen Tudor takes a closer look at United's star man ahead of their trip to Stamford Bridge

ASTON Villa fans who rightfully rave about Jack Grealish, and Leicester City supporters who revere their talented difference-maker James Maddison both have something they want known.

It’s an assertion shared by Gooners who for several seasons proclaimed Mesut Ozil an assist-king along with Manchester City fans who regularly extol the substantial value of Kevin De Bruyne. Even Liverpool and Spurs supporters want in on the act despite their teams being wholly dependent on forwards that consistently need to fire or else they lapse into the ordinary.

These large tracts of people – as well as supporters of seemingly every club beyond Old Trafford – are all under the firm belief that Manchester United are overly reliant on Bruno Fernandes.

Quite where the line lies that separates a club’s good fortune in possessing an influential and brilliant player and being cursed with a sensational one they’d greatly miss should injury or a loss of form strike is hard to determine. It is, after all a strange and new phenomenon born from social media which states that everything under the sun – from opinions to indisputable facts – simply must have a contrary standpoint these days even if that contrary view is an entirely hypothetical one.

So it is that United are deemed not to be deserving of our envy for having a midfielder who is currently second in both the scoring and assist charts. Instead, they warrant disparagement because they would be at a loss without him.

Make sense of that if you can and while you’re at it, feel free to throw in any analogy you wish to better highlight its absence of logic. Should a man be belittled for being deliriously content with his gorgeous wife because at some point down the line a painful divorce might occur? Or a fabulously rich individual mocked because a future depression might wipe out his fortune?

Fernandes is 6/1 to become only the first midfielder since Cristiano Ronaldo to win the Premier League Golden Boot this season.

And if the imaginary anchors weighed onto Fernandes’ rising star perplex, it also confounds why it is only his searing displays that are met with so much negativity.

Grealish and Maddison are universally celebrated for elevating their respective sides, and the same goes too for Salah and Calvert-Lewin and we really could go on. Yet still, the Portuguese international’s magnificent output prompts as much hand-wringing as admiration.

‘He can’t do it all on his own,’ worried the Mail Online recently and it’s true that he cannot. Nor does he. Fernandes has been directly involved in 49% of United’s league goals this term and that is a staggering figure but it only shades that of Salah’s contribution at Liverpool and it’s hard to recall any consternation concerning the Egyptian’s importance, only eulogies.

What’s more, it shouldn’t be forgotten that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men are the Premier League’s most prolific side with goals flying in from every angle and to continue the comparison with the reigning champions, United have scored 13 goals this season from their non-strikers, even when Fernandes’ 15 is taken out of the equation. Liverpool, for their part have notched just seven.

So which club would most miss their star performer?

Yet still the trope continues, for United are ‘too reliant on his individual genius’ according to Goal.com but this is reasoning that is all-too-easy to counter because surely it is preferable to have an individual genius than not? Certainly, most clubs in the top-flight would cut their right arm off to have a creative outlet who shares with Robert Lewandowski the distinction of being the only players in Europe to have reached 25+ goal involvements in 2020/21.

Since joining the Reds from Sporting a little over a year ago Fernandes has proven to be a transformative addition and a sizable reason for United swaggering in second. Truly, it’s very hard to find a negative slant here.  

Tony Cascarino however gave it a good go on Talksport when he insisted that the Reds are a pale shadow of their usual selves when he is absent. For the record, they have won every game he has sat out since he signed.

Yet on and on it goes. He masks United’s many flaws. He is a ‘stat-padder’ who relies on penalties. He goes missing in big games, a charge given credence by only three goals against the ‘top six’ since he arrived in England. It’s cynicism writ large and written often.  

This latter accusation is particularly pertinent with United travelling down to Stamford Bridge this Sunday, a fixture incidentally that saw Fernandes shine last season, assisting a decisive second and showing nice touches throughout.

The midfielder is 47/20 to score anytime in the capital. Having scored every 141 minutes to date in the league this is your bet of the day.

It is a fixture too that United go into buoyed by having a good track record of late against Chelsea, unbeaten in their last six Premier League encounters and it matters also that the Reds have yet to be bettered on the road since losing at Anfield thirteen months ago.

Solskjaer’s men are 5/2 to extend their impressive away form and emerge with all three points.

Granted, this will be a different Chelsea to the side held at Old Trafford back in October and beaten home and away last year. The introduction of Thomas Tuchel has seen to that with the German quickly implementing changes at the Bridge not least a formational switch to a 3-4-3 that is already benefitting several key personnel.

Yet there are strands of Lampard’s DNA that still persist, a wastefulness in front of goal being one and even if a chance is converted we can expect the visitors to respond in kind. United have won a startling 22 points from losing positions this season, more than anyone else by some considerable distance.

The 29/1 available on Chelsea/Manchester United in the Half Time/Full Time market is a great shout

So early are we into Tuchel’s tenure that Chelsea are in any respects an unknown quantity for this top six clash. But almost certainties can be found in the opposition namely a fortitude that means they cannot be written off should they go behind and that Bruno Fernandes will be pivotal to any comeback.

There is another near inevitability too. That the match write-ups will portray the influential and brilliant midfielder as much a burden as a blessing.

 

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