The majority of the Sunday newspapers have pencilled Nicolas Anelka in to start for Chelsea in today’s huge game at Manchester United, despite his manager Andre Villas-Boas admitting that he expects him to leave at the end of the season.
Villas-Boas is believed to be planning on sticking with the front three who linked up in arguably the Blues’ most impressive Premier League result to date – last week’s victory at Sunderland – with Juan Mata and Daniel Sturridge supporting the Frenchman.
Unlike the injured Didier Drogba and the much-maligned Fernando Torres, who set up both goals in the midweek Champions League win over Bayer Leverkusen, Anelka has found the net in this campaign, firing in the 2-1 triumph over West Brom.
However, there are doubts over whether the 32-year-old will agree to an extension of his contract which expires next summer, with his Portuguese boss claiming that the club are eager to keep him but that the 2008-09 Premier League top scorer isn’t so keen.
Anelka is rated at 9/1 to boost his bargaining position considerably with the opening goal at Old Trafford, and 3/1 to strike at any time, a price that sees him tied alongside Torres as his side’s most likely source of firepower, besides expected absentee Drogba.
One player who has played a prominent part in many Premier League clashes between Manchester United and Chelsea, former Red Devils captain Roy Keane, is convinced that his old employers will prevail this afternoon at 10/11 though.
When asked for his opinion on perhaps the biggest match of the season so far, Keane said: “I always look at them and, even if they are not at their best, they seem to get results. I certainly can’t see them getting beaten today, but it will be their first big test.”
If you disagree his verdict, odds of 4/1 are available on the visitors taking all three points. Click here to read a full preview of this fixture.