Manchester United’s top four hopes hang in the balance as they get ready to host league leaders Chelsea at Old Trafford on Sunday evening. For Antonio Conte’s men, it is yet another chance to inflict misery on their former manager and take one step closer to the title.

The Blues were incidentally the last team to beat Jose Mourinho’s team in the league or in any other competition as United have stitched together a 21-game unbeaten streak in the league since but have drawn far too many games in this sequence, resulting in them languishing in fifth, 18 points behind Chelsea.

Chelsea didn’t stop there, they also knocked United out of the FA Cup, courtesy of a 1-0 win in the quarterfinals at Stamford Bridge. Their 4-0 win earlier on in the season is also the highest margin of defeat that Jose Mourinho has suffered in his time as a Premier League manager.

It would be easy to say that Conte’s men had one week to prepare for this fixture and are thus in the driver’s seat but Tottenham’s relentless chase has seen them forced to win every game in order to keep their North London rivals out of the top spot.

Spurs’ 4-0 win over Bournemouth has closed the gap to four points again and with seven games left, Conte will try to ensure that there are no hiccups on the way to what would be a fifth Premier League title for the Blues.

Stability and the superb form of his starters has been the key to Conte’s selection this season and thankfully for the Italian, his squad has a clean bill of health leaving him with little to no headaches.

Any pressure on Chelsea has to be purely mental and with a well-settled squad on a rich run of form winning 24 of their 31 matches, there appears to be no sign of nerves as they quietly motor along. Should the script fall on expected lines, United should get beaten comfortably this evening.

For Manchester United, they absolutely have to win this match and hope one of Liverpool and Manchester City slip up as the business end of the season sees a tough fixture list for the home team who are yet to face City, Tottenham and Arsenal as well before the end of the season.

With them competing on two fronts, the Europa League seems to be taking a heavy toll on Mourinho’s men and the Portuguese could be planning to prioritise Anderlecht’s visit this Thursday.

United are four games away from a Europa League Trophy and a place in next year’s Champions League while the Premier League route appears more daunting with four of the top six yet to be played in their remaining eight games.

Their over-reliance on Zlatan Ibrahimovic for goals remains and with none of the other attackers barring Henrikh Mkhitaryan firing, Mou may be planning to rest the Armenian with Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard expected to support the Swede up top.

The absence of Juan Mata will have hit United hard with the Spaniard the second-highest scorer in the league for the Red Devils. Marouanne Fellaini may play alongside Ander Herrera as Paul Pogba may be pushed up front to support the attack.

David de Gea returns to the starting line-up after being out injured for two games as Sergio Romero takes his place on the bench. The Spanish No 1 has had another solid season and this could be his last league game against Chelsea as bidders moot a move for one of the world’s best shot-stoppers.

It will be interesting to see whether Mourinho tries to match Conte’s 3-4-3 with Daley Blind and Antonio Valencia as his full-backs. The form of Eden Hazard and Diego Costa makes it easier for Conte as his only selection dilemmas are between Willian/Pedro and Cesc Fabregas/Nemanja Matic.

All signs point to Chelsea stopping United’s unbeaten streak come Sunday evening. Win this and the title may be closer than ever.