Jamie Carragher
Football Expert & Columnist

Chelsea v Manchester United: Eden Hazard and Adnan Januzaj key, says Jamie Carragher

Carragher's Chelsea v Man Utd preview

Chelsea and Manchester United will look to gifted forwards Eden Hazard and Adnan Januzaj for a match-winning moment on Sunday, says Jamie Carragher.

Both sides have won five of their last six Premier League games and played out a cautious 0-0 draw at Old Trafford when they met in the reverse fixture at the start of the season.

While United's campaign to retain their league title has since faltered, the Blues currently sit third in the top flight, two points adrift of Arsenal.

However, Carragher expects another closely fought contest to play out when the two sides meet in west London and reckons Hazard or Januzaj could prove to be the hero.

Belgium's 23-year-old Hazard has bagged three goals in his last four league games for Chelsea and Carragher applauded his ability to turn matches in the favour of Jose Mourinho's men this term.

Jose: Hazard Maturing

"Hazard has been Chelsea's standout player, there's no doubt about that," said Carragher.

"Last season he was one of the top five or six players in the league and in the PFA nominations he was right up there for Player of the Year - and if he continues playing the way he is he'll be there again.

"Chelsea, even though they've accumulated a lot of points, have been a bit workmanlike at times, even in games they've won, but he is the one who gives them something different.

"He's a bit of a maverick but we've seen him grab games by the scruff of the neck this season. We've seen it against Liverpool, which was one of his best performances for Chelsea, and also against some of the lesser sides, such as Sunderland and Hull.

"He's got that little bit of craft and genius."

Talent

Januzaj, meanwhile, has impressed Carragher with his maturity and temperament.

"For a kid to go into a side with that much history and be their best player in a difficult time, that shows Januzaj's talent."

Jamie Carragher

This is the 18-year-old's first full season in the United first-team but, following his stunning announcement against Sunderland, the boy from Brussels has secured a regular berth in David Moyes' side.

"It's a toss-up between Januzaj and Wayne Rooney as to who has been the best player for United this season but while Rooney has been out for the last few weeks Januzaj has stepped up," said the former Liverpool defender.

"Playing for Man United at that age and the pressure that comes with that [is impressive] but he's not just playing, he's their best player at the moment.

"For a kid to go into a side with that much history and be their best player in a difficult time, to go into a Manchester United team that isn't free-flowing with high confidence and to still be there wanting the ball - that shows the boy's talent."

Although Januzaj may be used from the bench on Sunday, Carragher expects both he and Hazard, when they are on the field, to roam across the front line to combat the crowded midfields both managers are likely to employ.

Clever

And the Sky Sports pundit suspects it may be the hosts who just come out on top in a game crucial to both sides' ambitions for the rest of the season.

"Januzaj can play on the left, on the right or off the front," said Carragher.

"If he plays on the left it would be quite a task against a defender such as Branislav Ivanovic, who is very powerful, but as a young player he's still clever enough to take up good positions, come inside and flip over to the right.

"That is similar to what Chelsea will do with Hazard; it's what the modern-day wide man does.

"But this is a big game. It is a big game for United because, although I think they're a little bit short for the title, getting into the top four is massive with Spurs, Liverpool and Everton there.

"And it's a big game for Chelsea, who I picked at the start of the season to win the title.

"However, I think you've just got to favour Chelsea with the form they're in."