Chelsea will have to be wary of the danger posed by the in-form Marouane Fellaini when Manchester United visit Stamford Bridge on Saturday, according to his team mates Ashley Young and Chris Smalling.
Fellaini has played a key role in United’s run of six straight league wins and the towering Belgium midfielder received a standing ovation from the Old Trafford crowd when he was substituted near the end of Sunday’s 4-2 victory over Manchester City.
“Felli has been brilliant,” Young told the club’s in-house TV channel. “Everyone will say the same.
“He’s been fantastic. I’ve said before that very few people can handle him. On his day he’s unplayable.”
Young opened United’s account against City with a close-range finish before supplying an inch-perfect cross for Fellaini to head the second goal.
Smalling, who completed the scoring on Sunday after Juan Mata had slid home the third goal, also heaped praise on former Everton player Fellaini who is back to his best after an awful first season at United last term.
“Felli’s been a handful for every team and there hasn’t really been an answer to him,” said England defender Smalling.
“He needs two players to mark him so he frees up a lot of space. He’s been terrific.”
Fellaini has had his share of doubters among the United faithful Since his 27 million pounds ($39.45 million) move but manager Louis van Gaal said Sunday’s ovation showed he had won them over.
“The fans see that he is very important for the team,” said the Dutchman. “He scores goals and lifts the pressure when we need it.
“He always plays the ball to a red shirt, that is also very important.”
Third-placed United’s stunning sequence of results has given them an outside chance of lifting the title but they will need to inflict Chelsea’s first home league defeat of the season to cut the deficit on the leaders to five points.
Van Gaal’s side have six matches left this season while Chelsea have a game in hand on United and second-placed Arsenal who are seven points off the pace.