Chelsea welcome Manchester United at Stanford Bridge for a crucial encounter for both, the Blues and the Red Devils.
Why You Should Be Watching?
Chelsea is coming off two dominant and convincing victories over Leicester City and Juventus, leading both the Premier League and their Champions League group. The only gloss to the week is the injuries to two important players. Meanwhile, Manchester United has struggled in the league with just one win in their last 7 league games, despite qualifying through to the last 16 of the Champions League by somehow beating Villarreal. Even though the qualification to the next has been secured, their performance has been far from convincing. Michael Carrick got the job done following the sacking of Ole Gunnar Solkjaer. Can this Manchester United side escape a loss at the Stanford Bridge?
Chelsea has had a blistering week following their return from the international break. Picking up from where they left off before the break, Chelsea has mauled Leicester City and then midweek in the Champions league moved to the top of their group defeating Juventus 4-0 in the process. Ben Chilwell who has been on a wonderful run of form, left Stanford Bridge on Tuesday limping. Chilwell could be out for as long as six weeks with an injury to his anterior cruciate ligament. Ngolo Kante also had a twisted knee against Juventus and his availability is ruled out for this encounter. Kovacic and Kai Havertz are still the absentees for the Blues.
Manchester United at the start of the week relieved Ole Gunna Solksjaer from his duty and appointed Michael Carrick as their temporary interim manager. With Ralf Rangnick waiting to take over the squad as the interim manager, Carrick put up a decent tactical display against Villarreal in the midweek. Carrick’s side ended the Champions League game with a clean sheet which was also the objective. Obviously, Manchester United has not suffered in chance creation this season, but their inability to defend off the ball has made them look like an unorganized unit. It was not perfection midweek but a step forward. Can Manchester United withstand the firepower Chelsea throws at them?
Maguire would be missing this clash due to suspension. Meanwhile, Varane is still out injured leaving them with only Bailly and Lindelof as their two first-team CB option against Chelsea. Fred also had a knock in the midweek game against Villarreal and could be out in this encounter. Luke Shaw and Pogba will also be on the sidelines. Greenwood is yet to recover from COVID-19. Carrick has limited options against Chelsea but he cannot deny the quality of the depth in the squad at his disposal. This leaves him with no excuses if he is not able to get even a point from this game.
Defense: Azpilicueta, Tiago Silva, Rudiger
Midfield: Reece James, Jorginho, Ruben Loftus Cheek, Alonso
Attack: Mount, Werner, Hudson-Odoi
League form (from recent): WDWWW
GK: De Gea
Defense: Wan Bissaka, Lindelof, Bailly, Alex Telles
CDM: Scott McTominay, Van De Beek
Attack: Sancho, Bruno Fernandes, Rashford
League form (from recent): LLWLL
Players to watch out for
Chelsea’s top goalscorer this season is a wingback. He has been simply phenomenal in the attack as well as in the defense. He has been excellent in his subtle runs and positioning in midfield and around the box. His strength, crosses, shots, defensive prowess, and desire to get the ball to justify his numbers this season. He could do the real damage to Manchester United if he’s given space in and around the box.
The experience the 37 years Old Man brings to Chelsea’s backline is tremendous. Though he might not have the speed like his younger teammates, he positions himself beautifully to fulfill his defensive duties. His split-minute decision-making has come to the Blues’ rescue and he would be germane to stopping the Red Devils from doing any damage in London.
He can always be relied on to get the goals if the team can play well as a unit. Individually, Ronaldo is a goal poacher. Any defense should be careful if Ronaldo is lurking around the 18-yard box. However, what good is having Ronaldo if the other departments are not coordinated to play together as a team. It is left to be seen if Ronaldo can once again save Manchester United from any embarrassment.
David De Gea
If Man United has one savior this season, it is definitely De Gea. He has kept Manchester United in the game until a minute come back several times already this season. De Gea could be a key to stopping the fluid Chelsea attack from putting such a crucial game to bed in the very early minutes. He must be ready to make many top-drawer saves to help his team at West London.
Chelsea would want to win this game to extend their unbeaten run and stay at the apex of the league. Meanwhile, Manchester United would not want to fall below their current 8th position in the league. The last time Chelsea defeated Manchester United was as back as November 2017. Since then, they have drawn 4 and lost 3. However, interspersed between these league fixtures are league cup and FA cup encounters of which Chelsea have won some and also lost some. Would Chelsea do what they have not done in the last 4 years i.e. beating Manchester United in the Premier League?
Our Prediction: Chelsea 2 – Man Utd 1
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