The Premier League action continues amidst all the UCL drama. The 2 Premier League giants go head to head tonight. It is the Blues from London against the Reds from Manchester. It’s Manchester United up against Chelsea.
Both teams are coming into this game with contradicting favors this season. Chelsea even though knocked out of UCL they have been winning games in the Premier League. On other hand, Manchester United surely will be cursing their luck in fixtures. Within a week’s time, they faced Liverpool then in form of Arsenal, and now Chelsea. United are coming back from string to loss where they looked complete outplayed in each of that game. The only point to salvage for them is Cristiano Ronaldo’s form and scoring goals regular basis.
Thomas Tuchel, one of the best tacticians in the world right now, has transformed Chelsea into a world-class team. Under him, the West London club plays in different forms at different times. Tuchel primarily goes with a 3-4-3 formation in the attack. Of the three CBs, Rudiger is the ball-playing CB with him acting as the main ball carrier into the final third down the middle. Reece James/ Azpilicueta and Alonso in the wings operate in quick counters as also sending in pinpoint crosses. Jorginho drops deep to take the role of a deep-lying playmaker. Kante feeds on those balls to carry those into the attacking third for their attackers.
Mount, helped by a free role drops deep to take balls as well as to create goalscoring chances. Lukaku/Havertz remain in and around the box to engage the opposition defenders but also become a second striker sometimes to avoid marking. Pulisic/Ziyech combine with James/ Azpilicueta on the right. Tuchel makes Chelsea perform well in this gameplay.
Rangnick is known as a man full of exquisite tactics which he implements at the right time to win games. He first started life at United with his traditional 4-2-2-2 style but it backfired badly. He then switched to a 4-2-3-1 which has given him the best results so far. Although it’s 4-2-3-1, during the course of the play, it becomes 4-3-3 due to Bruno’s dual role as a CM and CAM. Rangnick’s fullbacks are quite wide and they remain engaged in crossing most of the time. Matic and Mctominay in the midfield play a complementary role to each other while advancing in attacks.
Matic is more of a snatcher of the ball and Mctominay is a ball progressor. Bruno, the floating midfielder, makes runs into the box most of the time as well as takes the bulk of creating attacks. Sancho, one of the most important players in Ralf’s setup does most of the wing play and creates goalscoring chances. Ronaldo generally plays as a box striker. In this way, United’s play unfolds under Rangnick.
For the blues, there are few injury concerns. Chelsea’s first-choice full-back pairing of Recce James who is out with a muscle injury and Ben Chilwell who is out for the rest of the season with an ACL injury. Chelsea midfielder Kovacic and winger Hudson- Odoi too might sit out this game with respective injury issues. Tuchel might go in with a strong squad in this game as it is an away game in a hostile Old Trafford environment.
Mendy, Rudiger, Thiago Silva, Christensen, Marcus Alonso,, Kante, Jorginho, Mount, Havertz, Werner
Rangnick too has some headaches when it comes to injuries. Pogba Fred and Luke Shaw are out with long-term injuries. Cavani too isn’t fully fit for this game. We can expect the same Playing XI which started against Arsenal in this game too as Manchester United doesn’t have a quality bench thus might force Rangnick to play the same XI in each and every game.
De Gea, Dalot, Lindelöf, Varane, Alex Telles, Matic, Scot Mctominay, Sancho, Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, Ronaldo
Players to watch out for
The German youngster is one of the best players in the squad right now. With Lukaku misfiring, he has taken the reigns upon him to keep Chelsea’s scoreboard ticking along with Mount. He has a habit of performing well against top teams in big matches. He already has 10 goals and 3 assists in his kitty. With a Shaky Manchester United defense, Kai Havertz can be crucial for Tuchel Chelsea.
The 37-year-old Portuguese Talisman can still change the dynamics of the game single-handedly. Cristiano Ronaldo has been Man United’s go-to man all season. Even in a below-par Man United team, he has still scored 22 goals in all competitions this season. Having scored a goal in the last two games, Ronaldo would like to have his name on the scoring charts against Chelsea as well. With four games to go until the end of the season, it will not be a surprise if Ronaldo ends the season with 20+ premier league goals as well.
All in all, this game can be full of excitement and drama for the fans. For Manchester United, it’s about their pride and prestige. After two back-to-back losses then would want to win this game and get things to backtrack and still say in the fight for that top 4 spots this season. On other hand for Chelsea, it’s about cementing their spot in the top 3 finish for this season in Premier League.
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Ashutosh Welankar Law graduate by degree. Football lover and blogger by passion.