Frank Lampard takes charge of his first Premier League game as the Chelsea manager against arch-rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Chelsea will open their 2019-20 Premier League campaign with a contest against rivals Manchester United this weekend. In what will be manager Frank Lampard’s first competitive match in-charge, after he replaced Maurizio Sarri earlier in the summer, all eyes will be on the club legend as he goes up against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s troops at Old Trafford.
Under Lampard, Chelsea have set out in a 4-2-3-1 formation during the pre-season and will take the field with the same setup against the Red Devils, with Spanish goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga being a guaranteed starter between the posts for the West Londoners.
Following David Luiz’s departure and with Antonio Rudiger out with an injury, Chelsea will have a new look central defensive partnership of Andreas Christensen and Kurt Zouma, who is back after a successful loan spell at Everton. Cesar Azpilicueta is the obvious pick at right-back for Lampard, while Emerson Palmieri is likely to pip Marcos Alonso at left-back.
Concerns remain surrounding the fitness of midfield mainstay N’Golo Kante, who featured just once during the pre-season campaign. Lampard confirmed that the Frenchman is fit but would take a call on his involvement closer to the game. “We have Kante fit, but if he’s match fit is a question I will have to decide right up until the end,” Lampard said in his pre-match press conference.
There is a strong possibility that Kante will start as one of the two midfielders in the double pivot in the middle of the park given the importance of the fixture. The 2018 World Cup winner is likely to be partnered by Italian international Jorginho, ahead of summer signing Mateo Kovacic at Old Trafford.
Callum Hudson-Odoi is still recovering from the injury he picked up towards the end of the last season, while Brazilian superstar Willian is also a fitness doubt for the upcoming fixture. That means new signing Christian Pulisic is certain to make his Premier League debut against Manchester United, starting out on the left flank, accompanied by Pedro on the opposite wing.
The No. 10 slot will see youngster Mason Mount go head to head against former Evertonian Ross Barkley, who looked reinvigorated under Lampard during the pre-season. While Mount has done well in the opportunities that have come his way, Barkley is likely to get the nod for the high-profile fixture against United.
Academy product Tammy Abraham should, in all likelihood, edge out Olivier Giroud and Michy Batshuayi as the lone striker for Chelsea, as he did for most of the pre-season.
Predicted Chelsea XI: Kepa; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Zouma, Emerson; Kante, Jorginho; Pedro, Barkley, Pulisic; Abraham