Jose Mourinho returns to his old hunting ground badly in need of a win as Chelsea host Manchester United at Stamford Bridge in an early Saturday kickoff.
It has been smooth sailing so far for Maurizio Sarri in the Premier League. Despite facing Arsenal and Liverpool already in the Premier League, Chelsea are cruising with 20 points, equal with Manchester City and the Reds at the top of the table. The Blues did not have much of a problem returning from the first international break of the season.
Compared to Cardiff City though, Manchester United will be a different beast. Perhaps, a dogged beast is what explains United the best. They did return to winning ways against Newcastle United in a spirited second-half performance. But, the Magpies are yet to record a win whereas, on Saturday, they face a Chelsea side yet to be defeated in the current Premier League season.
Manchester United’s last Premier League visit to Stamford Bridge yielded a 1-0 win for the home side, which is what Maurizio Sarri will hope for on Saturday. Let us take a closer look at the two squads.
Team News & Tactics
Antonio Rudiger and Mateo Kovacic are likely to be fit in time to start against Manchester United, leaving Ethan Ampadu as the only one on the treatment table. The back four will be kept intact, with Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso providing the width from defence while Kepa Arrizabalaga will hope to build on his performances so far in his maiden Premier League campaign.
The midfield three should consist of the usual culprits – N’Golo Kante, Kovacic and Jorginho. The Italian international will be advised to be more adventurous with his passing, especially if Manchester United continue to play the way they have done so far this season.
Alvaro Morata’s form has pleased Maurizio Sarri and we could see the Spaniard make a return to the forward line on Saturday. Eden Hazard and Pedro should accompany Morata in the three-man attack.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso; Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic; Pedro, Morata, Hazard
Jose Mourinho has a long list of injuries to contend with while naming his eleven on Saturday. As many as eight first-team stars are doubtful or confirmed absentees for the match against Chelsea. Of them, Marouane Fellaini, Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera are reportedly likely to be considered for selection by Mourinho.
If Shaw does return, the back four should remain the same, with Eric Bailly being preferred over Victor Lindelof at the heart of the defence alongside Chris Smalling.
After Mourinho’s comments against Scott McTominay, it is unlikely he will choose the Manchester United academy graduate for a game as big as Chelsea. Fred and Paul Pogba should both start in a midfield three, with the third spot likely to be a toss-up between Marouane Fellaini and Ander Herrera.
Given Herrera’s memorable performance in shutting down Eden Hazard, the Spaniard should get the nod if fit within time.
Marcus Rashford’s misses against Newcastle could cost him his place in the starting eleven. Alexis Sanchez will hope to start after his winner against the Magpies. Juan Mata also played a crucial role in the win and will be looking to start against his former club. Romelu Lukaku should be the natural choice upfront.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): De Gea; Valencia, Smalling, Bailly, Shaw; Fred, Herrera, Pogba; Mata, Lukaku, Sanchez
1. Full Time Result – Draw or Manchester United @ 2.10
2. Over 10.5 Match Corners @ 1.90
1. Marcus Rashford to score anytime @ 4.33
2. Manchester United Draw No Bet @ 3.50
1. Manchester United have failed to score on four of their last five visits to Stamford Bridge in all competitions.
2. Manchester United have conceded 14 goals in the Premier League so far, with only Fulham, Cardiff and Huddersfield leaking more.
3. Chelsea have lost just one of their last 16 home games against Manchester United.
4. Jose Mourinho has won four of his eight meetings against Chelsea as the opposing manager, losing the other four. But, he has just one win out of his five visits to Stamford Bridge, a narrow 1-0 win as the Inter Milan manager.
5. Eden Hazard has six goals in six games for Chelsea in all competitions between the first international break of the season and the second one.
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The Chilean was the one who clinched all three points for Manchester United against Newcastle. Sanchez can now use it as a springboard or the changing moment of his Manchester United career, a spell that has been incredibly frustrating for the attacker.
It will all depend on how Jose Mourinho directs his team to play on Saturday. But, a good performance is the least that Alexis Sanchez would be hoping for from himself in order to build on his Newcastle display.
Chelsea 0-0 Manchester United
This could end up being one of those dull-but-entertaining affairs. Jose Mourinho will look to avoid defeat and given the current situation and how Maurizio Sarri reacted to the draw against Liverpool, he would not be too disappointed with a point on Saturday either.
Expect chances to come far and few between at Stamford Bridge. Barring some individual highlight from players like Eden Hazard, Alexis Sanchez, Paul Pogba or anyone else, we expect a dull draw between Chelsea and Manchester United.