Chelsea will look to increase the distance between themselves and Manchester United when the two teams meet at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League on Monday.
The winter break might have been long overdue for some teams. But, we are back in the thick of things and Premier League has a sumptuous fixture lined up for Monday Night Football, with Chelsea and Manchester United pitting themselves against each other at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea and Manchester United are both without a win for 3 Premier League games now and have seen other clubs either catch up to them or pass them by in the race for Champions League football in the upcoming season. This fixture will also be crucial for the teams as it will lay down a foundation for a gruesome and packed schedule that awaits Chelsea and Manchester United.
The teams last met in the Premier League on the opening day of the 2019-20 season, with Manchester United running away with a 4-0 win at home. United won the next fixture as well, this time in the Carabao Cup, thanks to an ingenious free-kick attempt from Marcus Rashford. As the two teams prepare to renew rivalries at Stamford Bridge, we take a closer look at their squads.
Team News & Tactics
Frank Lampard has roster issues to deal with. The in-form Christian Pulisic will have to sit the match out due to injury while Olivier Giroud and Tammy Abraham are both doubtful for the clash at Stamford Bridge. Ruben Loftus-Cheek is on the road to recovery but the game comes a bit too early for him.
Lampard dropped Kepa before the winter break and we could see the Spaniard being reinstated in goal, with hope that the message has been received sound and clear. The back four should consist of Reece James, Fikayo Tomori, Antonio Rudiger and Cesar Azpilicueta, who will be stationed on the left to make space for James on the right.
Jorginho, N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic should comprise the midfield three, which could see Mason Mount being played out wide in a 4-3-3 formation. Willian should ideally start as the only natural winger, with Tammy Abraham likely to be fit in time to spearhead Chelsea’s attack against Manchester United on Monday.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Kepa; James, Rudiger, Tomori, Azpilicueta, Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic; Willian, Abraham, Mount
The triple threat of Marcus Rashford, Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay continue to be sidelined for Manchester United, who also have Axel Tuanzebe out with injury and Timothy Fosu-Mensah still regaining fitness.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has often gone for the 3-man backline with Luke Shaw acting as the third central defender in the big games. But, we should see him keep faith in the 4-man defence for the match against Chelsea. We should have Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire in the middle of the defence, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka on the right. Brandon Williams should be preferred on the left.
In midfield, Fred and Nemanja Matic should start for Manchester United, with Bruno Fernandes being handed a start in the number 10 role. Daniel James has done well in big games and his pace could be of use, especially with Bruno’s creativity infused in the starting lineup.
Anthony Martial hasn’t done as well as the number 9 and we could see the Frenchman shifted to the left side of the attack, with Odion Ighalo starting upfront for Manchester United, provided the former Watford star is match fit.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Williams; Fred, Matic; James, Fernandes, Martial; Ighalo
1. Manchester United have failed to find the back of the net for 3 Premier League games in a row.
2. Manchester United have not lost on their last three visits to Stamford Bridge in all competitions.
3. Manchester United have scored at least twice in each of their last three visits to Stamford Bridge in all competitions.
4. Chelsea have found the back of the net in 8 of their last 10 matches in all competitions.
5. Tammy Abraham has scored just twice in his last 10 Premier League appearances.
Player to Watch
The new Manchester United signing already showed glimpses of just why the Red Devils snapped him up in January in the 0-0 result against Wolves. But, there could be nothing better for Bruno than to kick off his United career with a defining performance against Chelsea at their home ground.
Short of numbers in midfield and creativity, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be hoping Bruno proves to be a trump card on Monday night. The Portuguese has all the skills in his locker to be one on any given day.
Chelsea 1-2 Manchester United
If there’s one positive to be drawn from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reign as the Manchester United manager so far, it is the club’s record in big games. Frank Lampard may be above Solskjaer on the Premier League table but the Chelsea manager has lost twice to his adversary before the two teams meet on Monday night.
Manchester United’s counters could prove to be Chelsea’s undoing once again, especially with United now having someone like Bruno Fernandes to offset the lack of creativity from Paul Pogba’s absence. Rashford will be missed by United but they should do enough to secure a win, with the two new boys Ighalo and Fernandes in line to score their first goals for the club.