Chelsea will be aiming to bolster their top-four hopes when they lock horns with Manchester United in Matchweek 26 of the 2020/21 Premier League on Sunday.
The blockbuster clash in Matchweek 26 of the 2020/21 Premier League will come our way from Stamford Bridge on Sunday evening as Chelsea get ready to renew their rivalries against Manchester United.
Following a turbulent period towards the end of Frank Lampard’s spell as manager, Chelsea have recovered well under new boss Thomas Tuchel, going unbeaten in each of their nine games under the German, winning seven of those, including a 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Champions League earlier in the week.
Currently fifth in the Premier League table, just two points below London rivals West Ham United in fourth, the Blues will be aiming to bag another victory on Sunday and enhance their chances of a top-four finish. However, things will be tricky against a Manchester United side that hasn’t lost a single away game in the league this season.
Indeed, the Red Devils are unbeaten on the road in the league and head into Sunday’s game on the back of an impressive run of form that has seen them go unbeaten in eight games in all competitions, most recently playing out a goalless draw in the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 second leg against Real Sociedad.
The reverse fixture played at Old Trafford earlier in the season saw Chelsea and Manchester United share the spoils after a goalless stalemate. And ahead of their latest meeting this weekend, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.
Team News & Tactics
Heading into the game, Chelsea have just one player missing as veteran defender Thiago Silva continues to recover from a thigh injury. Thomas Tuchel has preferred to set his team up in a 3-4-2-1 formation since taking over at Chelsea last month, a structure that is reaping great benefits and one which he should stick by against Manchester United.
Edouard Mendy is the first-choice goalkeeper for Chelsea and should start against the Red Devils. The three-man defensive unit of captain Cesar Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger should remain intact in Silva’s absence, meaning Kurt Zouma remains on the bench.
Callum Hudson-Odoi has been the preferred option at right-back for Chelsea but Tuchel might opt to go in with Reece James on Sunday to tackle the threat posed by Luke Shaw. On the opposite flank, Marcos Alonso seems to hav firmly established himself as the first-choice ahead of Ben Chilwell and should start again.
Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic have been the preferred options in midfield for Tuchel during his reign at Chelsea. However, the German might opt to hand N’Golo Kante a start here in place of Jorginho in order to keep a special watch on the influential Bruno Fernandes. Kovacic, as usual, will look to drive the team upfield whenever he gets on the ball.
Tuchel has looked to use two No. 10s in the inside channels, allowing them to play close to the centre-forward while leaving spaces out wide for the wing-backs to bomb forward. A similar setup should be in place with Mason Mount and Timo Werner being the two players slotting just in behind star striker Olivier Giroud with Tammy Abraham and Kai Havertz being options from the bench.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Mendy; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger; James, Kovacic, Kante, Alonso; Mount, Werner; Giroud
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has received some positive news on the injury front as Donny van de Beek is back in training and is in contention for the trip to London. However, both Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay remain sidelined while Edinson Cavani is also likely to miss out. Former Chelsea midfielder Juan Mata is another notable absentee for the Red Devils.
Solskjær: "Donny [Van de Beek] trained today and he felt okay after training so hopefully [there is] no reaction. So he should be with us." #mulive [mu]
— utdreport (@utdreport) February 26, 2021
Solskjaer, in the past, has tended to switch to a three-man defensive unit when going up against the Big Six clubs but is likely to stick with the 4-2-3-1 formation that has worked well for the team for a while now. David de Gea should reclaim his spot in goal after being given a rest in the Europa League encounter.
At right-back, there is no looking past Aaron Wan-Bissaka while Luke Shaw should come in at left-back at the expense of Alex Telles. It will be interesting to see how they deal with the threat posed by the Chelsea wing-backs on the evening. Eric Bailly should hold on to his place after impressing in midweek, with Harry Maguire set to partner him at centre-back.
With no McTominay, Solskjaer has little choice but to stick with the midfield double pivot of Fred and Nemanja Matic for Sunday’s contest while chief playmaker Bruno Fernandes will look to pull the strings together in the final third of the pitch.
Daniel James picked up a knock in the midweek game and may not start at Stamford Bridge, with Mason Greenwood likely to get the nod on the right while Marcus Rashford is a certain starter on the left-wing. With Cavani a doubt, Anthony Martial should once again lead the line for Manchester United.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): de Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire, Shaw; Fred, Matic; Greenwood, Fernandes, Rashford; Martial
1. Full-Time Result – Draw or Manchester United @ 1.66
1. Bruno Fernandes to score anytime @ 3.10
- Manchester United are undefeated in their last 19 away matches in the Premier League.
- Chelsea are undefeated in ten of their last eleven home matches in the Premier League.
- Manchester United have scored at least 2 goals in their last 4 away matches against Chelsea in all competitions.
- Chelsea have kept a clean sheet in their last three home matches in the Premier League.
- Manchester United have won their last three away games against Chelsea in all competitions. They have never won four in a row on the road against the Blues.
Player to Watch
• 𝟯𝟮 𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗿𝘁𝘀
• 𝟮𝟮 𝗴𝗼𝗮𝗹𝘀
• 𝟭𝟯 𝗮𝘀𝘀𝗶𝘀𝘁𝘀
Only Robert Lewandowski has more goal contributions  in Europe. pic.twitter.com/hpZySLpjBQ
— ً (@utdrobbo) February 24, 2021
One cannot deny the impact and the influence of Bruno Fernandes behind Manchester United’s rise to second place in the Premier League table. Since coming to England a year ago, the Portuguese has been one of the best players on display and has produced mind-boggling numbers in his first full season in the English top-flight, making him an early contender for the Player of the Year award.
So far this term, the 26-year-old has bagged 15 goals and 11 assists from 25 league outings. Only Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah (17) has scored more goals than the Manchester United playmaker. For the Red Devils to come out on top against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, they will need their Portuguese talisman firing on all cylinders.
Chelsea 1-1 Manchester United
Chelsea, ever since Thomas Tuchel has taken over, have become a solid defensive unit, conceding just two goals in nine games under the German. However, there remain some chinks in the attacking side of things that still need to be worked upon.
Manchester United have been brilliant on the road this season, but without key players like Paul Pogba, Edinson Cavani and Scott McTominay they will be at some disadvantage. It will be a tightly-contested affair at Stamford Bridge but there is not much separating the two teams in terms of recent form, which is why The Hard Tackle is predicting a 1-1 draw on Sunday.