Chelsea vs Man Utd preview | Confirmed team news | Expected line-ups | Prediction
Man Utd will be travelling to Stamford Bridge on Sunday to face an in-form Chelsea, where the opportunity to pick up three points will be a significant motivator for both teams, kick off 16:30.
Both Chelsea and Utd have seen success in European competitions this week. Man Utd bagged their place in the last 16 of the Europa League, whilst Chelsea came away victorious in the first leg of their Champions League tie.
In the Premier League, second-place Man Utd sit 6 points ahead of fifth-place Chelsea. Nevertheless, it is arguable that Chelsea’s recent form gives them a big advantage going into this game.
Chelsea have won four out of their last five games, drawing their most recent game against Southampton 1-1. Man Utd on the other hand have won two and drawn three from their last five, with their most recent result being their 3-1 win over Newcastle.
The last time these two teams went head-to-head at Stamford Bridge, Man Utd came away victorious (2-0) and they will be looking to get a consecutive win away at Chelsea for the first time since 1995.
Chelsea’s recent run of good form has been helped by their lack of injuries within the team. In his pre-match press conference, Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel confirmed that their only injury concern will be Thiago Silva, who has been out for the majority of this month with a muscle injury.
Giving an update on the defender, Tuchel said, “he did an individual session today, on the pitch, and felt it was big progress”. However, he will not be available for Sunday’s game against Man Utd.
After a long period with no major injuries in the squad, Utd have suddenly had to cope with having multiple players out at once. Perhaps the biggest blow being the loss of Paul Pogba who has been out with a thigh injury and is unlikely to return for another couple of weeks.
Following this, Edinson Cavani, Donny van de Beek, Scott McTominay and Juan Mata were all out of contention for the Europa game mid-week, leaving Utd boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with little to no option in midfield.
Speaking to MUTV on Friday, Solskjaer confirmed that Jones, Mata, Pogba and McTominay are all out and Edinson Cavani “hasn’t trained yet, so I wouldn’t be too optimistic about that, but miracles can happen.”
Nevertheless, the team was handed an injury boost on Friday after Dutch midfielder, Donny van de Beek, returned to training and was confirmed by Solskjaer as feeling “okay after training so hopefully [there is] no reaction, so he should be with us.”
This is particularly promising news for Utd as their options in midfield are extremely slim, as was seen Thursday evening when Axel Tuanzebe was made to play out of position in midfield.
Daniel James also picked up a knock in Thursday’s game, however Solskjaer confirmed “it was just a tweak”. Nonetheless, he went on to say, “I need to give him until Saturday or even Sunday so, hopefully, he can shake it off, but I’m not sure.”
Chelsea (3-4-2-1): Mendy; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger; Hudson-Odoi, Jorginho, Kovacic, Alonso; Mount, Werner; Giroud.
As Chelsea played on Tuesday night, the squad is unlikely to change too much as the players have had sufficient time to recover.
This means, even though Reece James will be wanting a recall, Callum Hudson-Odoi is likely to be given a place in the starting line-up once again with Marcus Alonso continuing on the opposite flank.
N’Golo Kante is another Chelsea player pushing for some game time, therefore, it is possible Tuchel may opt with providing the team with some freshness, giving Kante the chance to start.
Man Utd (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire, Shaw; Matic, Fred; Rashford; Fernandes; Greenwood; Martial.
As per usual, Premier League goalie David De Gea will come in to replace Dean Henderson in goal.
At the back, Aaron Wan-Bissaka will remain on the right, with Luke Shaw coming in to reclaim his place on the left. In the centre of defence, Solskjaer has the choice of Harry Maguire – who was rested on Thursday for this game – alongside either Eric Bailly or Victor Lindelof.
Arguably, with Lindelof’s underlying back problem, it would be surprising if he was chosen to play two games in such quick succession. Therefore, Eric Bailly would be the safer choice for Sunday’s game, coupled with his impressive previous performances against Chelsea.
Moving up the field, Bruno Fernandes is likely to retain his centre-attacking midfield position. With Dan James’ potential injury, Mason Greenwood may start on the right wing with Marcus Rashford on the left. Although, if James is fit, Solskjaer may prefer him to Greenwood for his pace and work-rate, getting back to defend and forward for counter-attacks.
As Edinson Cavani remains out, Anthony Martial will be Solskjaer’s first choice up front.
This is a tough match to predict, however, with both teams needing points it would be hard to see a scenario where one team is able to win comfortably. Therefore, the predicted result is:
Chelsea 1 – 1 Manchester United
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