Starting XI Prediction: Mkhitaryan, Rashford and Martial to stun Chelsea?

Manchester United are up against Chelsea in the Emirates FA Cup at Stamford Bridge on Monday evening. Chelsea were the last team in the league to beat United, which runs back to October last year. That 4-0 defeat could well be enough for United to get the better of their opposition, earning a semi-final place and another trip to Wembley this season. United have fallen foul to Chelsea over the last eleven matches in all competitions, losing six and drawing five matches, meaning that Chelsea have not been beaten by United since 2012, which is something United need to snap out of and rise to the occasion. Jose Mourinho will be heading back to Stamford Bridge as an opposition manager for the second time this season, now having a second chance to take something from Antonio Conte’s side, who currently have a ten point lead at the top of the Premier League table.

Starting XI Prediction:

Goalkeeper – David De Gea

The Spanish goalkeeper was rested in Russia on Thursday evening, last playing in the 1-1 draw with Bournemouth at Old Trafford last weekend. Sergio Romero, the stand in for De Gea has been good this season, so to keep De Gea fit and ready to go, sustaining some rest for the odd match, it keeps him ready for action, especially in a period where United had to play five matches in 16 days this month. Last month, United had to play three matches in the run up to the EFL Cup final, with Southampton seemingly having a fortnight’s rest ahead of the game, which would suggest why they were much fresher and able to attack United.

Back Four – Antonio Valencia, Eric Bailly, Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw

Against Rostov in midweek, Jose Mourinho tried a five at the back system to counter the system the Russian side were using. Many thought that the Portuguese Special One was looking for a new system to encounter Chelsea too, who have been using a 3-4-3 system this season, and very well I must say. It may well be the case that Mourinho was looking to see if his players could hold the line with three central defenders and two wide players effectively securing the defence. Phil Jones and Chris Smalling looked inferior at times, which may not work against a highly pressed attacking side such as Chelsea. Bringing back both Antonio Valencia and Luke Shaw as the full-backs and utilising Eric Bailly and Marcos Rojo in the central defensive roles might be the best option, and not so heavy at the back so United can still play those fast attacking players to counter what Chelsea can throw at them.

Midfield Three – Ander Herrera, Michael Carrick, Paul Pogba

The midfield three of Marouane Fellaini, Ander Herrera, and Paul Pogba worked against Rostov in Russia and the midfield three with Michael Carrick replacing Fellaini should work too. United will have an extra man in Carrick to help shield the defence and dictate play, with both Herrera and Pogba to get into more forward positions and help the attacking three of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marcius Rashford, and Anthony Martial. The sextet of effectively attacking players are all able to work together, cover for each other and should, in effect, be able to get the better of the rampant Chelsea season. So far in the Emirates FA Cup this season, both United and Chelsea have scored ten goals, conceding just one in three matches, so league positions aside, both teams in this competition are similar in form.

Forward Three – Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial

Manchester United have some very talented players in the attacking positions this season and with Zlatan Ibrahimovic sitting out his first of three domestic matches due to suspension, utilising other attacking outlets will be something Moutinho will need to sort out. Marcus Rashford is the obvious guy to replace the Swede as his pace, ability, and the way he seems to be able to take on his man, get the better of him and fire a ball, from many angles, towards goal. Rashford has been on the United stage for a year now, getting the better of teams, seemingly for fun, meaning he has three matches to show his worth to Mourinho. Flanking Rashford will be Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Anthony Martial, both of whom played in Russia – Mkhitaryan for 67 minutes, Martial replacing the Armenian. Both Martial and Mkhitaryan have pace, the ability to cut in and support Rashford, providing he’s given the role as lead striker over Wayne Rooney, who did not travel to Russia earlier in the week, presumably being saved for this match.

Written by Mike Wilson

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