Manchester United start the 2019/20 Premier League season with a clash against Chelsea at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be pitted against Frank Lampard, the former Chelsea midfielders first competitive match as manager of the London club. Both Lampard and Solskjaer will be seeking to start the season on a high. United has a good record from opening games in the Premier League.
Both United and Chelsea played six and seven pre-season matches respectively this summer; United winning all of them and Chelsea winning four, drawing twice and losing once. The transfer window will have boosted United with the signing of Daniel James, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire, despite to midfield or forward reinforcement. Chelsea’s transfer ban saw little input into the team although Christian Pulisic is a new addition.
The summer transfer window may not have been the best for United as supporters believed people on social media who literally made things up, continuing their lies throughout the summer but they always seem to be unmasked during the week of deadline day as the excuses keep coming as to why deals were not complete, like had been said for months. People will still believe these accounts in January and next summer though.
United have won 18 of their opening matches of the Premier League out of the 27 seasons that have been played. Solskjaer will be seeking to make this the nineteenth opening match victory for the club. On the other hand, Chelsea has won 17 of their opening fixtures, one fewer than United so Lampard will be seeking to match United’s 18 opening match victories at the start of the Premier League season. I cannot wait for the football to return to the Theatre of Dreams this summer. It is now time to get behind the manager and the players on the pitch.
United has played Chelsea 183 times with United winning 78 matches, drawing 51 and losing 54. United have not been beaten by Chelsea since the Emirates FA Cup final at the end of the 2017/18 season after Phil Jones gave away a penalty which Eden Hazard scored. United played Chelsea three times last season; drawing 2-2 at Stamford Bridge and 1-1 at Old Trafford in the Premier League, beating them 2-0 in the Emirates FA Cup. United are unbeaten against Chelsea in their last six matches at Old Trafford; winning twice and drawing four times.
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
Tipped to extend his stay with the Old Trafford club, David De Gea is the best goalkeeper at the club and will be looking to right the wrongs of last season. Now that Aaron Wan-Bissaka has strengthened the right-back position and Harry Maguire will solidify the defence, there will be a different aspect to defending this season. ‘Attack scores goals, defence wins titles’, these are Sir Alex Ferguson’s words and a route to success. I am not saying United will win the league, by the way. Just in case you suggest I was. The point is that United’s defence is a lot better than last season. Conceding fewer than 30 goals all season will be a positive.
Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw
I am excited to see this back for line up against Chelsea. Solskjaer has suggested that Maguire will start in the centre of defence on Sunday, probably partnering Victor Lindelof, flanked by both Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw. This back four, at least on paper is the best back four United can field at this time. Of course, it will be good to see Eric Bailly when he’s recovered from his knee injury as he and Maguire could form a partnership also. I would like to see Axel Tuanzebe get chances too as he could well be the future of the club.
Central Midfield: Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba
The midfield is something supporters have moaned about for a long time now. Paul Pogba needs to be in the zone all season, giving 100% dedication all of the time he is on the pitch. If he gets injured, United have a lack of creative cover but with talented youth to be given chances, you never know what could happen. Marcus Rashford would not have had the impact he had if Anthony Martial did not injure himself in a warm-up ahead of the Midtjylland match in 2016. Scott McTominay is the best partner to Pogba at the moment as Nemanja Matic looks too slow and prone to mistakes and Fred and Andreas Pereira don’t seem to be in great form. Pereira might not be suited to the central midfield.
Wingers: Mason Greenwood (right), Daniel James (left)
Solskjaer is happy with Mason Greenwood and has suggested that he could be set to face Chelsea on Sunday. He was left out of the EFL Trophy match against Rotherham United earlier in the week and missed the Premier League 2 opening fixture against West Bromwich Albion on Friday evening, so should be set to feature. Some suggest he won’t get much playing time this season but his involvement in pre-season suggests otherwise. I think Solskjaer will use a 4-2-3-1 formation or even 4-3-3 but a traditional 4-4-2 could find a route through Chelsea’s defence. Daniel James will make his Premier League debut for United most likely, proving that his pace and ability means less thinking time for defenders and he could wreak havoc on defences this season.
Strikers: Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial
This might not be the formation chosen by Solskjaer ahead of the Chelsea match but I think both Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial will feature in the game, whether they both start remains to be seen. However, with both seemingly read to play in the central area following the departure of Romelu Lukaku on Thursday, it gives the likes of Greenwood and James to feature on the flanks, which could be great considering their pace, ability and hunger to provide assists or even score themselves. United’s attack is something that could develop into a devastating front line this season, if supporters give them a chance, which is, of course, what football is about – giving and taking chances.
Substitutes: Sergio Romero; Ashley Young, Axel Tuanzebe; Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Andreas Pereira; Tahith Chong
The bench could well chance considerably. I would like to see Axel Tuanzebe take a position on the bench as I do not feel confident in both Phil Jones and Chris Smalling. With Marcos Rojo’s failed move to Everton, he is not in the right frame of mind to be considered yet, if he remains at the club with transfer windows in Europe still open and clubs looking to strengthen. Ashley Young should be on the bench, some suggest he should be starting at left-back. Who knows. Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Andreas Pereira and Tahith Chong could all feature on the bench for United.