Key Battles: Bailly, Pogba and Rashford to battle against Chelsea


Manchester United will go head to head with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Monday evening in the Emirates FA Cup in order to propel themselves into the semi-final of the domestic tournament with a view of successfully retaining the trophy they won under Louis van Gaal last season. So far this season, Jose Mourinho’s side have won the EFL Cup, a trophy the club last won in 2010 under the guidance of Sir Alex Ferguson. United have endured their best season following Ferguson’s retirement, playing better football and progressing in the rebuilding of the club, which has gone well, which despite more draws than were actually wanted, those results were better than defeats, of which United have suffered six in all competitions this season, the last in the league was back in October against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. United have failed to beat Chelsea in the last eleven matches between the two sides – long overdue to break that record on Monday night.

What will the Key Battles be on the pitch at Stamford Bridge on Monday night?

Eric Bailly v Diego Costa

Eric Bailly last played for United in their 1-0 victory over Saint-Etienne in the UEFA Europa League a few weeks back, finding himself being booked, which saw him suspended for the next match in the competition, the 1-1 away to Rostov. Bailly was then shown another yellow card and was sent off, wich left him one booking away from another suspension. Bailly was rested for the visit of Bournemouth to Old Trafford last weekend, so will be viewed as a pair of fresh legs for the clash with Chelsea. Diego Costa has scored once in the Emirates FA Cup so far this season but in the league he has scored 17 times, assisting in a further five. The cool head of Bailly may be something that could contend with Costa, as he knows how to score a goal of two. This season, in the Premier League, Costa has created 30 chances, has a shot accuracy of 61% with a passing accuracy of 75%. Bailly has made 14 appearances in the league for United this season, has a passing accuracy of 88%, passing on average 20 metres. During a match, Bailly averages at eight defensive actions, which could see him do well against Chelsea, especially Costa.

Paul Pogba v N’Golo Kante

Paul Pogba is a player who currently holds the world record transfer, but some supporters, ABU’s and the media are constantly criticising the Frenchman, some of whom have been moaning about the fee and his goal scoring ratio. That suggests that some suggest a high transfer fee should only be paid when goal are guaranteed. Pogba is a midfielder, he’s never scored the number of goals some expect him to score in a season. The season at United Pogba has scored seven goals and five assists in all competitions, maintaining his stats from his time at Juventus, playing in a more competitive league, which suggests he has raised his game but is still not reaching his expectations, which may be a little too high. Kante was one of, if not the best player in the Premier League last season, won the title with Leicester and left for Chelsea, despite being linked to other clubs. Kante has continued his form, the majority of the time, but Antonio Conte has moaned about the improvement he needs to make in his game for his new club. Pogba has an 85% passing accuracy, has created 50 chances in the Premier League alone this season and averages at three defensive actions per match in the league. Kante has 88% passing accuracy, creating 16 chances in the league, averaging at four defensive actions per match.

Marcus Rashford v Gary Cahill

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is suspended for the next three domestic matches, so unleashing Marcus Rashford in the striker’s role will be best for both the club and the player. Last season, Rashford raised his expectations from his very first match, scoring some stunning and important matches for his club, and also his country (at both levels). Rashford has the eye for a goal but has mostly played in a wingers role this season, which has seen him score seven goals in all competitions this season, three of which have come in the Emirates FA Cup. In the league, Rashford has scored three goals, created 13 chances and kept his passing accuracy to 79%, which is not bad. Gary Cahill is the player that will most likely mark Rashford, being confident on the ball and one of the best defensive players in the league this season. Cahill has a passing accuracy of 89%, averages at seven defensive actions per match, but has made two defensive errors in the league this season. Rashford in-form will be a battle for any defensive player, and on his day, his eye for goal is magnificent. Against both Midtjylland and Arsenal, matches played days apart, Rashford scored four goals making his Europa League and Premier League debuts with a bang. Chelsea could have a problem on their hands if Rashford is up for the challenge of earning United first victory over Chelsea in the last eleven matches.

Written by Mike Wilson

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