Manchester United travel to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon. It will be a big match for United, who will face Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea for the first time this season, having drawn with Frank Lampard’s Chelsea at Old Trafford earlier in the season. United’s form at the Bridge is better than it has been, undefeated in the last four visits with three wins, one draw, eight goals scored, three conceded and two clean sheets. United qualified for the UEFA Europa League round of 16 on Thursday evening and were drawn against AC Milan and will a few weeks break from European competition, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will be seeking to improve their position in the league this season with many tough matches ahead of them.
United gave Shola Shoretire his debut in the Europa League on Thursday, making him the youngest player to represent United on the European stage, which is a big thing considering the talent that has played for the club at a similar age during the course of history. At this moment in time, United are second in the Premier League table level on points with Leicester City but with a better goal difference. Leicester face Arsenal in a noon kick-off on Sunday so could put some pressure in United ahead of their kick-off at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea are currently fifth, six points adrift of United. Manchester City top the table, ten points clear of United level on matches played and they face West Ham United, who are currently fourth in the table.
How United have faired against Chelsea in the Premier League.
United and Chelsea have met a total of 57 times in the history of the Premier League with this being the 58th meeting between the two sides who have both been in the top tier of English football since the Premier League was created. United have won 17 times with Chelsea winning 18 times, the two clubs drawing 22 times. United have scored 72 goals with Chelsea scoring 71. United have won five penalties, scoring four of them with Chelsea winning two and scoring both of them. United have kept 15 clean sheets with Chelsea keeping 18. United players have received 126 yellow cards and four red cards with Chelsea players receiving 136 yellow cards and six red cards. This will be an important match for both clubs.
Last season, United beat Chelsea twice at Stamford Bridge; 2-1 in the Carabao Cup which saw Marcus Rashford score a brace, including one penalty and Michy Batshuayi scoring a consolation. United also won 2-0 in the Premier League with Anthony Martial and Harry Maguire scoring the goals. United are undefeated at Stamford Bridge in their last four visits, winning three times and drawing once. The last defeat at Stamford Bridge was in the Premier League, a 1-0 scoreline on the 5 November 2018. This could be something that affects Chelsea, who have been less than a force in the meetings since. Earlier this season, when managed by Lampard, United and Chelsea drew 0-0 at Old Trafford, which was a poor result considering those prior.
Here is my predicted starting XI to face Chelsea in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon…
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
David De Gea has Dean Henderson looking to take his spot this season after making 13 appearances so far this season, keeping eight clean sheets. De Gea has 28 appearances and nine clean sheets in all competitions, so based on appearance and clean sheet data alone, Henderson is the better goalkeeper, statistically, this season. I liked the way Henderson commanded his area against Real Sociedad, which is something that De Gea does not do and perhaps should. I feel that Henderson has more to give at United as De Gea’s form has been terrible at times. I had a bad feeling ahead of last season’s FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea with De Gea dropping a clanger. Henderson conceded five goals to Chelsea at Sheffield United last season, De Gea conceded two.
Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Eric Bailly, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw
United’s defence found some form against Real Sociedad on Thursday night but the Spanish side were not really testing them. Eric Bailly had a good game and perhaps he could do the same again if he started against Chelsea. Harry Maguire will most likely be back in the starting XI too. Aaron Wan-Bissaka played 45 minutes on Thursday and will start against at Stamford Bridge with Luke Shaw, who was rested during the week, taking his left-back place. United have some good players in the defence but they need to start shutting out the opposition players as if United are to win a league title, the defence is what will help to achieve that, as Sir Alex Ferguson once said “attack wins you games and defence wins you titles”. He got it right so many times.
Midfield: Fred, Scott McTominay
Scott McTominay needs to be fit for this match and if that is the case, ensuring that he was ready by keeping him out of the dead rubber against Real Sociedad on Thursday night will be a master stroke. McTominay and Fred play very well in the pivot role. although there will be some of the more negative supporters that will not agree, but you cannot really argue with the fact that it has largely worked for both of them this season. McTominay has seven goals and one assist to his name this season with Fred yet to score a single goal, although he does have an assist. With Paul Pogba out of action for a longer period of time, it is the best that could be, although Solskjaer will need to bring in Donny van de Beek at some point, giving him more game time.
Attacking Midfield: Mason Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford
Just inn these three players alone, there are 44 goals and 29 assists so far this season, which is the majority of the goals for United. Bruno Fernandes has 22 goals and 13 assists to his name, Marcus Rashford has 18 goals and 11 assists with Mason Greenwood having four goals and five assists. Both Fernandes and Rashford have continued their form from last season, having some periods where they were not scoring or creating but when you compare their performance data with Martial, he has been left behind, which is a worrying sign for him and United. Amad Diallo and Shola Shoretire could add something late in the game, if needed with United up for continuing their form at Stamford Bridge and continuing their away form this season, which is impeccable.
Forwards: Edinson Cavani
After scoring seven goals and two assists so far this season and missing the last three matches, Edinson Cavani needs to be starting for United again, should he be fit. The Uruguayan is the best forward at the club this season after Anthony Martial has continue his flop season which seems like he is not going to find any form, or at least figure it out that he’s long out of form. It is a worrying sign that so many people seem to praise the Frenchman despite him not really doing much this season, compared to the last. Cavani has the ability to unlock the defence, find some good positions and create space for other attackers. His headers are sublime also – perhaps one is coming up this weekend, if he plays?
Substitutes: Dean Henderson; Victor Lindelof, Alex Telles, Brandon Williams, Axel Tuanzebe; Amad Diallo, Donny van de Beek, Shola Shoretire; Anthony Martial
With nine substitutes to choose from, Solskjaer will have some choices, providing at least three of the injured players are back in contention, with two of them predicted to start in this match. Dean Henderson will be con the bench after his clean sheet against Real Sociedad on Thursday evening. In defence, Victor Lindelof, Alex Telles, Brandon Williams and Axel Tuanzebe, who could provide midfield cover too, will be available. In midfield, Amad Diallo, Donny van de Beek and Shola Shoretire could provide some good options against Chelsea with Anthony Martial as the only attacking player on the bench, despite his poor form this season. Solskjaer will be seeking a result in this match, but Chelsea will be seeking the same.
Written by John Walker