Manchester United will be back in Premier League action on Saturday evening when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side welcomes Frank Lampard’s Chelsea to Old Trafford. United have played twice at the Theatre of Dreams in the Premier League so far this season, losing 3-1 to Crystal Palace in their first match of the season and 6-1 to Tottenham Hotspur almost three weeks ago. United responded to that defeat to Spurs with a 4-1 away win over Newcastle United, also returning to the UEFA Champions League in style with a 2-1 victory over French champions and finalists of the competition last season; Paris Saint-Germain. A great win for United.
United will be seeking to get their first home win of the season, which would see United (currently having six points) rise above Chelsea (currently having eight points). It would also better their league position, although that could change before the last matches are played on Monday evening. Chelsea, however, are seeking to go four matches without defeat and based on their current form, will be in need of a victory, not that Lampard will face any of the same kind of criticism that Solskjaer has faced already this season. United, will also be looking to beat Chelsea three times in a row in the Premier League, winning both matches, home and away last season.
Marcus Rashford scored a brace in this fixture last season and considering the fact he’s scored four goals already this season, including the winner against PSG on Tuesday, he could become the first United player to scored two goals (or more) in back to back home matches against Chelsea, which will be something he would be aiming for. If Edinson Cavani is passed fit to face Chelsea, making his Premier League debut, he could become United’s second oldest debutant scorer at 33 years and 253 days after Zlatan Ibrahimovic who scored his debut goal against Bournemouth on the 14 August 2016 aged 34 years and 316 days.
How United have faired against Chelsea in the Premier League.
United have met Chelsea 56 times in the Premier League. United have won 17 times with Chelsea winning 18 times with 21 matches being drawn. United have scored 72 goals, whilst Chelsea have scored 71 goals. United won five penalties, scoring four (80%) with Chelsea winning two scoring two (100%). United have kept 14 clean sheets with Chelsea keeping 17. Discipline: United’s players have been shown a total of 123 yellow cards with four United players being sent off. Chelsea’s players have been shown a total of 135 yellow cards with five players being sent off. It all seems pretty even at this stage with United seeking to keep their recent record.
Last season, United beat Chelsea at Old Trafford at the start of the Premier League season in a 4-0 thriller with Marcus Rashford scoring a brace (18′ penalty and 67′), and both Anthony Martial and Daniel James scoring a goal each. At Stamford Bridge in the Premier League, United were also victorious over Frank Lampard’s side in a 2-0 thriller which saw both Anthony Martial and Harry Maguire score the goals with United young the double over Chelsea in the league for the first time in a good few years. United met Chelsea four times last season, winning 2-1 in the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup (Rashford brace) but losing 3-1 in the FA Cup semi-final.
Here is my predicted starting XI to face Chelsea in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Saturday evening…
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
David De Gea has shown a lot of improvement in his last two matches as opposed to the match against Spurs. Two goals conceded with United scoring six in those two matches. He performed some great saved at St James’ Park, performing more in Paris at the Parc des Princes, which is a stadium that United have graced twice, winning both times. De Gea has given Dean Henderson a run for his money with his recent performances, which could well be related to how he has fared since the international break. Henderson will be making a push himself and could well feature in the next few weeks, only playing in the Carabao Cup so far this season.
Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Axel Tuanzebe, Victor Lindelof, Alex Telles
United’s defence shows so much improvement against PSG on Tuesday evening after both Eric Bailly and Harry Maguire did not travel to the French capital because of injuries. Axel Tuanzebe stepped up after his ten-month injury spell, which puts him in with a chance of featuring against Chelsea this weekend. Aaron Wan-Bissaka played well against both Newcastle, scoring his first goal for the club and PSG, performing well defensively, which puts him in line to keep his place in the team. Victor Lindelof could start in the left side of the defence with Alex Telles, who made his debut against PSG, showing signs of what is missing in the team.
Midfield Two: Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba
United started with Fred and Scott McTominay against PSG, also having Bruno Fernandes on the pitch in what seemed, at times like a three-man midfield. Solskjaer usually plays a 4-2-3-1 formation, which will leave both Paul Pogba, who should start against Chelsea and McTominay to start with both players doing well against the French side. Pogba has been the recipient of lots of criticism lately but in Paris, he played a part in the victory for United so has earned his place in the team this weekend based on that, which will also allow the likes of Fred and Nemanja Matic to rest this weekend, albeit one or both of them could be on the bench.
Midfield Three: Mason Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford
This is where it could become frightening for United. There is a lot of talent at the club who could all play in these positions and it will only get tougher in January when Amad Diallo arrives from Atalanta. Mason Greenwood has received some bad press recently despite the fact Solskjaer confirmed that he had a slight niggle, he could be places back into the team to face Chelsea, if he has done enough in training to impress the manager. If not, his hiatus from the team will be extended. Bruno Fernandes could captain the club again in the absence of Maguire, who missed the PSG victory. Fernandes, like Marcus Rashford, has four goals to his name this season.
Forward: Edinson Cavani
The Uruguayan striker did not travel to Paris to fa e his former club earlier this week with him needing to test himself to earn a place in the United squad this season, which is only to be expected as United’s fatigue showed at the start of the season and another player not ready for the rigours of the league would not be wanted in the squad right now, which could also do more damage than good with the player having a bigger chance of injuring himself. He could have proven enough to be in contention to face Chelsea this weekend. Anthony Martial will be missing from two more Premier League matches; Chelsea and Arsenal, so this could be a good time for him.
Substitutes: Dean Henderson; Luke Shaw; Daniel James, Facundo Pellistri, Nemanja Matic, Donny van de Beek; Odion Ighalo
United could have used up to five substitutes against PSG on Tuesday but only used three – the same number they will be allowed in domestic competitions this season. Dean Henderson will be the second-choice goalkeeper once more with Luke Shaw likely to be the only defender on the bench. In midfield, the experience of Nemanja Matic, Donny van de Beek and Daniel James plus the raw talent of Facundo Pellistri could work wonders for United, if they need to bring in experience, pace or ability. The only attacking player on the bench will be Odion Ighalo but he is yet to start in the league and that will be much tougher with Cavani at the club.
Written by John Walker