Manchester United travel to Stamford Bridge where they will face Chelsea in the Premier League on Saturday evening. Erik ten Hag’s side have beaten Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur in the top six but were beaten by Manchester City. That is good form for United.
Fresh from their 2-0 victory over Spurs at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening, United will be seeking to put more misery on Chelsea after Fred and Bruno Fernandes scored the goals to see them try and push themselves into the top four this season.
Chelsea drew 0-0 with Brentford on Wednesday evening, the team that beat United 4-0 at the start of the season, so it could well be another evening to celebrate at Stamford Bridge. United are undefeated in the last four matches against Chelsea, seeing defeat in one of the last ten.
Predicted Manchester United Starting XI – 4-2-3-1
Dalot, Varane, Martinez, Shaw;
Antony, Fernandes, Sancho;
Goalkeeper: De Gea
David De Gea put in another key performance against Spurs with United now winning three points against three of the top six teams in the Premier League. Granted, they were swept aside against Manchester City but getting three points against Chelsea will be a great result for United.
United have started to find their feet under Erik ten Hag this season and the pressing approach has worked well in the last few matches, even if goals were hard to find in two of the matches. Spurs were tough in the first half but fell early in the second half. De Gea kept that strength.
To keep three clean sheets in the last three matches is a big step for United, especially after the fact they have leaked goals but the likes of Harry Kane and Heung-min Son were not able to score against United, which shows that the defence and De Gea have done their jobs well.
Defenders: Dalot, Varane, Martinez, Shaw
I do not see any reason to make any changes to the defence against Chelsea. Diogo Dalot had one of his best performances against Spurs on Wednesday evening and there is no reason that would stop him from doing the same against Chelsea on Saturday evening.
Luke Shaw also put in a performance reminiscent of his form prior to Euro 2020 in the summer of 2021. The 2020/21 season was probably Shaw’s best as a United player and that form was carried into the Euro’s, which helped England reach the final. He and Dalot are important for United.
The centre of the defence is in great hands with Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez. The duo have made a solid partnership in only a few months that will leave the likes of Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire with tough work to dislodge, other than rotation or covering any injuries.
Midfield: Casemiro, Eriksen
United’s midfield picks itself at this time. Casemiro is one of the first names on the teamsheet and after a difficult few months at the club, he has started to fit in and play a big part in matches, which was always going to happen – just a matter of time.
The Brazilian has played well alongside Fred and Scott McTominay but perhaps the best midfield partnership will be Christian Eriksen, who was perhaps the best free agent signing by the club. He has seemingly replaced Paul Pogba doing what Pogba was expected to do, but failed.
Having both Casemiro and Eriksen start puts United in good stead with defensive duties dealt with by the Brazilian and the Danish midfielder providing some creativity from a deeper role. If Eriksen is not fit enough to start, Fred could continue in the position after a great match against Spurs.
Attacking Midfield: Antony, Fernandes, Sancho
Eight goals and two assists have been scored by players in these positions with Antony and Jadon Sancho scoring three goals each and Bruno Fernandes has two goals so far this season. Both Sancho and Fernandes have an assist each. More needs to be done though.
Antony showed the type of form that keeps him in his place ahead of the Chelsea match. Granted, he did not score or assist against Spurs, but he kept them on their toes and had hard luck getting a goal. Fernandes scored his second of the season, having a good performance against Spurs.
The one player that needs to work harder is Sancho. His three goals this season came early and his contribution level needs to be much higher. He has never shown the form he had in the Bundesliga he must work hard on that. When Anthony Martial is fit, Marcus Rashford takes his place.
Marcus Rashford will probably be the forward that leads the line for United. He missed some chances in the last few matches and that is something he must solve but with Cristiano Ronaldo out of the Chelsea match, and Anthony Martial’s injury, he might be all United has.
Martial could well be fit and Ten Hag could have saved him for the Chelsea match but that is not something that has been confirmed by the manager just yet, and may well be confirmed in the pre-match press conference on Friday. If Martial is fit, Rashford replaces Sancho.
Martial has not yet played 90 minutes in one match this season, playing 133 minutes so far this season, having three goals and two assists to his name, which gives him a goal contribution around every 27 minutes. United need a predatory striker like Martial to be fit this season.
Substitutes: Heaton; Lindelof, Malacia; Fred, Pellistri, McTominay; Martial, Elanga, Garnacho
United will have five substitutes once again in the Premier League despite using just one against Newcastle United and three against Spurs. With Harry Maguire and Brandon Williams returning to training, there will be more defensive players to factor in.
Against Chelsea though Tom Heaton will remain on the bench as the goalkeeper. In defence, Victor Lindelof and Tyrell Malacia will be available should they be needed. In midfield, the likes of Fred, Facundo Pellistri and Scott McTominay will all be available.
In attack, which is where United lack some depth because of the injury to Martial, could see the Frenchman back in as Ronaldo is removed from the squad with Anthony Elanga and Alejandro Garnacho also available to add more pace. Charlie McNeill could come in this season too.
Written by John Walker