Manchester United welcome Chelsea to Old Trafford in the Premier League on Tuesday evening. This match was to be played in May but the same weekend Chelsea will go head to head with Liverpool to contact the Emirates FA Cup, so the match was brought forward.
United have been a disaster in their last three matches, seeing Norwich City give them a hard time, although they won 3-2, Liverpool running riot in a 4-0 victory at Anfield and Arsenal beating them 3-1 at the Emirates. United’s players need to start working hard to make some changes.
With Erik ten Hag already announced as the new manager this summer, this squad will need to start showing their abilities otherwise there will be so many sour faces this summer with players cast out in the cold because of their poor displays of so-called professionalism.
Ralf Rangnick will be blames, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Jose Mourinho, Louis van Gaal and David Moyes all were. Granted, many of the players have changed in those eras but the downing of tools has continued. Tough love will change this mentality and the players will need to buck up their ideas.
Previous meetings with Chelsea and their connections with United.
United and Chelsea have met 59 times in the Premier League. United have won 17 times, drawn 24 times with Chelsea winning 18 times. United have scored 73 goals, winning five penalties, scoring four. Chelsea have scored 72 goals, winning three penalties, scoring all of them.
United have kept 16 clean sheets with Chelsea keeping 19. Discipline has been an issue with United players receiving 133 yellow cards and four red cards and Chelsea players being shown 139 yellow cards and six red cards. United have failed this season; time to blood in youth?
Radamel Falcao, Juan Sebastian Veron, Mark Bosnich, Mark Hughes, Paul Parker, George Graham, Mal Donaghy and the late Ray Wilkins, a player both sets of supporters will hold immense respect for, have also featured for both clubs in the past.
Nemanja Matić and Juan Mata currently play for United and have played for Chelsea. Romelu Lukaku has also played for both clubs, starting out at Chelsea, signing for United from Everton and after a period at Inter Milan, he re-signed for Chelsea last summer.
Here is my predicted starting XI to face Chelsea in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Thursday evening…
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
United have four more matches including this one and then, the season is over. David De Gea will end up remaining the goalkeeper for the remainder of the season, which is what he deserves as he has been the difference in the squad this season – probably the Player of the Season once again.
With Erik ten Hag incoming in the summer, De Gea will be seeking to confirm his position as the goalkeeper, possibly being the only first team player to last from Sir Alex Ferguson to the new era that lies ahead. Whether that happens remains to be seen though.
Dean Henderson wanted some game time this season but that has not been the case. It is something that will either change next season, or the player will be off to pastures new as there must be a reason why Ralf Rangnick has not trusted him.
Defenders: Diogo Dalot, Raphaël Varane, Harry Maguire, Álvaro Fernández
United’s defence has let the club down this season and that is something that will need to change moving forward. All the money that has been spent has not really changed a thing with the defence a laughing stock, somewhat more than before.
In the fullback positions, Diogo Dalot should keep his place at right-back as he has not been a failure this season but does better on attack than defending. In the left-back position, Álvaro Fernández should be given a chance in the first team. It could offer great reward for United.
In the centre of the defence, Raphael Varane should keep his place, having 90 minutes under his belt from his latest injury. Partnering him will most likely be Harry Maguire, who was rested against Arsenal, which did not seem to make the slightest bit of difference in this area.
Midfield: Scott McTominay, Hannibal Mejbri, Bruno Fernandes
United’s midfield requires some action. It is not dominant and the lack of creation is annoying, considering the money that had been spent on the squad for no real development. It is time to forget this season and blood in some youth to find a solution for the future.
Scott McTominay should keep his place in the midfield as he offers energy and determination, two of the ingredients that are needed in this team. Bruno Fernandes should also keep his place, with few players to start because of injury. He’s done a lot at United but needs to find his form again.
The other player that should start is Hannibal Mejbri. Against Liverpool last week, he had a few minutes on the pitch and showed so much more interest than the team of professionals that he joined on the pitch. That should be something that embarrassed many of his teammates.
Forwards: Anthony Elanga, Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho
United’s forward line need to start scoring goals and for that to happen, the midfield needs to create and the defence needs to stop panicking every time an opposition player gets close to them. Some of them can smell so much fear. That is not United nor the United way.
Anthony Elanga should keep his place in this forward line as he has offered a lot, despite being very inexperienced himself, but each match he plays adds to that experience. Jadon Sancho should keep his place too as he has a lot to offer, especially for the future of himself and the club.
Cristiano Ronaldo will also start this match with Edinson Cavani on the sidelines through injury and not likely to get a final gat at Old Trafford unless there is something that we do not know that has happened behind the scenes. Ronaldo has 22 goals this season – an achievement.
Substitutes: Dean Henderson; Phil Jones, Alex Telles; Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Nemanja Matić, Charlie Savage; Marcus Rashford, Alejandro Garnacho
Rangnick will need to pick a bench of players that he has faith and trust in and after what has been seen this season, there will not be much of that. The confidence of this team is low and the players stopped performing some time ago.
Dean Henderson will remain on the bench. In defence, Phil Jones and Alex Telles could be called upon if a chance in defensive play is needed, which could be the case. In the midfield, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Nemanja Matić and Charlie Savage should be available.
Adding youth to the squad would be a good move, giving them some meaningful game time and experience and a taste of what is to be expected. In attack, Marcus Rashford, who is well out of form and Alejandro Garnacho could both be available, the latter is a great option right now.
Written by John Walker