Preview: Manchester United out to prove themselves as Frank Lampard’s Chelsea head to the Theatre of Dreams

Manchester United -v- Chelsea

Premier League

Old Trafford, Manchester

Sunday 11 August 2019, KO 16:30 BST

Referee: Anthony Taylor

Manchester United start the 2019/20 Premier League season with a clash against Chelsea at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be pitted against Frank Lampard, the former Chelsea midfielders first competitive match as manager of the London club. Both Lampard and Solskjaer will be seeking to start the season on a high. United has a good record from opening games in the Premier League.

Both United and Chelsea played six and seven pre-season matches respectively this summer; United winning all of them and Chelsea winning four, drawing twice and losing once. The transfer window will have boosted United with the signing of Daniel James, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire, despite to midfield or forward reinforcement. Chelsea’s transfer ban saw little input into the team although Christian Pulisic is a new addition.

The summer transfer window may not have been the best for United as supporters believed people on social media who literally made things up, continuing their lies throughout the summer but they always seem to be unmasked during the week of deadline day as the excuses keep coming as to why deals were not complete, like had been said for months. People will still believe these accounts in January and next summer though.

United have won 18 of their opening matches of the Premier League out of the 27 seasons that have been played. Solskjaer will be seeking to make this the nineteenth opening match victory for the club. On the other hand, Chelsea has won 17 of their opening fixtures, one fewer than United so Lampard will be seeking to match United’s 18 opening match victories at the start of the Premier League season. I cannot wait for the football to return to the Theatre of Dreams this summer. It is now time to get behind the manager and the players on the pitch.

Form: Both United and Chelsea had an unbeaten pre-season campaign this summer with United scoring 12 goals; conceding three and Chelsea scoring 18 goals; conceding 10.

Manchester United: WWWWWW

AC Milan 2-2 (5-4 on penalties) W, Kristiansund 1-0 W, Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 W, Inter Milan 1-0 W, Leeds United 4-0 W, Perth Glory 2-0 W

Chelsea: DWWWLWD

Borussia Monchengladbach 2-2 D, Red Bull Salzburg 5-3 W, Reading 4-3 W, Barcelona 2-1 W, Kawasaki Frontale 1-0 L, St Patricks Athletic 4-0 W, Bohemians 1-1 D

Top Scorers: United, despite being depleted in attack after the sale of Romelu Lukaku, scored 12 times in pre-season, conceding three and that was before Harry Maguire arrived. Chelsea scored 18 goals but conceded 11, a sign of things to come for the London club?

Manchester United: Pre-season has been largely positive for United this summer with 12 goals scored and three conceded in six matches, of which United won all of them, winning one on penalties.

Goals: 3 – Marcus Rashford, 2 – Anthony Martial, Mason Greenwood, 1 – Angel Gomes, James Garner, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata, Phil Jones

Assists: 2 – Andreas Pereira, 1 – Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Anthony Martial, Juan Mata, Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba, Scott McTominay

United played six matches of their pre-season tour this summer, beating Perth Glory 2-0, Leeds United 4-0, Inter Milan 1-0, Tottenham Hotspur 2-1, Kristiansund 1-0 and 2-2 (5-4 on penalties) against AC Milan. Six matches, six victories and more positivity to head into the new season with three new signings. It will be a period of time which Solskjaer could look at as something which showed his squad that they have a chance to head back in the right direction this coming season.

Chelsea: Seven matches played; four wins, two draws, one defeat; 18 goals scored, 11 goals conceded with Frank Lampard looking to cut his teeth as a Premier League manager.

Goals: 4 – Ross Barkley, 3 – Mason Mount, 2 – Christian Pulisic, Michy Batshuayi, Olivier Giroud, Tammy Abraham, 1 – Emerson Palmieri, Kenedy, Pedro

Assists: 2 – Marcos Alonso, Ross Barkley, 1 – Jorginho, Kenedy, Mateo Kovacic, Michy Batshuayi, Pedro

Chelsea played seven pre-season matches and despite drawing 1-1 against Irish side, Bohemians, which saw #LampardOut trending on Twitter, the London club soon found their feet by beating St Patricks Athletic 4-0, losing 1-0 to Kawasaki Frontale, beating Barcelona 2-1, Reading 4-3, Red Bull Salzburg 5-3, drawing 2-2 against Borussia Monchengladbach in their final friendly match ahead of the visit to the Theatre of Dreams on Sunday afternoon. Lampard will be looking to have a good trip to Manchester in his first as manager of the club.

Team News: Daniel James, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire set to make their competitive debuts for United; Mason Greenwood to be unleashed on the UEFA Europa League holders at Old Trafford on Sunday?

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has suggested that Harry Maguire will make his debut for the club after his £80 million switch from Leicester City this summer. He has played in four pre-season matches for Leicester so should be ready to play for United. Eric Bailly will be on the sidelines recovering from a knee injury until the Christmas period, which will be a blow, although United has a lot of defensive cover right now with Axel Tuanzebe looking to get a chance.

Alexis Sanchez sat out all of the pre-season matches after participation in the Copa America this summer and he has been aiming to get fit for the start of the new Premier League season. Whether he will feature depends on his match fitness, which might not be up to speed, although he did feature in a behind closed doors friendly at the Aon training complex last week, according to reports. Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka are expected to make their United debuts this weekend.

One player that should be in the running to start is 17-year-old Mason Greenwood. He is a player who has performed well during pre-season and has that killer instinct which can gain goals and assists at the top level of English football. Solskjaer wants to blood a new identity to his United team, blooding talented youth into his team which will set United up for the future. If something is worth having, it is surely worth waiting for. After six years, United are now on the right path.

Predicted Starting XI: Solskjaer to field a 4-4-2 with Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford leading the line, Mason Greenwood and Daniel James in the wide areas and Harry Maguire making his debut?

I would like to see Solskjaer try a typical 4-4-2 formation against Chelsea. Having both Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford leading the line could bring the best out of the team with both players supporting each other in central roles. They would be flanked by Daniel James (left) and Mason Greenwood (right) – both players have the pace to beat their man and an ability to get the ball into the box for the forwards. It could work well. Solskjaer, speaking about Pogba, who missed the Milan match due to injury, spoke about the Frenchman, saying:

“He’s been great. I keep saying the same thing when I’m asked about Paul. When he comes in, when he plays, when he trains; he’s absolutely fantastic.”

Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba should feature in midfield and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw making the defence. Of course, David De Gea will be in goal, also having the role of captain on the pitch. I was surprised the 4-4-2 was not tested during pre-season as it could help United find a way to use the pace they have in the team; James, Greenwood, Martial, Rashford, Wan-Bissaka and the creativity of Pogba and even Maguire, to a point.

Match Prediction: Manchester United to extend opening day victories to 19 in 28 Premier League seasons, frustrating Chelsea for the seventh time in a row at the Theatre of Dreams.

United has played Chelsea 183 times with United winning 78 matches, drawing 51 and losing 54. United have not been beaten by Chelsea since the Emirates FA Cup final at the end of the 2017/18 season after Phil Jones gave away a penalty which Eden Hazard scored. United played Chelsea three times last season; drawing 2-2 at Stamford Bridge and 1-1 at Old Trafford in the Premier League, beating them 2-0 in the Emirates FA Cup. United are unbeaten against Chelsea in their last six matches at Old Trafford; winning twice and drawing four times.

Manchester United 2-1 Chelsea

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I support Manchester United, the greatest English football team to have ever existed. Bruno Fernandes is the latest in a long line of players with great ability to play for the club. I idolised Bryan Robson, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, and Eric Cantona growing up.