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Key Players and Battles: Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, and Rashford to battle with Kenedy, Abraham, and Zouma in Old Trafford clash

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.

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.

Key Players: Both Manchester United and Chelsea have key players in their squads who could be the difference between winning and losing at the Theatre of Dreams on Sunday.

Manchester United: Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Daniel James, Mason Greenwood, Paul Pogba, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Harry Maguire, David De Gea

Chelsea: Tammy Abraham, Kenedy, Christian Pulisic, Mateo Kovacic, Jorginho, Cesar Azpilicueta, Kurt Zouma, Kepa Arrizabalaga

Key Battles: Chelsea and United will be battling all over the pitch in order to win the opening Premier League fixture of the 2019/20 season. Here are three key battles ahead of the fixture.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka v Kenedy

The £45 million right-back has performed very well for United during the pre-season tour which saw United play in Australia, Singapore, China, Norway and Wales. Not just able to defend, the 21-year-old has the attacking strength to get forward and help his teammates by passing and crossing into the box.

Against Chelsea, Brazilian winger Kenedy may well cause some problems for the England U21 star with his nifty footwork and ability to break through the defence and set up or score goals. During Chelsea’s pre-season, Kenedy scored one goal and assisted another, which could be something that gives him the confidence against United. Wan-Bissaka will be tested with tricky footwork but should overcome that.

Harry Maguire v Tammy Abraham

The £80 million central defender who signed from Leicester City at the start of the week has already integrated into the first team and according to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, he will play against Chelsea on Sunday. Maguire is a set-piece threat, likes to dribble with the ball, play long balls and play the ball off the ground. His concentration is his best asset.

Tammy Abraham will be tested to his limits against Maguire in order to break through on goal. The 21-year-old scored 26 goals in 40 appearances for Aston Villa last season, so he has a few tricks up his sleeve to beat his man. Maguire may be tested also in his first outing for United. I would expect the Sheffield man to get the better of Abraham though.

Marcus Rashford v Kurt Zouma

Marcus Rashford did not have the best end to last season and he was wasteful at times. However, ahead of a new season, he seems to be positive. Rashford scored three times in the pre-season tour and looked to be one of the best player in the squad during the early matches. His instinct, when positive, is great to see and something of a problem for defender.

Kurt Zouma has been picked by Lampard for a number of matches during pre-season after his loan spell with Everton last season, which showed his ability to become a decent defender for his club. Zouma is a strong defender with ability to read the game, also having a great aerial ability. He does lapse in concentration at times, which could be where Rashford could strike, getting the better of his man.

Opposition Scouting: Frank Lampard has the knowledge of the club to kick start their new season against Manchester United at Old Trafford

Manchester United will battle Chelsea in the opening Premier League match at Old Trafford this season. The London club has endure a few changes since they lifted the UEFA Europa League in their final match of the 2018/19 season, beating Arsenal 4-1 in Baku, Azerbaijan. Manager Maurizio Sarri left the club for Juventus and star player, Eden Hazard left for Real Madrid. There is also the transfer of a certain David Luiz to Arsenal, which may be a blessing more of a problem.

Chelsea ended the 2018/19 Premier League season in third place, pipping London rivals Tottenham Hotspur by one point. This will be something that will spur the club on this coming season, despite the changes which have been made this summer. The summer transfer ban paid end for the club to make wholesale changes to the squad, although Christian Pulisic was signed by the club in January and loaned back to Borussia Dortmund, coming in for his debut Premier League season.

Manager: Frank Lampard – the midfield legend returning to the club as manager to steer a new era and bring success back to Stamford Bridge.

18 years ago, Frank Lampard left West Ham United, a club he had been at since joining in 1994 as a schoolboy. Chelsea paid £11 million for the midfielder who has a 13-year glittering career at the club, playing a total of 648 matches, scoring 211 goals. He left the club in the summer of 2014 after winning three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two League Cups, two FA Community Shields, one UEFA Champions League trophy and one UEFA Europa League trophy. A pretty good career as a player.

On leaving Chelsea, Lampard signed a two-year deal with New York City FC in the MLS which would commence at the start of the 2015 season. Days after this being announced, Lampard was sent to Manchester City, the parent club of New York City, where he would be on loan for six months. The midfielder played 38 times for City, scoring eight goals. In the MLS, Lampard played just 31 times in two seasons, scoring 15 goals. Lampard became a free agent after the 2016 season and has many offers to continue his glittering career, however, at the start of 2017 he retired.

In May 2018, Lampard became the manager of Derby County, who were and still are in the EFL Championship. In his competitive debut as manager, Lampard’s Derby beat Reading 2-1 at the Madejski Stadium with former United academy graduate, Tom Lawrence scoring the last-minute winning goal. In his season managing Derby, Lampard took them to the playoffs beating Leeds United 4-3 and getting beat 2-1 by Aston Villa in the final. In July 2019, Lampard was appointed as Chelsea manager, replacing Maurizio Sarri and will guide his team into a new era of the club.

Tactics: The 3-4-3 that was used by Antonio Conte and the 4-3-3 formation Maurizio Sarri seems to have been shelved by Lampard as 4-2-3-1 if the formation used during pre-season.

When Antonio Conte took over from Guus Hiddink in the summer of 2016, he changed the formation of the club with three defenders, four midfielders and three players considered as attacking. It largely worked for Conte with his winning percentage standing at 65%. Conte’s replacement, Maurizio Sarri changed the formation to 4-3-3 with good results as his winning percentage was 62%. Chelsea played some good football in both these formations and were problematic to beat, especially for Manchester United at Stamford Bridge, which is still evading them today.

Since replacing Sarri, Lampard has once again changed the formation, using a slightly different 4-3-2-1 formation, which is the most popular formation in the Premier League and has been for a number of years. Lampard had his Chelsea team playing some good football during pre-season, where they player seven matches (one more than United) winning four times, drawing twice and losing just once. Chelsea scored 18 goals this summer, conceding 11, which could be a problem for them being that they have lost David Luiz this summer and will be relying on different defenders and unable to even buy players in January.

Form: Chelsea have played seven matches during pre season, winning four, drawing twice and losing once. The defence could be problematic as they conceded 11 goals this summer, of course, it may be different in competitive matches.

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

Predicted Starting XI: Tammy Abraham to lead the line against Manchester United with Ross Barkley behind him, flanked by Kenedy and Christian Pulisic – Lampard could see success with this lineup.

Match Prediction: Chelsea to start strongly for United but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be seeking a way to start his first full season as manager with a scalp over the London club?

Manchester United 2-1 Chelsea

How Manchester United could look against Chelsea in their opening Premier League match

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.

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.

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

Tipped to extend his stay with the Old Trafford club, David De Gea is the best goalkeeper at the club and will be looking to right the wrongs of last season. Now that Aaron Wan-Bissaka has strengthened the right-back position and Harry Maguire will solidify the defence, there will be a different aspect to defending this season. ‘Attack scores goals, defence wins titles’, these are Sir Alex Ferguson’s words and a route to success. I am not saying United will win the league, by the way. Just in case you suggest I was. The point is that United’s defence is a lot better than last season. Conceding fewer than 30 goals all season will be a positive.

Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw

I am excited to see this back for line up against Chelsea. Solskjaer has suggested that Maguire will start in the centre of defence on Sunday, probably partnering Victor Lindelof, flanked by both Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw. This back four, at least on paper is the best back four United can field at this time. Of course, it will be good to see Eric Bailly when he’s recovered from his knee injury as he and Maguire could form a partnership also. I would like to see Axel Tuanzebe get chances too as he could well be the future of the club.

Central Midfield: Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba

The midfield is something supporters have moaned about for a long time now. Paul Pogba needs to be in the zone all season, giving 100% dedication all of the time he is on the pitch. If he gets injured, United have a lack of creative cover but with talented youth to be given chances, you never know what could happen. Marcus Rashford would not have had the impact he had if Anthony Martial did not injure himself in a warm-up ahead of the Midtjylland match in 2016. Scott McTominay is the best partner to Pogba at the moment as Nemanja Matic looks too slow and prone to mistakes and Fred and Andreas Pereira don’t seem to be in great form. Pereira might not be suited to the central midfield.

Wingers: Mason Greenwood (right), Daniel James (left)

Solskjaer is happy with Mason Greenwood and has suggested that he could be set to face Chelsea on Sunday. He was left out of the EFL Trophy match against Rotherham United earlier in the week and missed the Premier League 2 opening fixture against West Bromwich Albion on Friday evening, so should be set to feature. Some suggest he won’t get much playing time this season but his involvement in pre-season suggests otherwise. I think Solskjaer will use a 4-2-3-1 formation or even 4-3-3 but a traditional 4-4-2 could find a route through Chelsea’s defence. Daniel James will make his Premier League debut for United most likely, proving that his pace and ability means less thinking time for defenders and he could wreak havoc on defences this season.

Strikers: Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial

This might not be the formation chosen by Solskjaer ahead of the Chelsea match but I think both Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial will feature in the game, whether they both start remains to be seen. However, with both seemingly read to play in the central area following the departure of Romelu Lukaku on Thursday, it gives the likes of Greenwood and James to feature on the flanks, which could be great considering their pace, ability and hunger to provide assists or even score themselves. United’s attack is something that could develop into a devastating front line this season, if supporters give them a chance, which is, of course, what football is about – giving and taking chances.

Substitutes: Sergio Romero; Ashley Young, Axel Tuanzebe; Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Andreas Pereira; Tahith Chong

The bench could well chance considerably. I would like to see Axel Tuanzebe take a position on the bench as I do not feel confident in both Phil Jones and Chris Smalling. With Marcos Rojo’s failed move to Everton, he is not in the right frame of mind to be considered yet, if he remains at the club with transfer windows in Europe still open and clubs looking to strengthen. Ashley Young should be on the bench, some suggest he should be starting at left-back. Who knows. Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Andreas Pereira and Tahith Chong could all feature on the bench for United.

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

Derby County manager Frank Lampard seeking to buy Demetri Mitchell this summer

Manchester United academy graduate Demetri Mitchell is a target for Derby County manager Frank Lampard this summer, according to reports. The Sun has claimed that the former Chelsea player is seeking a permanent deal worth £500,000 for the defender. Mitchell already has many followers amongst United’s fan base who would like to see him develop into a player capable of occupying either the left-back or the left-wing, or a role in between at the club in the future.

Mitchell, 21, had a loan spell with Hearts in the Scottish Premiership last season where he was highly regarded by his manager, teammates and most importantly the supporters of the club. Sadly his season ended prematurely due to injury. Mitchell will be seeking to find out what his future holds for him at United, seeing Ashley Young emerge as the first-choice left-back at the club last season, alongside the speculation earlier this summer which linked Luke Shaw with a move away from the Old Trafford club.

The 21-year-old made his first team debut at United on the final day of the Premier League 2016/17 season against Crystal Palace with United winning the match 2-0. Many youth players made their debuts that day, including Josh Harrop, who left promptly that summer for Preston North End and Angel Gomes, who became the youngest debutant since Duncan Edwards at the club. Mitchell thought his inclusion would bring more opportunities in the first team, but that is not what happened.

Before going on loan to Hearts in January 2018, Mitchell revealed what Jose Mourinho had said to him ahead of the Palace game where he made his debut. Mitchell had only been playing as a fullback for around two years, being converted from a winger/wing-back with Nicky Butt commending the defensive side of his game. Reported by the Manchester Evening News at the time, Mitchell had said:

“It was special making my debut for the club against Crystal Palace. The manager just brought me in and told me that, although every game is important, there was no pressure on me. It was the end of the season and I really enjoyed it. Obviously I hoped it would lead to more opportunities at United but that hasn’t happened, so that’s why I was so keen to go out on loan.”

Confirming that Butt, now the head of United’s academy but at the time was coaching the U23s, had switched him to a more defensive role at the club, Mitchell, speaking to the Scotsman, said:

“Hearts got in touch with United because they have been looking for a left-back and I seemed to fit the bill for them. I’ve been told Hearts have been needing a left-back for a while so hopefully, I can help out with that. My aim is to play as much as I can and help the team finish the season strongly.

“I have only turned into a left-back over the last two seasons. I was a winger or a wing-back before that. But Nicky Butt, the Under-23 manager at Manchester United [at the time], thought I did the defensive side of the game well. He moved me back there and I have been doing a lot of work to learn the position.

“I think I have been getting better at it. It feels more natural to me now and I’m adapting well. I can play as a wing-back if it’s five at the back, or at full-back if it’s a flat four.”

The Sun suggests that Mitchell has one year remaining on his United contract and the club now need to work out whether they will sell the player this summer, or in effect watch him leave as a free agent in a years time. It would be a shame that a player as talented as Mitchell could leave the club but it would not be the first time that a youth player had not found the form or the chances to occupy a first team place at the club.

United will fly to Los Angeles today [Sunday 15 July 2018] ahead of their pre-season tour which will see them face Club America, San Jose Earthquakes, AC Milan, Liverpool, and Real Madrid in the United States of America, before flying to Munich, Germany to face Bayern Munich five days before the new Premier League season starts. With many first team players missing due to this summers FIFA World Cup, which ends today with France playing Croatia, Mitchell may, in fact, travel with the squad to offer depth in the early matches.

Mitchell would do well playing for Derby County if the report is true that Lampard is seeking to sign him. The Championship club finished in the play-off positions last season, losing to Fulham, the eventual winners. Derby will be seeking to earn promotion back to the Premier League under Lampard this season, whether achieving an automatic promotion or winning the play-off. Bringing in a player as capable as Mitchell would be good for them, despite it seemingly being a loss for United.

copyright: JW