Matchday 26 Preview: Chelsea v Manchester United
Manchester United travel to the capital to face a 5th place Chelsea side who are experiencing a resurgence under somewhat recently appointed manager Tomas Tuchel. Chelsea have won six games and drawn two in Tuchel’s eight games in charge.
Both sides competed in Europe this week, Chelsea picked up a nice victory against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League thanks to a bicycle-kick by Oliver Giroud and United saw off Real Sociedad and drew AC Milan the next day in the Europa League.
Manchester United picked up a league win last weekend at the dispense of Newcastle, 3-1. Marcus Rashford, Daniel James and Bruno Fernandes found the back of the net for a United side that dominated in the 2ndhalf.
United start a run of some tough games on Sunday, after Chelsea they get somewhat of an easier opponent when they return to the capital to face Palace. United then stay in Manchester for the derby at City. AC Milan sandwiches an in the form of their life West Ham side who currently sits 4th. After the Milan legs, United face Leicester in the FA Cup Quarterfinals.
The season for Manchester United can be defined in these next few weeks. Today, Manchester City saw off that West Ham side 2-1, opening up a 13 point gap now over United in the title race.
A win for United would close the gap back to 10 points and when the sides meet next Sunday it could be less if City drop points to Wolves during the week. Any dropped points and a City win against Wolves and next Sunday against United would realistically seal the title for City a 16 point lead and possibly more with 10 games left would be hard to overcome.
If United were to cut the point gap drastically in the next week it could breathe new life in the title race and possibly unsettle City. United have to get passed Chelsea and Palace to set up that possibility with City next week.
Chelsea could jump West Ham for 4th with a win against United and would then only be three points behind United. Undefeated with their new manager and coming off an impressive win against Atletico Madrid, Chelsea should be feeling confident hosting United, and that can play to United’s hand.
After the Everton game United look better defensively and with a confident Chelsea that could open some counter attack possibilities for United against a slower Chelsea defense. However under Tuchel Chelsea have gone to a back three and they held a good counter attacking team in check during the week.
Man United have to be worried about an inform Olivier Giroud. Victor Lindelof has struggled this season against more physical forwards having recently being out muscled on a goal against West Brom two weeks ago.
Manchester United could still be without Donny Van De Beek, Edison Cavani and Scott McTominay against Chelsea, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer likes to keep his cards close, so it would not be a surprise if at least one of them feature. “We hope that they can be available for the weekend, but I’m not sure,” said Solskjaer of the three.
Juan Mata will be out for the next two weeks at least. Daniel James picked up a possible injury against Sociedad and was pulled off due to caution.
United will probably keep the same shape the (4-2-3-1). But, they could try and match formations with Tuchel due to injuries in the midfield. Axel Tuanzebe came in during the week in the midfield but will probably be an option on the bench. If McTominay is not able to go, Matic will be the likely pairing in the middle with Fred.
It will probably only be one change from the side that faced Newcastle in the league last week if James is not available to go. Mason Greenwood could get the start.