Manchester United face Chelsea on Sunday in the Premier League.
New challenge, new United, new manager but could it be the same old problems? After the humiliating 4-1 loss to Watford last Saturday, the Manchester United board relieved Ole Gunnar Solskjaer of his job and placed Michael Carrick in temporary charge for the game against Villarreal. Carrick will remain in charge this weekend against Chelsea but it is expected that Ralph Rangnick will be named the interim manager incredibly soon.
So with Carrick still in charge will we see a similar approach to what we did on Wednesday? Carrick set up more defensively and decided to start with Anthony Martial and Donny Van De Beek rather than Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford. It was around the 60th minute mark that he made his move and used the fresh legs of his subs to win 2-0.
However, Chelsea will be a completely different entity. The London side have been transformed by Thomas Tuchel and currently sit top of the table three points clear of 2nd place Manchester City. Chelsea are the team to beat having only lost once this year to City. They are clear title favourites alongside United’s city rivals and Liverpool.
Will United be able to beat them? Recently in this fixture, United have been the stronger of the sides but the past two league games have drawn a blank. This is unusual for this fixture with goals usually coming in it, the previous seven fixtures (before the two 0-0s) the game ended with a minimum of two goals in it.
Imperious is the word that comes to mind. Tuchel has found the balance of his team and is able to rely on the back up brigade when needed as well. Chelsea top the group in the league, top the group in the Champions League and are through to the quarter final of the League Cup; it really is quite rosy by the Thames.
However, in their second to last league game they came unstuck against a stubborn Sean Dyche who refused to give up and his Burnley side managed a surprising 1-1 draw. This was just a minor blip on a superb start to the season and Tuchel’s men backed it up with a 4-0 thumping of Leicester City to restore themselves to winning ways.
Chelsea Team News
Chelsea will certainly be without left back Ben Chilwell who has suffered an ACL injury. Tuchel confirmed today that the injury will see him out for six weeks minimum and then he will be assessed for surgery.
Alongside Chilwell, N’Golo Kante has been side-lined. The French world cup winner has been an ever present player for Chelsea since he arrived and usually puts in an 8/10 performance against United so they will be happy to see the back of him.
It looks likely that Kai Havertz and former Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku will return to action this weekend as they shake off previous injuries.
Christian Pulisic has also returned in a recent weeks for Chelsea. The American has scored a couple of goals for club and country recently and could make an impact from the starting XI or the bench.
Tuchel will certainly play three at the back but it will be interesting to see the variant up top. With Harry Maguire struggling for form, it is quite possible that he will go with two strikers rather than just one. With the return of the bullish Lukaku it would make sense for Tuchel to play someone up with him to really put pressure on the United backline.
Chelsea are an expansive side with the ability to hurt you in all different ways, however, their strength is out wide and the loss of Chilwell is a big one. If you look at the heatmap from the Leicester game a lot of their attacks focus down the right and that is through the ever impressive Reece James who has become one of the best full backs in the country.
It could be another grim day at the office for Manchester United if they are not going to be solid.