Chelsea vs Manchester United
Date: Sunday 5th November
Venue: Stamford Bridge
TV: Sky Sports
Chelsea host Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, with the Premier League clash representing a crucial three points for both Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte.
Whilst Manchester United will arrive in London exuding confidence following a crucial victory against Tottenham last week and then collecting three points in Europe vs Benfica, Chelsea will likely still be haunted by memories of their collapse against Roma.Embed from Getty Images
Following the second goal against them, the Blues looked bereft of a drive to win and Conte could rightly be worried about the lack of fight displayed. Nevertheless, Chelsea will be buoyed by the potential return of Kante in midfield, and will look to replicate their positive display against Bournemouth in the league last weekend.
As stated, Kante may return in this game – a player who has been sorely missed by Chelsea. Having his energetic presence back in midfield could conjure up a turn in fortunes for the London side after their lacklustre performance in Rome. Considering the form of Manchester United, it is likely that Conte will opt for a 3-5-1-1 formation if Kante is fit, and therefore playing the Frenchman alongside Bakayoko and Fabregas.
For the first time in a long while, the rest of the side does not pick itself due to some uncertain recent individual performances. Conte has key decisions to make in defence, as for instance Cahill may be dropped again following his absence last weekend. Alternatively, Rudiger may be the man sacrificed due to his errors against Roma, although his pace may be deemed necessary against the likes of Rashford and Martial.Embed from Getty Images
Morata will be the likely choice to lead the line, however he has looked rusty since his return from injury and so Conte may decide to choose Batshuayi instead – a man yet to prove himself from a starting XI position.
Mourinho will likely stay true to form when facing the big sides by operating the team as one defensive unit, ready to break on the counterattack when necessary. The big choice is whether the manager will decide on three defenders, as seen against Tottenham, or a four man defence that helped them hold Liverpool to a bore draw recently. This decision may stem from whether United’s own French maestro returns from injury – Paul Pogba.Embed from Getty Images
With Pogba involved, the likely shape will be a 4-3-3 with Herrera, Matic and Pogba protecting the defence. Meanwhile they will also be looking for Pogba to dictate play when on the ball to kick-start the counterattack. One other player who will be crucial for the Red Devils is Nemanja Matic, as his domineering presence in the midfield will help to limit the effectiveness of Hazard on the ball.
There has been a lot of criticism in the media this week of Chelsea’s decision to sell Matic, and rightly so considering his strong start to the season. The Blues can only hope that this media scrutiny does not intensify and that the Serbian doesn’t mitigate the home side’s attacking threat.
Prediction: Chelsea 1-2 Manchester United
Written by Theo Atherton-Green.