Manchester United vs Chelsea: A high stakes battle at Old Trafford

Manchester United vs Chelsea: Introduction

Saturday evening could see the temperature soar in Manchester. Chelsea travel to face Manchester United in a game which two heavyweights of English football try to get their season going. Manchester United seem to have some momentum behind them on the back of two crucial wins. One at Newcastle United and the other, travelling to Paris to vanquish an expensively assembled PSG side.

Solskjaer will also take confidence in his head to head battle with Frank Lampard. Besting the Chelsea legend thrice last year including the league double. While Chelsea had a modicum of success, defeating a jaded and uninspired United side in the semi-final of the FA cup last year. This year both the teams have had their fair share of struggles. While Chelsea seem to be struggling to keep the momentum going once they take the lead, United have yet to win their first home game of the season. They were beaten 3-1 on their season opener by Crystal Palace before losing to Tottenham in a 6-1 annhilation. Here we take a look at how the teams could line up and what tactics they could use in this all important clash

The expected Chelsea line up vs United

Chelsea mostly line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation in the games they have played this season so far. Their last two games against Southampton and Sevilla FC have seen them use the same tactics. However, they were held to a draw both the times of asking. While offensively Chelsea has a plethora of attacking talents, it’s their defense which has made life difficult for Frank Lampard. The attacking trio of Werner, Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech has the talent and potential to run rings around the opposition teams in the Premier League. The back four has been a perennial issue for Lampard which is coming to haunt him.

What can we expect from Chelsea?

Chelsea will look to put the pressure on United right from the whistle as they know that the Red Devil back four is as brittle as their own, although United did show some semblance of improvement in their last two games. They could give goalkeeper Eduoard Mendy a possible first EPL start and play the same back four that played against Sevilla FC. The pace of Ben Chill well and his interplay with Mason Mount could trouble the United defence.

This weakness was evident in the game against Crystal Palace which was duly exploited by Wilfred Zaha. Chelsea could also switch the play to a more 4-3-3 or 4-2-4 during the course of the game in case they want to put early pressure on Manchester United. For this ploy to work, their wingers, Mason Mount and Christian Pulisic or Hakim Ziyech will have to play a huge role and work with the energetic Werner.

The role of Kai Havertz would be even more influential with him playing a triangle with both N’Golo Kante and Jorginho. The two midfielders are the engine room of Chelsea with some decisive, pin point and penetrative passing ability both have the ability to carve the defense open and this could give Havertz the chance to run at the United back four and play with the forward line. United could be exposed like they were against Tottenham before the international break, and this could open the offensive floodgates for the Blues against a team which can be as sluggish in the back as themselves.

Likely XI for Chelsea:

Mendy (GK).Azpilicueta, Silva, Chilwell, Jorginho, Kante, Pulisic/Ziyech, Havertz, Mount and Werner

The Red Devils’ Corner

After the 6-1 humbling the world was curious to see how the Solskjaer brigade will respond to such a demoralizing loss but the 4-1 win at Newcastle and a gritty performance at PSG seems to suggest the early season display could be a mere blip. The back four with the inclusion of Tuanzebe and Telles and the formidable partnership of Fred and McTominay seems to have sparked a new life into the squad.

The expected Manchester United line up:

Manchester United domestically have played the same 4-3-2-1 formation as Chelsea have. The formation changed though against a much more attack minded PSG in the mid week game at Paris as they played a 3-4-1-2 formation. The formation played at Paris not only gave them the win but also a new sense of enthusiasm to play this formation and come away with good results.

What can we expect from Manchester United?

The team looked more assured at the back with the 3 of Tuanzebe, Lindelof and Shaw playing their role to perfection especially with Tuanzebe keeping the threat of Mbappe at bay. This gave the chance to Aaron Wan Bissaka and Alex Telles a chance to run at the opposition half and be a constant menace in the wide wings. We could possibly see the combination of Fred and McTominay or Fred and Van De Beek being played.

If you cast your mind back to the last season of Champions League, when Ajax visited Stamford Bridge Van De Beek was a constant threat in the Chelsea half and created a nuisance in a highly entertaining game he could be joined in the final midfield selection in Bruno Fernandes who ran the show for United in that mid week game at Paris.

The front two could see the combination of Rashford and a debut for Edinson Cavani. While Rashford and Fernandes can cause the Chelsea back four issues with their industrious play. The combination of Fred and Mctominay can play ahead of the defense and keep the Chelsea attack at bay with both Wan Bissaka and Telles tracking back in terms of a counter attack. The role of Cavani would be crucial as the new number 7 is good in the air and can create nuisance to a brittle Chelsea backline which has the penchant to buckle under pressure when pressed hard. This is where the Wing back duo of Telles and Wan Bissaka can come handy as both have the eye for crosses and can put a decent ball into the final third for Cavani to meet their pin point crosses.

Likely line up for United :

De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Tuanzebe, Maguire, Shaw, Telles, Fred, McTominay/Van De Beek, Fernandes, Rashford and Cavani

Author: Ashwin