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Chelsea vs Manchester United Match Preview

Chelsea vs Manchester United Match Preview

Chelsea vs Manchester United Match Preview

Stamford Bridge, October 23, 2016

In what is shaping up to be a massive clash, José Mourinho and Manchester United make the trip to London to take on Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. As it always does, the main storyline revolves around the self-proclaimed “Special One”, as José Mourinho makes his first appearance at the Bridge following his sacking as Chelsea boss last year. This game has the potential to be one of the most entertaining so far in the Premier League, both on and off the pitch. Without further ado, let’s get you set with everything you need to know

Frank Augstein/Associated Press

Frank Augstein/Associated Press

Team Breakdowns

Chelsea

It was a bittersweet week for the club. The good news is that the boys in blue beat the Premier League’s other boy’s in blue, Leicester City, by a score of 3-0 (goals by Costa, Hazard, and Moses). A full match report by our own Barnabas Gwaza can be accessed here. The bad news is that the two of the Brazilians (Willian and Oscar) were in Brazil due to family emergencies. Willian unfortunately lost his mother, while Oscar is also dealing with a serious family emergency. As of writing this article, the status of both players for the upcoming match is still up in the air, leaving Chelsea minus two of their creative players. If they are indeed unavailable, expect an extremely similar line up to last week.

There is also the question regarding the use of John Terry. After the humiliating losses to Liverpool and Arsenal, Conte switched to a 3 CB formation that has seen the team keep back-to-back clean sheets. Terry was indeed fit and available to start versus Leicester, but Conte made the decision to bench him. It would seem like his role in this formation is a little murky and Conte may indeed be slowly weaning the team from being over-reliant on Terry, as it has been for much of the past decade. Expect him to remain on the bench again.

Injuries: Ivanovic, Fabregas, Mikel (questionable), Zouma (out)

Manchester United

José Mourinho’s squad come into this game 7th in the Premier League, two points behind Chelsea and some ways away from the top of the table where many predicted them to finish this year. They are coming off a momentum building 4-1 win midweek in the Europa league, but in domestic competitions are coming off back-to-back draws against Stoke and Liverpool. A potential win would be massive for them and José will have done his very best to get the troops ready in this one. Only one change is expected - Martial slotting in at the expense of Ashley Young - as José will most likely stick to his strategy of squeaking out draws away to big competition. This of course means that United legend Wayne Rooney will once again be on the bench (although he did start in their Europa League match). 

Injuries: Phil Jones (out), Morgan Schneiderlin (questionable)

Three Matchups to Watch

  1. Kanté vs. Pogba: While this isn’t necessarily a direct matchup, both players play a similar style. Pogba of course has always been known as a box-to-box midfielder that can do it all. Kanteé played a holding midfield role last year with Leicester, but over the last few weeks it seems that Conte wants him to play a role like Pogba’s. Pogba also happens to be coming off his first brace with United coming in the Europa League, so he will be entering with a bit of form. These two will both attempt to dominate the midfield matchup and whowever does win will certainly give their team a massive boost.

  2. Ibrahimović vs. Luiz: Zlatan Ibrahimović is one of the greatest pure strikers of his generation; that is a fact that cannot be disputed. Although his form has slightly cooled off after a torrid start, he is still incredibly dangerous. He sat out the midweek game so he will be rested and fresh. Assuming Chelsea line up the same way as last week, this means that David Luiz will have Ibra staring directly at him the entire game. Most Chelsea fans, myself included, would not be completely comfortable with this matchup, and Luiz will need to play a composed game to not give Zlatan any chances in front of net.
     
  3. Hazard vs. Valencia: The one-time Premier League Player of the Year looked every bit the part last week. The formation change allowing for 3 strikers has given Hazard more room to work with than ever before and it almost seemed like a lion has been unshackled. Although it is difficult to predict exactly what form of Hazard we will see in a game, it’s safe to say that he will be chomping at the bit to get back at José. Antonio Valencia at right back will see a lot of him, and will be doing his team a huge favor by containing the Belgian.

Other Notes

  • Keep an eye out for the reception José receives upon stepping onto the pitch. Chelsea fans either love him for what he once brought to the team or hate him for the state he left the team last year (and for moving to a direct Premier League competitor). There will certainly be a mix of cheers and boos and it will be interesting to hear which will be louder.

  • Fellaini and Costa are both on 4 yellow cards meaning if they get another one they will be suspended for their next match.

By: Navaneeth Ravichandran
Twitter: @navrav28

About the author

Navaneeth is currently a university student at UBC in Vancouver, Canada. He enjoys many sports other than football, especially a passion for ice hockey, as almost every Canadian does. An avid sleeper, Navaneeth only wakes up before 9am for national emergencies and Chelsea football games.

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