Chelsea vs Manchester United Preview

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What a game this weekend. Chelsea host Manchester United in a season-defining match for both teams. Chelsea's aim to continue their unbeaten run that has seen them only draw twice; once to West Ham at the London Stadium and again to Liverpool at home, thanks to a Daniel Sturridge wonder-goal. Manchester United have had a torrid start to this season and have already lost three times and drawn at home to newly-promoted Wolves. Lately they've made a superb comeback from 2-0 down at half-time to win 3-2 against Newcastle United with goals from Juan Mata, Anthony Martial and Alexis Sanchez. Chelsea is a completely different beast to the still winless Newcastle as the Blues ooze class with the likes of Jorginho and Kante in the midfield and their star player Eden Hazard in white-hot form. This could either be a heart-breaking match for United fans as a defeat will almost certainly deny United any chance of the title and even put their Top Four chances in doubt or a re-vitalising result that could show the world that United is back. 

As for team news; Jesse Lingard has taken to Twitter to say that he is almost back from injury and is nearing his return to the side. Ander Herrera and Marcos Rojo are both back in training and while Herrera should be available for the Chelsea game, Rojo is still sidelined. Shaw, Fellaini, Matic, Dalot and McTominay are all doubts after suffering injuries playing or even training with their respected national teams. As for Chelsea, Emerson and Antonio Rudiger are likely to recover in time for the game, as will Ross Barkley after he suffered a minor injury for England. A significantly smaller list to the Red Devils, they should be almost at full strength - barring the injury that will keep Ethan Ampadu sidelined for the weekend at least. 

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Image from TEAMtalk
Here's the question that Manchester United fans all want to know; how can we actually beat Chelsea? The main issue is stopping Eden Hazard. The Belgium captain has been back to his usual self after leading his national side to a third place finish at the World Cup in Russia and Mourinho has used Ander Herrera as a man-marker for Hazard for the last four matches against Chelsea and so, could be recalled for that exact purpose. Another issue for United to deal with is Jorginho. He is Chelsea's deep-lying playmaker and creates all their attacks from the heart of midfield. Pressing the Italian and preventing him from having time on the ball will be a crucial factor for any chance of getting points at Stamford Bridge. United cannot afford to keep Lukaku isolated for the whole game as he will be overwhelmed and prevented from doing what he does best and getting someone near him has to be on the agenda. 

I agree with Ryan Giggs in that United have the quality to beat Chelsea and turn their season around, but whether they will or not is a different story. Jose, who will definitely be on the touchline after extending his time for a response to his FA charge, will want to get something from his old employers and needs every single player at their best in order to do so. However, it is likely that United will aim to start defensively and hit on the counter and you can only keep Hazard at bay for so long; for that reason I think this match will get to 1-1 at some point and then both teams will aim to snatch a win but perhaps United will finally have that steel in midfield and the defence to hold back the blue tide. 

Predicted Lineup: David de Gea, Valencia, Smalling, Lindelof, Shaw, Herrera, Pogba, Fred, Martial, Mata, Lukaku

PREDICTED SCORE: 1-1

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