Chelsea vs Manchester United: Match preview and predicted line-ups

Sunday afternoon will see two of the Premier League’s biggest clubs clash at Stamford Bridge as Jose Mourinho returns for the first time since his sacking last season. Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 10 fixtures up against Manchester United, a run stretching back to 2012, and will be hoping to extend that form when their former boss returns. In the last eight clashes, there has only been one occasion on which either team scored more than once, so it may not be fair to expect goals on Sunday, but it is certain that there will be a thrilling tactical battle as Antonio Conte’s new system is put to the test by the man he replaced.

Recent Form

After an unconvincing start, Chelsea have finally found form in Antonio Conte’s new set-up with three at the back and wing-backs bombing down the flanks. Easing to victory over Hull City and Leicester City in their last two fixtures, this will be their first real test of the system up against quality opposition. Previously, defeats to Liverpool and Arsenal did not show reasons to be optimistic for the visit of Manchester United, but recent form may give hope to Blues fans.

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United have drawn their last two fixtures at Anfield and at Old Trafford up against Stoke City, with Joe Allen’s late equaliser costing them dearly before a strong defensive display against Liverpool. Victory over Leicester City before those draws showed what this Mourinho side can be capable of, and they will have to produce that kind of display to get anything from the tie at Stamford Bridge on Sunday as their form continues to convince after spending big in the summer.

Predicted Line-Ups

Chelsea predicted starting XI                     Manchester United predicted starting XI

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Antonio Conte is expected to retain an unchanged line-up from that which successfully saw off Leicester City with ease last weekend. In Conte’s new system he is unlikely to make any changes to the back three despite the return of John Terry to full fitness. Victor Moses and Pedro are likely to benefit from the absences of Willian and Oscar and retain their places in the starting line-up.

Jose Mourinho will make several changes to the eleven which secured a draw at Anfield on Monday night as he goes for a more attacking line-up. Luke Shaw is expected to replace Daley Blind in defence whilst Marcus Rashford and Ashley Young may be replaced by Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard out wide as Mourinho opts for a more threatening attacking line-up with Rashford’s disappointing display set to cost him his place.

Injuries and Suspensions

Chelsea will continue to be without Willian who remains on compassionate leave in Brazil following the death of his mother, with Oscar’s availability unclear as he remains in Brazil following the death of his grandfather with it not yet known if he will return in time for the Sunday fixture. Conte will also be sweating on the fitness of Branislav Ivanovic, John Obi Mikel and Cesc Fabregas who all missed out last weekend due to slight knocks which continue to prove a problem for all three.

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Morgan Schneiderlin and Anthony Martial are the main injury worries for Manchester United. Both missed out on Monday’s clash at Anfield and could be forced to watch on from the sidelines with knee and muscle injuries respectively. However, Henrikh Mkhitaryan is expected to return to the fold after a thigh injury. Phil Jones remains out long-term with a knee injury and there will be fears that there could be new injury concerns from Thursday night’s Europa League clash with Fenerbahce.

Our Prediction

A lot will depend on how Chelsea’s formation handles a stronger attacking threat, with Mata and Lingard certain to test Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses out wide. In what will be a highly tactical battle, if Chelsea can produce the kind of display that they have managed in their past two games then the win could be theirs for the taking, but Jose Mourinho won’t allow that to be easy. Our prediction is a draw.

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