The Week Ahead: Anderlecht and Chelsea

Manchester United

How Jose Mourinho would have loved a similar performance at the beginning of the week to the one that United put out against Sunderland. A dominant 3-0 victory saw the Red Devils move up into fifth place but, Arsenal will have already travelled to Crystal Palace by the time you read this and may have leapfrogged United back into the hunt for the Champions League places.

This week though shifts the teams attention to the Europa League. A Quarter Final tie with Belgium giants, Anderlecht. With an automatic group stage qualification spot up for grabs, lifting this trophy, something which United have never managed, be it in this format or the old UEFA Cup, Jose will need to rotate and freshen his squad up. Antonio Valencia and David De Gea, were both noticeable absentees from the weekend’s visit to basement club, Sunderland. David De Gea, was replaced by Argentinian International, Sergio Romero. A very capable deputy, keeping his ninth clean sheet of the season. Jose had stated that De Gea had a little problem. The boss never went into too much detail on this so we can only assume he was being rested for Chelsea next weekend. Romero has played in all the Europa League games so far this season so a games practice beforehand was not the worst scenario. Valencia was given the weekend off after returning back from a hectic week away on World Cup duty in South America. You can bet he will be saved for the visit of Chelsea.

Antonio Conte’s Chelsea are the Sunday visitors to Old Trafford this week. Only 72 hours after United’s tough game in Europe, Jose’s men will have to find the extra energy to take on a Chelsea side sitting top of the League, and also well rested from having no extra-European activity to deal with this season. A full six days of training and preparation for the games in the domestic season for Conte to sort out. Mourinho doesn’t have that luxury at the moment. Games are coming thick and fast for United. Battling on two fronts at present. Eight league games are left for United to try and scrape into the top four. Chelsea at home this weekend will be a tough task. Mauled 4-0 at Stamford Bridge in the reverse fixture, Mourinho will be hoping to put one over on his old employers.

United have potentially thirteen cup finals left this season. 21 games unbeaten is a cracking record, but it will count for nothing if Champions League football is not achieved one way or another.

About the Author

John McNicoll
Southern Red and Football enthusiast.