Jose Mourinho takes his Manchester United team back to his old stomping ground this weekend. Stamford Bridge, the venue for this enthralling encounter, on Super Sunday. Mourinho has yet to win at the Bridge with his current employers. Last season in the Premier League saw United thumped 4-0 by a rampant Chelsea side who opened the scoring after just 30 seconds, Pedro nipping in to capitalise on a defensive mix up.
The second visit to West London last season was during the team’s run in the FA Cup. This time though United played a more iron tight game. This was of course until Ander Herrera was sent from the field of play for two bookings in quick succession. A narrow 1-0 defeat, enough to send the Red Devils spinning out of the competition, one of which they were holding at the time.
United though don’t have a great record against Chelsea, in fact, they have been a bit of a bogey team during the Premier League era. Since the turn of the century, United have only climbed back onto their bus victorious, on one occasion.
Some fans are looking for a more expansive United. A team who will go all out to swat Chelsea aside like the teams faced in the first five matches of the season. We all know that Mourinho would play not to lose rather than to win, when it comes to the big games.
Not a better time for Man Utd to play Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. They are there for the taking. Mourinho just needs Lukaku firing again.
— Liam Canning (@LiamPaulCanning) November 1, 2017
Chelsea suffered a heavy defeat during the week in the Champions League. Murmurs of unrest amongst the dressing room. But even with all this, you can be sure that Chelsea will be fired up for this fixture, when the ref blows his first whistle.
Let’s take a look at the side which I would pick to face Chelsea.
Goalkeeper: David De Gea – Another clean sheet in his latest outing against Benfica. De Gea normally comes into his own during these big games, making crucial saves. The Spaniard has only conceded two goals so far this season in the league.
Right Back: Tony Valencia – Antonio Valencia has nailed down this right full back position, even with the likes of Matteo Darmian and new signing, Victor Lindelof arriving. Pace and power in abundance to get down Chelsea’s left flank.
Left Back: Daley Blind* – A problem position for United this season. Darmian, Blind and Young, have all filled in since the beginning of the season. Blind for me is much more solid and also offers a good range of passing when going forward.
Centre Back: Eric Bailly – Growing into a fans’ favourite, Bailly is now becoming a key component of this defensive unit. A warrior in the tackle and decent on the ball, the Ivorian will be charged to keep Morata quiet.
Centre Back: Phil Jones* – Jones was likened to John Terry by the manager in the summer. There are certainly elements of which you can see why. His never say die attitude and throw anything in front of the ball mentality, has made Jones an almost first choice pick.
Defensive Midfielder: Nemanja Matic – An absolute steal in the summer. Whoever sanctioned this move from Chelsea must need their head testing. Matic has slotted into life at Old Trafford like he was born to play there. He will be so important, keeping the defence well protected and breaking up play. Don’t get me wrong, this Serbian can play a bit too.
Central Midfield: Ander Herrera – No doubt that Herrera has already been given his mission. Stick to Hazard like glue. The plan was working gloriously until Herrera saw red in the FA Cup fixture. Fast forward a few weeks and a midfield master class by the Spaniard, saw Herrera keep tabs on Hazard, as well as chipping in with a goal.
Central Midfield: Juan Mata – In this formation, I would have Mata playing slightly deeper than what he would probably like. At the moment, no number ten for United is doing the business, since Pogba was injured and Mkhitaryan has most definitely gone off the boil. Mata’s craft could just be what opens up a stern Chelsea backline.
Inside Forward Right: Henrik Mkhitaryan – With the Armenian’s form slightly going squiffy, playing a little wider might just give Mkhitaryan the spark to which reignites his fire.
Inside Forward Left: Marcus Rashford – Rashford will be chomping at the bit after seeing his mate Tony Martial score the winning goal last week against Tottenham Hotspur, then follow it up by single-handedly ripping apart Benfica. The twenty-year-old, who celebrated his birthday this week, will be looking to add a little something extra, to his already decent start to the season.
Striker: Romelu Lukaku – Red Rom has failed to find the net in the last few games now and already the doubters are lining up to take pot shots. A flat track bully, cant score in the big games and other quotes being bandied about on social media, during the run-up to the game. Mourinho has no worries and insists his number nine will come good.
Substitutes: Romero, Darmian*, Young, Martial, McTominay, Shaw, Tuanzebe
* – Denotes that if Phil Jones is not fit, Blind would slot into centre-back and Darmian would play left back.
Mourinho believes that the team that wins will be the team that makes the fewest mistakes. Most would take a ‘Liverpool’ style 0-0. Chelsea could well be there for the taking. Strap yourselves in, this one is about to go off!