The Hard Tackle lists three players who can singlehandedly influence the tie when Manchester United and Chelsea clash on Wednesday.
Wednesday is a busy day in the Premier League, serving up six matches. The marquee fixture of Gameweek 15 also comes on the day, with Manchester United and Chelsea locking horns at Old Trafford later tonight.
The two struggling giants have been the epitome of inconsistency this season. Manchester United have lost nearly half of their 21 games across all competitions thus far this season. Six of those ten defeats have come in the Premier League, with the latest being a 1-0 loss to Newcastle United at the end of a listless performance.
On the other hand, Chelsea would have hoped for better days under the tutelage of Mauricio Pochettino. But that has not been the case for the West London club apart from a week of promise when they produced creditable results against Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City. However, the visitors will be in high spirits after getting the better of Brighton & Hove Albion this past weekend.
Manchester United and Chelsea often play out stalemates, showing how close this rivalry has been in the Premier League era. So, with a little margin of error, individual brilliance can tip the scales for one team. With that in mind, The Hard Tackle lists three players who can have a positive impact on the proceedings at Old Trafford.
These lists usually primarily feature attackers, considering their ability to singlehandedly turn a game on its head. But we are starting things differently, featuring a full-back eyeing redemption after two injury-riddled campaigns. We are talking about Reece James.
2023/24 has not been any better for James, who picked up a long-term hamstring injury on the first day of the season. When he finally returned and started building momentum, a red card forced him to the sidelines again, and he missed the game against Brighton & Hove Albion this past weekend.
The English international will return on Wednesday, eager to stamp his authority in a big game to show he means business. A match-winning performance will also positively affect his high-profile suitors, including Real Madrid. Most importantly, James will be eager to prove that he is among the best full-backs in the world.
Hardly anyone would have refuted such claims until last season. But stretched periods on the sidelines have affected his standing in the game. But with Manchester United’s defensive frailties increasing with every passing week, James can make his mark with his looping crosses that can trouble the home side’s defenders.
Our list finally moves into an attacking theme, and we will present the two strikers as contenders to be “key players” on Wednesday. First up is Rasmus Hojlund, who will likely return to the Manchester United starting lineup against Chelsea.
The duality of Rasmus Hojlund has been bizarre thus far this season. While he is one of the top scorers in the UEFA Champions League after finding the back of the net five times in as many outings, he is yet to open his account in the Premier League, with the scoring drought adversely affecting him.
Erik ten Hag cannot fault Hojlund for a lack of effort, considering his hold-up play has added an element to Manchester United’s gameplay. But the Red Devils are sorely missing creativity in the critical moments despite Bruno Fernandes’s best efforts.
But with Chelsea showing a soft underbelly throughout the 2023/24 season, Hojlund will be in contention to make his mark for Manchester United in a Premier League game for the first time this term. And who knows? Scoring his first goal in the English top flight might spark a revival for him and his team after a horrendous first half of the campaign thus far.
Our list ends with another striker, as we complete the pair with Rasmus Hojlund’s Chelsea counterpart. We are talking about Nicolas Jackson, who will be eager to return to scoring ways on Wednesday night.
Jackson was on cloud nine ahead of the international break after scoring four goals in two games, including a match-winning hat-trick against Tottenham Hotspur. But the struggles have returned in the last two games, with his finishing ability coming under the scanner again.
The Senegalese international will never be a clinical performer, considering his finishing ability. But the Chelsea striker can still torment Manchester United with his ghosting runs off the ball. That will bring his teammates into the picture. Anything over and above that will be a bonus for the former Villarreal attacker.