Chelsea vs Manchester United: Probable Lineups, Prediction, Tactics and Key Stats

Jose Mourinho returns to his old stomping ground as Manchester United travel to face Chelsea in the ninth game-week of the English Premier League.

Chelsea started the season, not with a bang, but with pockets of consistent bursts but soon saw their improving form arrested as they went up against Liverpool and Arsenal. Conte would be disappointed with the Blues performances against the big sides, with Chelsea losing both the fixtures with a scoreline of 2-1 and 3-0 respectively. The Blues have since found a bit of form with a couple of wins under their belt and would hope to avoid a repeat of the flaccid display against Arsenal when Manchester United visit Stamford Bridge.

Manchester United, like Chelsea, started well but with more oomph than their counterparts. Three wins in a row saw Mourinho’s men being hailed as a revamped side. But a defeat in the Manchester derby sent everything downhill for the Red Devils as they seemed unprepared to react to the City loss. But Mourinho has since started a revolution, the first glimpse of which was seen in the 4-1 demolition of Leicester City and was more clearly evident in the 1-1 draw against Stoke.

Mourinho played out a tactful 0-0 draw at Anfield and followed it with a 4-1 thumping of Fenerbahce in midweek, extending their unbeaten run to six games. Now, the Portuguese would look to arrest a woeful United record against Chelsea in the recent past come Sunday as The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both the teams.

Team News & Tactics


There are doubts as to whether Conte would choose to field Brazilian duo Willian and Oscar, who were sidelined due to personal issues. The duo stayed back in Brazil due to the demise of the former’s mother while the latter also attended a family bereavement. It is doubtful if they will be in the best of mental states right now to tackle an opposition like Manchester United.

Cesc Fabregas and Branislav Ivanovic are out with a thigh injury and a muscle sprain respectively while Kurt Zouma is slowly coming back to full fitness but the United game is likely to come too early for him.

Elsewhere, there is some good news as John Terry looks to have regained match fitness after being sidelined for a long time and could start against United.

Conte has stuck with 3 men at the back and it seems to be working as Chelsea are yet to concede with the aforementioned setup. But Mourinho is likely to come well prepared and knowing Conte, he could have a surprise or two planned and may decide to go for a back four.

But, at this moment, the Italian is likely to go bold and retain the formation in hopes of it working wonders again, albeit, this time against a comparatively better opposition.

Probable Lineup (3-4-3 / 3-2-2-3): Courtois; Azpilicueta, Luiz, Cahill; Moses, Matic, Kante, Alonso; Pedro, Hazard, Costa

Manchester United

Jose Mourinho had said during mid-week that Mkhitaryan needed to work more in order to gain match fitness. And according to news coming out from the club, Wayne Rooney and the Armenian have not travelled with the United squad to face Chelsea.

Wayne Rooney started in the mid-week game and is likely to be used sparingly by Mourinho, as has been the case in recent matches. The United captain has gone six games without scoring against Chelsea and is set to not feature at all in the Sunday clash.

Chris Smalling came off at half-time with complaints of a muscular sprain and is likely to be assessed prior to the match. The rest of the squad, barring Phil Jones, does not seem to have any issues as Jose Mourinho goes into the Chelsea game with almost a fully fit squad at his disposal.

There were mixed feelings about Mourinho’s tactics against Liverpool. Some appreciated the way the Portuguese nullified the menacing Reds attack while others lamented that the display was just a mere modification of the bus tactic often deployed by the manager during his Chelsea reign.

Many experts are expecting a repeat of the last game in terms of tactics for Manchester United but it is highly unlikely that Mourinho would set his team up the same way for two games in a row. Add to that the fact that Liverpool were on a roll while Chelsea seem to be n a situation akin to Manchester United itself.

The Portuguese might just decide to remind them of the Leicester City performance but it is debatable as to which tactic Mourinho would prefer in front of a Chelsea crowd, which used to be his home for a long period in his career.

One thing is for certain – Mourinho will be set to retain the core of De Gea, Bailly, Pogba while players like Herrera, Blind, Rashford and Mata are likely to get into the starting lineup based on their form. With reports of Rooney not being included in the matchday squad, Zlatan is more or less confirmed as the frontman.

Carrick could be a surprise inclusion if Mourinho does decide to explore the 4-3-3 formation with Herrera and Pogba on either side of the veteran. But the selection looks unlikely with Carrick having played during the mid-week.

Probable Lineup ( 4-3-3 / 4-2-3-1 ): De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Smalling, Blind; Fellaini, Herrera, Pogba; Rashford, Mata, Zlatan

Key Stats:

1. 16 – Manchester United have lost more Premier League fixtures against Chelsea than any other club.

2. 1 – Mourinho has managed only 1 game at Stamford Bridge as an opposition manager. The Portuguese visited as the Inter Milan boss in March 2010 and knocked Chelsea out of the Champions League.

3. 2 – Zlatan has scored in each of the last two meetings against Chelsea during the Swede’s time at Paris Saint-Germain when they faced off in the Champions League knockout stage.

4. 14 – Jose Mourinho’s tally from his first eight games at Man United is the Portuguese’s lowest recorded in his debut season at a club since the 10 points tally accrued by the boss at Uniao de Leiria.

5. A win for Manchester United would see them climb above Chelsea while a win for the Blues would see them go over Tottenham.


Chelsea 1 – 3 Manchester United

A perfect blend of youth and experience, the duo of Rashford and Zlatan is likely to be the key pillars of United's success against Chelsea on Sunday. (Picture Courtesy - AFP/Getty Images)
A perfect blend of youth and experience, the duo of Rashford and Zlatan is likely to be the key pillars of United’s success against Chelsea on Sunday. (Picture Courtesy – AFP/Getty Images)

The Hard Tackle refuses to believe that the fixture would turn out to be a dull affair. Diego Costa is in sublime form and is likely to keep his run going against the Red Devils. But Mourinho could very well shut doubters of his ability and of his club’s title prospects by delivering a performance more similar to the one against Leicester City than the one against Liverpool.

Chelsea have had their fair share of sloppy possessions while trying to play out from the back and The Hard Tackle feels Conte’s decision to retain the 3-man defence, if he indeed chooses to do so, is likely to be the reason for their defeat against Manchester United on Sunday.

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