Manchester United host Chelsea in what could turn out to be a title-deciding game at the Old Trafford. Chelsea kept their nerve against Manchester City and Bournemouth in the last two games and it seems likely that the Red Devils won’t be able to stop the Blues. A loss for Manchester United might see them drop down to 6th or even 7th as Arsenal play Middlesbrough while Everton play Burnley.
Manchester United have lost both the times they faced Chelsea earlier this season. Here are three key battles which could decide the game.
Zlatan Ibrahimović vs David Luiz
David Luiz has been more than decent defensively this season and will be partnered by Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta. Luiz’s cross field balls in the recent games have been excellent. He has the ability to put the opposition on the back foot with a 50-60 yard diagonal from the back.
The 29-year-old will have a big challenge against Zlatan who has been really good this season scoring 17 goals and has 4 goals and 3 assists in his last 6 Premier League games. Zlatan often attacks through the right channel but with his former teammate Luiz at the centre, he might try to play through the middle knowing the Brazilian’s defensive frailty.
Conte should be wary of the threat that Zlatan possesses and ask his centre-backs to shuffle in accordance and see to it that they keep the threat of the Swede at bay.
Paul Pogba vs N’Golo Kanté
Both have had a contrasting season at their respective clubs. The battle between Kanté and Pogba is likely to decide the outcome of this game. It will be interesting to see who comes out on top.
Kanté has been excellent in the last few games and has not only been defensively good but has also improved in his ball distribution. Paul Pogba will have to see to it that Kanté doesn’t get enough time and space in the middle of the pitch while the same is also true for Kanté as he must ensure that Pogba is not allowed space to shoot and is closed down as early as possible.
Kante’s compatriot has fired shot 88 times on goal this season but has an abysmal conversion rate striking the frame a number of times.
Diego Costa vs Eric Bailly
Eric Bailly has settled into the Manchester United’s back-line quite seamlessly and has been one of the key elements in the defence.
Bailly will face a real test in the form of Diego Costa. The 23-year-old failed to keep the Spanish striker silent during their last game which Chelsea won convincingly. Costa’s physical game and his trickery was just too much for the Ivorian defender.
Bailly has a daunting task to stop Costa and Mourinho will be hoping that the African will do the needful to stop the threat that the Chelsea attacker possesses.