Sitting atop the Premier league, four points clear and unbeaten outside of London for the entire campaign, Chelsea target an away victory at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon. The Blues are the best team away from home this season, collecting 36 points from their 16 games so far. Although Mourinho’s Red Devils have become tighter at the back and have the unbeaten run going since they last lost a league game, to Chelsea (a 4-0 humiliation at Jose’s ex-stomping ground), it has seen them drawn a staggering nine games at Old Trafford in that spell.
In a game where Jose vs his former club becomes a big subplot (some would even call it the main plot), the team selection is key and the former Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Chelsea coach has insisted that he will field a full strength eleven on Sunday. According to him, were he to field a weaker eleven, the media would ‘kill me and the football country would kill me,’ so now we surely do have a game on our hands.
Injuries and suspensions
United have several high profile names on the doctor’s table, with Juan Mata (groin), club captain Wayne Rooney (ankle), Phil Jones (toe), Chris Smalling, Ashley Young (knocks) all out.
Predicted Manchester United lineup
David de Gea endured a torrid time when these two last met in the league. He conceded after just 30 seconds and went on to concede a further 3 before it all ended. He will be taking over the reigns from substitute Sergio Romero, who started consecutive matches last week.
In defence, Antonio Valencia has missed only 5 league games this season and has been a consistent performer in the right flank for Mourinho. His work will be cut out as Eden Hazard and Pedro switch between each other in the wings.
Eric Bailly and Marcos Rojo line-up alongside each other for the third successive game and will look to stop Chelsea’s Diego Costa from getting any service.
Luke Shaw is expected to start after a great display at the Stadium of Light last weekend. He will be looking to make good on the trust placed on him by his manager after Jose had criticised the young full back for lacking the work ethic and commitment needed to play at the top level.
In the midfield, Ander Herrera makes the cut after being rested for Thursday’s Europa league game against Anderlecht. He will line up alongside Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini, with the later coming off the bench at Brussels. There will be high pressure on Pogba to perform as he will face fellow France teammate and Player of the Year nominee N’Golo Kanté, having come up well short in their previous two meetings.
In attack, Zlatan Ibrahimović will line-up against Chelsea after missing out on the visit to Stamford Bridge because of a suspension last time. Chelsea haven’t managed a clean sheet in their last nine league games and will be against the formidable Swede who has surpassed expectations this term. Zlatan will look for support from Armenian Henrikh Mkhitaryan who found has found the net in consecutive games. Jesse Lingard has been something of a regular after starting both fixtures this week but we could get to see Anthony Martial tomorrow in the starting lineup.
Martial has seen less action of late but could be the x-factor against the Chelsea side as on his day, he’s easily better than Rashford and Lingard. Be warned though, as he’s had some really quiet games as well.