Last time around when the Blues visited Old Trafford, Jose Mourinho delivered one of his best tactical game plans in recent times to completely dismantle Antonio Conte’s team. A show of statement, desire, passion, and relief followed that game as the Portuguese boss got one over his former employers.
But Mourinho’s men were beaten at Stamford Bridge early in the season. And since then, the managers have engaged in several heated exchanges of words, jibes. It is safe to say that the stakes are really high currently and both managers hate to lose, to say the least. Let us look at three sets of players who would directly affect the outcome of the game:
Paul Pogba vs N’Golo Kante:
Pogba has faced a lot of flak in recent games as the enigmatic Frenchman has looked completely out of sorts. Alexis Sanchez and Pogba are yet to play a full game together and that has certainly raised some eyebrows amidst the media and fans alike. However, it is highly unlikely that Pogba will sit out of this game.
Especially when United have lost the likes of Marouane Fellaini and Ander Herrera, two players, who were extremely crucial in the demolition of Chelsea in April last season. In such a case, the Frenchman would have to boss the field like he was doing so efficiently until a few weeks ago. With his quality and temperament, it is clear that the former Juventus player needs to step up in this game particularly.
Standing in his way would be Kante whose superhuman work-rate and unmatched desire is something which will be extremely crucial for Conte’s troops. Kante will be incessantly running to stop Pogba, something that Mousa Dembele did just a couple of weeks ago.
Interesting battle, this!
Eden Hazard vs Scott McTominay
Ander Herrera suffocated Eden Hazard of oxygen or any space in the final third or even in the midfield in the last league match between the two teams at Old Trafford. Hazard is more often than not the creative source for Chelsea in every game.
His ability to create a goal-scoring opportunity out of nothing makes him the most important member on the field for the Blues. Indeed, without his presence, everything looks doomed and unplanned in the attacking end of the pitch. Mourinho devised the perfect game plan by marking Hazard throughout the duration of the game by utilising Herrera’s tenacity and concentration.
This time though the Spaniard suffered an injury in the game against Sevilla and Mourinho might place that responsibility upon Scott McTominay. The academy product has risen to prominence under Mourinho and hence it should be unsurprising if he starts the game against Conte’s men. Scott quite effectively dealt with Sevilla’s midfield in the midweek and expect the lad to do the same again.
Alexis Sanchez vs Cesar Azpilicueta:
Shove aside any doubts over Alexis Sanchez’s form at Manchester United or the drawbacks of his move to the team. Sanchez instils the team with an undying dedication, passion, quality, and energy. These are the attributes every team should have while facing a big opponent and United have struck gold by luring the Chilean to Old Trafford.
His tendency to create chances, score goals and effectively track back to bring the ball forward just demonstrates his commitment to the team. He has struggled a bit, probably because adjusting to a new team and different playing style will require some time.
However, put a challenging opponent in front of him and the undying spirit in Sanchez to secure a win for the team will roar to the surface. He will play from the left flank today and will square up to Azpilicueta on multiple occasions.
The Spanish defender is tactically brilliant especially in one on one situations and Sanchez will have to be on the top of his game.