Old rivalries will be renewed on Saturday as Manchester United host Chelsea at the Theatre of Dreams. Jesse Nagel previews.
Image Copyright – Steve Haag Sports.
After each sharing a spot in last season’s top four, expectations are much higher for both United and Chelsea with both clubs making huge signings in the transfer window to go one step closer to mounting a title challenge.
So far, there have been plenty of ups and downs, but seasons aren’t defined in October with plenty of time for both English heavyweights to put themselves in the mix again at the top of the pile.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a superior head-to-head record over Frank Lampard, although the Blues did knock Manchester United out of the FA Cup semi-finals in their last encounter. With just two wins each this campaign, this tie becomes even more significant with pressure likely to ramp up on the losing manager here.
English Premier League
Saturday 24 October – 18:30
To Win Match
Manchester United 15/10 | Draw 26/10 | Chelsea 33/20
Just when the pressure seems to be at its peak, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer manages to find a way out and turn things around at the most crucial time. Against Newcastle United, the Norwegian manager made a number of changes, which were considered as strange to the public, with the likes of Daniel James, Scott McTominay, Fred and Juan Mata playing ahead of Paul Pogba, Donny Van De Beek, Nemanja Matic and Mason Greenwood, who Solskjaer later confirmed, wasn’t fully fit to play.
Despite ringing the changes, it was something we hadn’t seen very often from Manchester United this season. The Red Devils were fluid in their passing, showed plenty of quality in the final third and afforded the opposition with very few gilt-edged chances.
Marcus Rashford had one of his best performances under Solskjaer and Bruno Fernandes looked the player he was before lockdown. With the duo picking up form at the right stage of the season, it remains to be seen how Solskjaer could utilise them alongside Greenwood, who should be fit, and Edinson Cavani, who looks set to make his league debut following his move from Paris Saint-Germain in the transfer window.
Although the Red Devils were superb against Newcastle, consistency remains a big hurdle they cannot get over. Defensively, you never know what to expect from club captain, Harry Maguire, and Victor Lindelof.
After Luke Shaw’s own goal scored last weekend, new signing from FC Porto, Alex Telles, deserves a start, although new players are gradually eased in as we’ve already seen under Solskjaer.
Anthony Martial is still out due to suspension so Solskjaer’s hand could be forced regarding Cavani.
Chelsea’s difficult start to the season continued as they let a two-goal lead slip at home to Southampton, eventually drawing the tie 3-3. It wasn’t the first time that the Blues’ defensive frailties have let them down this season.
They’ve been involved in two six-goal draws in the last three matches which doesn’t bode well for when they come up against some of the opposing attackers that Manchester United have. Lampard has some of the flashiest players in the league and certainly boasts an attacking quartet to rival all frontlines in the division.
However, the Blues lack players who are ready to go to war when the going gets tough. If they concede once, the opposition always feel that they have a chance to get more from the game.
Every time Chelsea have dropped points this season, defensive individual errors have been the reason, which doesn’t help Lampard’s cause.
Luckily, the 42-year-old English boss will welcome back Thiago Silva and Edouard Mendy who missed out last week. With them in the team, the Blues are a much different team.
Up front, Chelsea still have plenty of players to hurt Manchester United and expose their defensive frailties as well. Hakim Ziyech could get his first start, while Timo Werner and Kai Havertz got off the mark in the league as well.
With Fernandes being United’s biggest threat, Lampard has shown already in his managerial career that he knows the perfect system to deal with a mobile number 10, where he brought on Jorginho and played three defensive midfielders when playing against Mesut Ozil at Arsenal.
The Blues went on to turn that game around because of that tactical switch with the Chelsea boss expected to stick with his tried and tested.
Verdict: Manchester United 15/10
Manchester United tend to raise their game against the big guns and have an incredible record over the league’s ‘Big Six’, most notably against Chelsea, who they beat three times last season.
Based on how both defences have fared this term, a goal-fest is definitely on the cards here. With more going for them at the moment and Chelsea’s squad needing a bit more time to gel, I fancy Manchester United to get the job done over Lampard.
Written by Jesse Nagel for Hollywoodbets.