Manchester United will be aiming to bounce back to winning ways when they face off against Chelsea at Old Trafford this midweek in the Premier League.
The tough games keep on coming for Manchester United as they get set to take on rivals Chelsea after two difficult encounters against Liverpool and Arsenal. Having lost both of those matches, the Red Devils will be hoping to avoid a hat-trick of defeats when they welcome the Blues to Old Trafford on Thursday night.
The losses against Arsenal and Liverpool meant that Manchester United’s hopes of a top-four finish are all but over as they are in sixth place, six points shy of Arsenal in fourth, who also have a game in hand. But with West Ham pushing from below, Ralf Rangnick’s side need to pick up positive results to ensure they finish in the top six at least.
Chelsea, meanwhile, have been well below their best of late. Having succumbed to a shock home defeat to Arsenal last week, the Blues just about managed to eke out a win over West Ham United, securing a narrow 1-0 victory. With Arsenal and Tottenham not very far away, Thomas Tuchel’s side will need to bag another win or two to avoid getting dragged into the top-four battle.
The reverse fixture had ended in a 1-1 draw, with Jadon Sancho and Jorginho scoring second-half goals. Ahead of this heavyweight encounter at Old Trafford, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.
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— Manchester United (@ManUtd) April 27, 2022
Manchester United have been dealt a couple of fresh setbacks as Jadon Sancho is ruled out due to illness while Harry Maguire also misses out with injury. Fred, Paul Pogba, Luke Shaw, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Edinson Cavani remain unavailable for selection for the home team.
Manchester United are expected to continue in the 4-3-3 formation that Ralf Rangnick has preferred for the majority of his stint as interim manager. David de Gea will be the undisputed starter in goal while Maguire’s injury means Victor Lindelof and Raphael Varane should start in defence again. Diogo Dalot and Alex Telles should continue to slot in as the full-backs for the home team.
Former Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic should occupy the No. 6 position for Manchester United, with Scott McTominay providing him support in the defensive phases. The playmaking responsibilities will, as usual, fall on the shoulders of Bruno Fernandes, who needs to step up after a lean patch over the past couple of months.
Sancho’s unavailability could pave the way for Marcus Rashford to start and make a point with a solid performance. Anthony Elanga is a certainty on the right flank, while Cristiano Ronaldo will continue spearheading the Manchester United frontline.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): De Gea; Dalot, Varane, Lindelof, Telles; McTominay, Matic, Fernandes; Elanga, Ronaldo, Rashford
In a boost, Antonio Rudiger and Reece James have returned to training for Chelsea and could be available for the trip north to Manchester. Andreas Christensen is also closing in on a return for the Blues. But Callum Hudson-Odoi, Mateo Kovacic and Ben Chilwell remain unavailable for selection for Thomas Tuchel.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) April 27, 2022
Both Rudiger and James ought to return to the starting XI on Thursday, with the latter slotting in on his natural right wing-back slot rather than occupying the right-sided centre-back position. Instead, Trevoh Chalobah, Thiago Silva and Rudiger should form the three-man backline that will shield Edouard Mendy in the Chelsea goal.
James starting at wing-back should allow Ruben Loftus-Cheek to relocate into his preferred midfield position. He could be partnered with N’Golo Kante, with Jorginho dropping to the bench. Meanwhile, Marcos Alonso remains the obvious starter out in the left wing-back role for Chelsea.
Mason Mount will be the primary creator in the final third for the Blues and will carry a goal threat himself with his driving runs. Christian Pulisic scored the vital winner against West Ham United but is unlikely to start at Old Trafford as Tuchel could stick with the pairing of Kai Havertz and Timo Werner up top. Former Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku should get some minutes off the bench on his return.
Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Mendy; Chalobah, Silva, Rudiger; James, Loftus-Cheek, Kante, Alonso; Mount; Havertz, Werner
- Chelsea have won just two of their last 12 matches against Manchester United in all competitions, with both victories coming in the FA Cup at Wembley Stadium.
- Manchester United have lost five of their previous eight matches in all competitions.
- Chelsea are winless in eight Premier League meetings against Manchester United since November 2017. They have won only one of their last 13 games at Old Trafford in all competitions (D6, L6).
- Manchester United have lost ten of their 34 Premier League matches this season – their second-highest number of defeats in a single season in the English top-flight after 12 in 2013/14.
- Chelsea are on a club-record run of eight consecutive away wins in all competitions. The Blues have accumulated 36 points away from home in the Premier League this season, with only Manchester City (39) managing more.
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Cristiano Ronaldo is just 4 goals away from scoring 700 club goals 🤯 pic.twitter.com/38j8zHpPvK
— The CR7 Timeline. (@TimelineCR7) April 27, 2022
Despite being termed as the ‘problem’ for Manchester United this season, Cristiano Ronaldo’s goals have been pivotal to them still standing a chance of finishing in the top-six even though hopes of a top-four are all but over. Indeed, Ronaldo has scored seven of Manchester United’s last eight Premier League goals, including each of the last four.
The 37-year-old Portuguese maverick is the leading home goalscorer in the Premier League this season. He has a tally of 12 goals at Old Trafford, including a hat-trick in each of his last two home league games. Ronaldo will again be pivotal to Manchester United’s hopes of getting a positive result against Chelsea on Thursday night.
Manchester United 1-3 Chelsea
Chelsea have been far from their best and were beaten by Arsenal last midweek. They just about managed to return to winning ways this past weekend, relying on a last-ditch winner from Christian Pulisic. However, in Manchester United, they will face a team who are in dire straits and are going nowhere.
Ralf Rangnick’s men looked utterly poor in their last two games against Liverpool and Arsenal and had just about managed to beat Norwich City in the match before that. They have won just twice in their previous ten games in all competitions. And that record is unlikely to improve on Thursday night, with Chelsea expected to put them to the sword. The Hard Tackle predicts a comprehensive victory for the Blues.