The Red Devils and The Blues met four times last season with the former coming out on top on 3 occasions, although it was the London club who won the penultimate FA Cup Semi-Final. Manchester United started last season with a brilliant 4-0 win over Chelsea, and even though the result states otherwise, it was a well-fought match. The season ended with both teams being level on points but Manchester United finished 3rd, credit to their superior Goal Difference.
Both teams went into the summer transfer market with the sole intent to close the gap between run-away leaders and runners-up, Liverpool and Manchester City, respectively. Should’ve been the case, shouldn’t it? Chelsea had a wonderful transfer window and looked to strengthen every position they could. On the other hand, Manchester United failed miserably, failing to sign any of their priority targets.
Solskjaer’s team tweaking paid dividends and we dominated PSG. But will Ole be able to pull off another masterclass against Lampard? Let’s see how we could line up against Chelsea.
Solskjaer has often appointed a back 5 against tougher opposition and has a 50% success rate with a 5-3-2. We saw this line-up deployed against PSG as well, as we looked to hold their merciless attacking unit. Chelsea has a more than potent attacking unit as well with the additions of Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, and Hakimi Ziyech bolstering that attack. Tuanzebe’s presence could be ever-so-important to handle Werner’s pace.
Although the academy graduate played his first match in 10 months against PSG, he looked in pristine form and he should be raring to go against Chelsea. Maguire must’ve seen our performance against PSG and it should be a jolt for him to start putting in performances if he wants to stay as a starter. Shaw seems much more suited to the LCB role, while it allows Telles to move forward and put in those dangerous crosses. The midfield battle would be key.
4-2-3-1 has been Ole’s preferred line-up and he seemed to stick to the formation and his “Best XI” until the 1-6 thrashing from Spurs. The absence of Martial could provide Cavani to make his Manchester United debut in the #9 role. Although, if deemed not ready Rashford could move up to the #9 spot, while Dan James would like to take up the LW role as he seems to be gaining confidence when played in his preferred position.
Juan Mata put in a wonderful performance against Newcastle and seems to have a telepathic connection with Bruno Fernandes. While he seems to be an undisputed starter after that performance, the playing styles of the oppositions are very different. Mata thrives against a team that likes to sit deep as he has time to weave his magic. But it’s difficult to see him coping up with the pace and tenacity of Chelsea.
He could still feature as a substitute and make an impact. Many could argue with me that Telles should be starting in place of Shaw, but I’m not sure how solid he is defensively and Chelsea has a really good attacking unit. Hence, I would take a pragmatic approach towards inducing him in a back 4. Shaw is a solid defensive LB but doesn’t provide the attacking output that Telles does. It’s good to have both options now though
This probably is what’s closest to Ole’s Best XI with Cavani and Tuanzebe coming in for Martial and Lindelof, respectively. Although we could argue that Lindelof-Maguire's partnership would never work, it’s only just to say that Bailly and Tuanzebe haven’t been available for Ole either. With Tuanzebe in the side, Maguire should look much better and he won’t have any excuses this time.
Our captain could potentially be fighting for his spot as well as his armband. Lindelof didn’t do anything wrong against PSG and Maguire will have to show why he should be picked over the Swede. We could argue that Van de Beek should be starting rather than Pogba, but as per Ole, we would see him slowly introduced to the first team. For the time being, he has to be patient, as he has been.
While Pogba has had a woeful start to the campaign, being dropped to the bench against PSG could be a catalyst for him to improve his performances. If he doesn’t improve his form, Solskjaer won’t have any excuses for picking him over Van de Beek. Pogba DID put in a good cameo in Paris, bagging an assist. But if he wants to remain a starter, he will have to earn his spot and become consistent, his biggest problem.
What to Expect from the Match
This is a tricky one as we can target Chelsea’s shaky defense, while they can target a vulnerable Maguire. Tuanzebe could be making his first Premier League start after 1 year and 18 days. Selecting the midfield could be a headache for Solskjaer and although it’s a good problem to have, he’ll have to choose the right players.
A 33-year old Edinson Cavani could make his debut at Old Trafford and it remains to be seen if he can emulate his old pal, Zlatan Ibrahimovic. On top of everything, our home record has been worrying so far and Solskjaer would be hoping for a turnaround. That being said, I’m excited about this tie and it should be a good watch.
I’m hoping and expecting a win for Manchester United. It’ll be interesting to see if Solskjaer can beat Lampard without getting any of his priority signings, while Lampard enjoyed a FIFA Career Mode Transfer Window.
Hitanshu (@TheDevilsDen_92) is a writer at large, and one of the global contributors to the Daily Manc team. He is also the creator and chief editor of The Devil's Den.
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