Chelsea visits Old Trafford on Wednesday for the first mid-week round of the premier league this season. While Chelsea won their last match against Brighton & Hove Albion, Manchester United suffered a loss at Newcastle United. With other issues surrounding both teams, a win will do wonders for either.
Here are three things to look out for.
The Blues have not won a league game since the 2012-13 season at Old Trafford. Their last victory over Manchester United in the league was at Stamford Bridge in 2016-17. Some of the setbacks were due to awful officiating. Even when Manchester United faced difficulties in form, few bad results stemmed from CFC’s excessive deference.
Last season, the visitors suffered a significant defeat against Erik ten Hag’s team in this fixture. While the Red Devils were vying for Champions League places, Frank Lampard’s side had no stakes in the match.
However, the hosts are currently last in their UCL group. Although they are the only team that has not drawn a match this season in the league, they have lost more than Chelsea. Reports indicate that the manager has lost the support of half the dressing room.
Despite Chelsea not being at their best, Wednesday’s match offers them the best opportunity to turn their fortune around in terms of performance in this fixture. Mauricio Pochettino can only hope the refereeing does not affect another Blues match against United.
This absence of Conor Gallagher, who is set to miss the game due to suspension, will undoubtedly impact the team’s midfield dynamics, leaving a void that the squad must adapt to. On a positive note, Captain Reece James’ comeback following his suspension injects strength into the defensive lineup.
However, the team faces additional challenges, with Noni Madueke, Lesley Ugochukwu, and Malo Gusto ruled out due to injuries. One encouraging development is the potential return of Marc Cucurella, which could bolster the team’s options and add depth to the lineup. Pochettino states that those nearing a return are not quite ready yet.
Nicolas Jackson’s consistent performance makes a compelling case for him to continue leading the attack. With the absence of Ugochukwu, Pochettino may opt for a midfield duo of Moises Caicedo and Enzo Fernandez, replicating their partnership seen against Brighton after Gallagher’s red card.
Furthermore, Cole Palmer is poised to make a significant impact as the #10, returning to the starting lineup after sitting out against Brighton. His creative abilities and vision in the attacking midfield role could be pivotal in unlocking the opposition’s defense and contributing to the team’s overall fluidity in performance. It could also see Raheem Sterling and Mykhailo Mudryk retaining their places.
Returning James will bolster Chelsea’s offensive and defensive capabilities. Benoit Badiashile’s commendable performance has earned him a spot as the first-choice center-back alongside Thiago Silva, forming a reliable defensive partnership.
Pochettino faces a choice with Marc Cucurella’s experience, contemplating whether to deploy him in his preferred role rather than as a makeshift fullback. This decision, however, could mean Levi Colwill may miss out, a scenario at odds with Pochettino’s apparent preference for him.
While Axel Disasi looks set to miss the starting lineup, his potential inclusion in the second half offers a valuable option. If James fatigues or additional defensive reinforcement becomes necessary, Disasi could fortify Chelsea’s backline.