The storylines couldn’t be more different for these two classic Premier League rivals ahead of their first meeting of season 2018/19. Chelsea’s start under new manager Maurizio Sarri has been nothing short of an exercise in both efficiency and quality, with the Blues looking formidable in defence and effortless in attack, especially with star player Eden Hazard in league leading form. By contrast, Man United’s form has been tepid, unconvincing and tame enough that calls for both manager and players to either live up to the legacy of the shirt or leave have intensified.
Chelsea v Manchester United Preview and Prediction
Fact of Interest:
- Chelsea’s have won their last 3 matches at Stamford Bridge against Man United.
- Man United’s last win at Chelsea was in October 2012’s league 3-2 league win, under Alex Ferguson’s management against a 9-man Chelsea.
- Man United have kept one clean sheet this season, away to Burnley in September.
- 44% of Chelsea’s goals this season have come in the last 15 minutes of their matches.
- 60% of Man United’s goals this season have come in final 15 minutes before both halftime and fulltime of their matches. They are yet to score in the 15 minutes following halftime.
- Eden Hazard has scored 5 goals in 16 appearances against Man United, with only 2 goals in 11 appearances in league competition. His last league goal against the Red Devils was the 3rd goal at Stamford Bridge in October 2016 in a 4-0 win.
- Pedro has scored 2 goals in 7 appearances against Man United, with 1 goal coming in his 5 appearances against the Red Devils in a Chelsea shirt. His last league goal against the Red Devils was the opener at Stamford Bridge in October 2016 in a 4-0 win.
- Romelu Lukaku has scored 3 goals in 10 appearances against Chelsea, with only 1 goal in 3 appearances against the Blues in a Man Utd shirt, the strike being the equalizer in a 2-1 win at Old Trafford in February 2018.
- Paul Pogba has never scored against Chelsea.
- Jose Mourinho is yet to win at Stamford Bridge as Man United manager, having lost all 4 previous attempts. His solitary win at the Blues came as Inter manager in the second leg of 2009/10’s Round of 16 Champions League tie.
Match Facts & Summary
|Head to Head||Chelsea||Man United|
|Current Season Record||Played 8, Won 6, Drawn 2||Played 8, Won 4, Drawn 1|
|Current Season Top Scorers||Hazard (7), Pedro (3)||Lukaku (4), Pogba (2)|
|Last 10 Competitive Matches||Chelsea 5 Wins, 3 Draws, Man United 2 Wins|
|Last 10 Competitive Matches at Stamford Bridge||Chelsea 7 Wins, 2 Draws, Man United 1 Win|
|Last Season’s Result||Chelsea 1-0 Man United|
|Match Odds (as at 13 Oct)||Chelsea Win||Man United Win|
|Draw = 2.89||0.66||4.00|
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Both sides face European home matches in the upcoming week, with the most difficult being the Red Devils’ hosting of Italian giants Juventus on the 23rd October.
While Chelsea have a full squad to call from, Man United remain undermined by injuries to Nemanja Matic, Ander Herrera, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rojo (all without specified return dates).
Expected Line-ups and Tactical Considerations:
Under Sarri, Chelsea have settled comfortably in a 433 system that is both ruthless in defence and efficient in attack. The Blues remain a very difficult prospect to contain, averaging 62% possession and nearly 18 shots per game (only Manchester City have better numbers in both categories). Fixture volume has started forcing the Italian’s hand to subtle rotations, but performances and results haven’t been affected yet.
The international break hasn’t yet given any cause for concern to Sarri’s squad, and the time in itself should mean the first choice XI will likely be fully available. Hence, expect the solid backline of Kepa, Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz and Alonso to retain their spots. The midfield should revert to the sublime trio of Jorginho, Kovavic, and Kante. It’s the front 3 that will once again pose the most room for changes. Willian has started more often than Pedro, but the latter’s experience and better productivity thus far may give the edge over the Brazilian. Olivier Giroud is quite a likely choice ahead of Alvaro Morata, given the Frenchman’s aerial abilities and current knack for assists (4 in the season thus far).
Jose Mourinho has a very difficult set of circumstances at Man United. Debates continue to rage in terms of who is to blame; some suggest that the players are letting him down, but others theorize that the malaise in the club comes from the Portuguese manager’s tactical choices and man management. The performances have been largely unconvincing, while some results (defeats to West Ham and Tottenham) seem to have come from bizarre choices in tactical variations from the 433 that’s been used most consistently by Mourinho. The team has also been extensively rotated in a manner that hasn’t inspired confidence that the core first XI is known, with the only certain starters appearing to be experienced defensive players De Gea and Smalling, a restored Luke Shaw, and – ironically – under-fire midfielder Paul Pogba.
The issue will be how best to select a side that can nullify Chelsea’s impressive midfield and attacking efficiency. De Gea, Smalling and Shaw will likely start but it’s less clear if the mixed form of LIndelof will prompt another start for Eric Bailly. Likewise, there are concerns about either veteran of Ashley Young or Antonia Valencia being able to handle Eden Hazard. In midfield, Matic should face his old club if he passes fit in time, failing which, it’s probable that either youngster Scott McTominay or underperforming new signing Fred will join Marouane Fellaini and Pogba in midfield. Up front, another form problem exists but given that the experience of Alexis Sanchez will likely win out any selection battle, it’s probable that Marcus Rashford will start alongside Lukaku and the Chilean.
The facts speak loudly in the outlook for this fixture. Chelsea’s form this season is impressive and their new manager has assembled and settled arguably the best midfield in the Premier League already. Their home record against Man United is compelling, especially since the results have not been affected by both clubs undergoing a series managerial changes since the last occasion that the Red Devils won at Stamford Bridge. And there’s Eden Hazard, who remains the league’s front running in-form star.
By contrast, Man United are in particularly dire form (1 win in their last 5 matches across all competitions). The team seems both short of confidence, and the right structures to get optimal output from their players, many of whom remain obvious stars in poor form. Mourinho has a reputation for strangling such big games to a halt, especially away from home, but the mystique that follows Man United has waned considerably that even that may not be enough to convince fans and players alike that decent results are possible.
The reality is that once again Chelsea have more than enough weapons in all departments to handle almost everything Man United could throw at them. Kepa’s shot stopping; outstanding fullbacks that can contain Sanchez and Rashford in good form, let alone the current poor form; a midfield that is superbly efficient in game control, containment and build up efficacy, and a frontline that has trickery to add to a ruthless streak. The only weakness is aerial duels, which especially with Lukaku, could be exploited to secure Man United a goal or two, but Chelsea are so strong, especially in wide areas and midfield that even that may not intimidate the Blues enough to believe that they shouldn’t leave their home turf with all three points.
Please note betting odds quoted are correct at time of publication and are subject to change. View the latest EPL Betting Odds