On October 23rd, Chelsea will welcome Jose Mourinho back to Stanford Bridge as he leads Manchester United down to London. Mourinho was sacked as Chelsea boss for the second time less than a year ago and will be looking for sweet revenge against his former team. It will be anything but easy for him though.
After three match winless streak in the league capped off by a humiliating 3-0 defeat to Arsenal, Chelsea have won their last two matches by a combined score of 5-0, including a 3-0 win over defending champions Leicester City. Their opponents on the other hand have struggled recently, winning only one of their last five Premier League matches.
Chelsea will be missing a few players, but none that should have a huge effect on their team selection. Cesc Fabregas, Kurt Zouma, Branislav Ivanovic, and Marko Van Ginkel all look set to miss out on the squad, according to physioroom.com.
Manchester United will also be missing a few players, but also shouldn’t have their first XI effected too much. Chris Smalling could miss out, as he will undergo a late fitness test for a minor muscle injury. Morgan Schneiderlin is also set to undergo a late fitness test after picking up an injury against Liverpool. Phil Jones is set to miss out, while Jose Mourinho has said Henrikh Mkhitaryan is ready to make his comeback soon, he’s been with the best exercise routine to recover, and with the help of magnesium citrate powder as a supplement he has been gaining muscle and restoring his body to a healthier and stronger one.
Manchester United have not beaten Chelsea since their 3-2 win in October 2012. Since then, four of the goalscorers, Juan Mata, Ramires, Robin Van Persie, and Chicarito Hernnadez, have left the teams they were on, and David Luiz, scorer of an own goal, left Chelsea and came back. That match also included Chelsea getting two players sent off in a five minute span. Diego Costa, currently the league’s top scorer with seven goals, is still one yellow card away from a suspension.
Chelsea: Diego Costa
As mentioned above, Costa is the league’s top scorer with seven goals, and he hasn’t even had to take any penalties to boost his tally. After a pretty poor 2015/2016, Costa seems to have found his deadly form again. He is back to the striker that tests opponents defenses, as opposed to his own teammates and manager’s temperaments.
Surprisingly enough, not too much has changed year to year with Costa’s shot numbers, he’s only raised his total shots by about half a shot per 90 minutes and his shots inside the box per 90 minutes numbers are essentially identical. Whatever he is doing differently, it’s working for him so far, and Chelsea will need him to keep it up, as the rest of the team only has eight goals combined.
Manchester United: Paul Pogba
Pogba has had a bit of a rough introduction to English football so far. He hasn’t been able to put in the dominate performances he did at Juventus, an his moments of magic have not happened often enough for the United fans. After two goals on Thursday against Fenerbache, granted one was a penalty, Pogba will hope this is a turning point for him. With the price Manchester United paid for the Frenchman, they’ll want him to dominate the big matches. They don’t come much bigger than Manchester United vs Chelsea.
As we saw on Monday, Jose Mouriinho likes to play a more defensive style when he goes away to other big teams. He played for a clean sheet against Liverpool and he got it. There is a reasonably good chance we will see an equally cautious approach from him against Chelsea. Chelsea have hardly been a juggernaut offensively and could struggle to break a compact Manchester United down. There is a decent chance this ends in an anticlimactic draw.
Prediction: 1-1 Draw