This has become one of the big fixtures of the modern Premier League and this year, the focus will be on the Champions League race. An extra layer of intrigue has been added by the recent news that Manchester City will be banned from the competition for the next two seasons. This could mean that 5th place is enough for a Champions League place. Both Chelsea and Manchester United will be hoping that this is the case as it increases their margin for error.
Frank Lampard will be expecting a good performance on Monday, especially as his team have been beaten twice by Manchester United this season by an aggregate score line of 6-1. Chelsea are much better than that and they can consolidate their position in the top four with a victory. If they do triumph, that would increase their lead on Manchester United to nine points. Their form at Stamford Bridge has been an issue, but the winter break may give them a fresh start in that regard.
Manchester United will feel confident that they can get another victory over Chelsea on Monday night and close the gap to three. The news relating to their local rivals in the week will give them a boost. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s long term job prospects remain a discussion on social media, but he has managed to perform well against the rest of the traditional top six. His team sets up effectively as a counter attacking outfit and there will be gaps to exploit at Stamford Bridge. If they manage to take the three points, they will move within touching distance of their season aim and dent one of their rivals in the process.
In their last Premier League fixture, Willy Cabellero became the oldest player to feature in this seasons competition. He was 38 and 126 days when Chelsea played against Leicester City.
Manchester United haven’t scored in any of their last three Premier League matches.
It has been a breakout season for Tammy Abraham, who has managed to get into the Chelsea team and have a lots of early success. There has been inconsistency, but that is to be expected from a young striker in his first full season at this level. The extra pressure being the number nine for Chelsea does add an extra challenge, but he has dealt with it well. He currently has 13 goals to his name and the England international will be targeting the much talked about 20 landmark. That would establish him as the undisputed first choice striker at the cub for the long term. One of the doubts cast about him is his ability in big games. This offers an opportunity to cast those aside and increase his reputation with a big match moment. Manchester United haven’t been as strong at the back as they have been in recent seasons, but they have only conceded once across 180 minutes of football against the Blues. There will be expectation on Abraham to offer a goal threat and he will be the player that the visitors are worried about on Monday night. His movement will cause problems for the centre back pairing of Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof.
The issues of Manchester United’s attack have been obvious since the injury to Marcus Rashford. The club have failed to score in their last three Premier League matches and are in need of a player to galvanise them. Although it is early into his career at Old Trafford, the signs are positive as he looked to make things happen from central areas. During the match against Wolves, he attempted five shots and made three tackles, showing both sides to his game. In Portugal, he also showed impressive passing range and creativity in the final third. Manchester United will need this on Monday to break down the home side. Chelsea set up in a positive fashion that leaves them open at the back. The recent 2-2 draw against Arsenal showed this, with the first Gunners’ goal coming from a counter-attack. If a similar style is utilised on Monday, Fernandes has the tools to break them down and he will be desperate to have an early impact for his new club.
Christian Pulisic and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are stepping up their recoveries, but neither are expected to come back in time for this match. The big selection issue for Frank Lampard is whether to bring Kepa Arrizabalaga back into the team following the decision to drop him against Leicester City.
Odion Ighalo is expected to be included in the match day squad on Monday night, despite training away from the first team squad since his arrival. Nemanja Matic will be available following suspension. Scott McTominay is closing in on a return, but this game might come just too soon for him. Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford remain on the treatment table.
The favourites for this match are Chelsea, considering their higher league position and home advantage. However, they have failed to beat Manchester United on two previous occasions this season and that could weigh on their minds. This will have huge ramifications on the Champions League qualification for next season, with both teams having the ambition to earn it. In that regard, it’s a more important fixture for the visitors as they haven’t won in their last three. Despite this, a home victory seems the most likely result.
Chelsea 2-1 Manchester United