It is going to be another big game between two top six clubs this weekend, as Chelsea host Manchester United. Graham Potter is an experienced Premier League manager, but this will be his first meeting against another top six team as Chelsea manager. Meanwhile, Erik ten Hag’s team have been performing well in matches like these. United have already beaten Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal this season. They will be keen to add another big win as they look to establish themselves in the top four.
Potter was a brave appointment by Chelsea, as he had never coached a Champions League club before. It is too early to judge him, as it is clear that he is still getting to know his squad. One of the impressive aspects has been the improvement of Kepa Arrizabalaga, who has been performing as one of the keepers in the division since the coaching change. He is keeping Edouard Mendy out of the team and he could be an outsider to gate crash the Spanish World Cup squad. There is more to come from Chelsea under Potter. A win on Saturday will move them four points clear of Manchester United.
It has been a dramatic week for Manchester United. A draw against Newcastle United will be looked back on as a disappointment, but the performance and win over Tottenham was one of the club’s finest in years. They were much the better team and could have won by a bigger margin. However, it has been overshadowed by the happenings with Cristiano Ronaldo, with there being a falling out between him and Ten Hag. He returned to the dressing room early and there are rumours that he refused to come on. This soap opera will continue to serve as a distraction for the club, even if he is removed from the first team squad.
- The last four meetings between these two clubs have ended in draws.
- Chelsea have only won one in their last eleven matches against Manchester United in all competitions.
This season has been quieter for Mason Mount, as he has not been able to regularly contribute goals and assists. Some began to doubt his place in the starting eleven, but he showed his quality last weekend with two goals. The first showed his awareness in the final third to capitalise on an opposition error. Meanwhile, the second was a superbly struck free kick. He will now be full of confidence and he will want to finish strongly before the World Cup. Mount is a certainty to go to Qatar, but he is less certain of a starting place. If he manages to have a good few weeks for Chelsea, it will be difficult for Gareth Southgate to rule him out. During the week, he did look less effective against Brentford. This weekend gives him the chance to perform against a big club. The platform is there for him.
Like Mason Mount, Marcus Rashford will be determined to have a very strong finish before the World Cup. He hasn’t been heavily involved for England since the defeat in the European Championship final. It has been a mixture of injuries and bad form that have seen him drop out of contention. However, he is well known to Southgate and his versatility across the forward line means he would be a good option to take to Qatar. His immediate focus will be on Manchester United and he now looks to be the first choice centre forward at the club. This is what he has wanted since breaking through. It is important that he takes this chance and starts to score regularly. At the moment, he has three goals and two assists. He will be looking to add to that at Stamford Bridge.
Reece James won’t be available until after the World Cup. Wesley Fofana and N’Golo Kante are also not going to feature before then. Conor Gallagher is a doubt for the weekend.
Cristiano Ronaldo won’t be involved with the first team for the foreseeable future. Harry Maguire and Anthony Martial are both doubts for this weekend.
This is a tough game to call. The home advantage should mean Chelsea are favourites. However, their poor recent record in this fixture coupled with Manchester United’s impressive form against top six teams this season suggests the away side will be confident. It could be a score draw, as it was in both fixtures last season.
Chelsea 1-1 Manchester United