28th April, 2019
Old Trafford is the venue. The actors are the hosts, Manchester United and Chelsea. Target is a place in the top four positions on the Premiership Table. Who will be the victor and who will end up the vanquished? 90 minutes shall tell.
Man Utd and Chelsea face each other in a few hours from now in a match that could possibly determine which of the two finishes in the Premier League’s top four.
This particular match has been made even more important with the unexpected losses incurred by the other two direct contestants for the top four as Tottenham and Arsenal inexplicably failed to win their own matches.
As a result of Arsenal’s loss just a few hours back on the road at Leicester City, Manchester United now has the chance to leapfrog the Gunners in fifth – and move level on points with Chelsea, even though Maurizio Sarri’s side boasts a more favourable goal difference.
Things are surely not looking good at United after winning 14 of the first 17 matches under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer across all competitions only to have their recent form nose-dive in an alarming manner. They have somehow managed to lose seven of their last nine games.
Today’s match will determine if the hosts will be returning to winning ways or continuing on the downward trend that has engulfed them in the last few weeks.
It is actually a real surprise that they are still within a touching distance of making a top four finish after their recent losing streak. One wonders what would have happened to their position on the table if they had managed to win even three of their last seven games.
United manager Solskjaer is likely to name the same back-three/full-back combination that started against Man City in midweek as a result of the fact that players like Ander Herrera and Phil Jones will not be available for this match as a result of injuries.
That naturally paves the way for Matteo Darmian to start a second match in succession, having only featured six times previously all season. Scott McTominay – who was a surprise exclusion from the derby with City – could also return to the side.
Chelsea, meanwhile, will be missing the services of Callum Hudson-Odoi after the winger ruptured his Achilles in the draw with Burnley at Stamford Bridge last time out.
Apart from him, N’Golo Kante (rib) and Marcos Alonso (glute injury) are also doubts, but Antonio Rudiger is likely to be available after a knee problem.
The expected line-up for this crucial game should look as follows:
Man Utd XI: De Gea; Darmian, Smalling, Lindelof, Shaw; Matic, McTominay, Pogba; Lingard, Lukaku, Rashford
Chelsea XI: Kepa, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Luiz, Emerson, Kovacic, Jorginho, Loftus-Cheek, Pedro, Higuain, Hazard
The way the situation stands at the moment, neither side can afford to lose this particular game and so it looks like one bound to end in a stalemate even though there is a little possibility of Manchester United coming out tops at the end of hostilities.