Chelsea vs. Man U
Venue: Stamford Bridge
Kick off: 5:30PM
One of the standout fixtures in the Premier League calendar will take place at Stamford Bridge this afternoon as Chelsea welcome Manchester United.
Chelsea are currently fifth in the table, two points behind fourth-placed West Ham United on the same number of matches, while Man United are second, 10 points behind the leaders Manchester City.
Chelsea’s form under Thomas Tuchel has been excellent, with the Blues winning six and drawing two of their eight matches since the former Paris Saint-Germain manager replaced Frank Lampard at the helm.
A top-four challenge appeared difficult in the latter stages of Lampard’s tenure, but the capital outfit have picked up 14 points from the last 18 available to rise into fifth position in the table, just two points behind fourth-placed West Ham and actually only six points off second-placed Man United.
Chelsea were held to a 1-1 draw by Southampton in the league last weekend, with Mason Mount’s penalty cancelling out a first-half effort from on-loan Liverpool attacker Takumi Minamino.
The Blues will enter this weekend’s contest off the back of a brilliant result and performance, though, having beaten Atletico Madrid 1-0 in the first leg of their last-16 Champions League contest on Tuesday night, which has left them in a strong position to reach the quarter-finals of the competition.
Tuchel’s side have four league matches before the second leg with Atletico, facing Man United, Liverpool, Everton and Leeds United, a run which might determine whether they are capable of claiming a top-four finish.
Defensively, there has been a huge improvement under the new manager, but the Blues are yet to seriously fire in the final third of the field, with Timo Werner finding it difficult to show his best form for the club.
Chelsea have not actually beaten Man United in the Premier League since November 2017, but the points were shared in a goalless draw at Old Trafford earlier this season, and it would not be a surprise to see another close contest today, with both teams expected to enter the clash in a confident mood.
The Blues are actually bidding to make it four clean sheets in a row at home in the league for the first time in over three years, while they are unbeaten in the top flight at Stamford Bridge since the start of January, when Manchester City recorded an impressive 3-1 victory.
Man United, meanwhile, will enter the contest off the back of a goalless draw with Real Sociedad in the Europa League on Thursday night, which saw them advance to the round of 16 courtesy of a 4-0 aggregate success.
The Red Devils have been handed a glamour tie with AC Milan in the next round but cannot afford to switch their focus from the league as they are very much in a battle for a top-four position, despite the fact that there is currently a six-point gap between them and Chelsea down in fifth.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have not been at their best domestically in recent weeks, winning just two of their last six in the Premier League, including draws in three of their last five, which has seen them drop 10 points behind league leaders Man City, who appear to be breezing their way to the title.
Man United drew back-to-back league games with Everton and West Bromwich Albion at the start of February before recording a 3-1 victory over Newcastle last weekend; the 20-time English champions were far from their best against the Magpies but scored twice in the second half through Daniel James and Bruno Fernandes after Allan Saint-Maximin had cancelled out an effort from Marcus Rashford.
Solskjaer’s side are entering a vital period of games as they face Chelsea, Crystal Palace and Man City in their next three league games before hosting Milan for the first leg of their last-16 Europa League contest.
Man United are also still in the FA Cup, facing Leicester City in the quarter-finals of the competition, and it could be a very successful end to the season for the club ahead of what is expected to be an interesting transfer window, with the club thought to be keen to sign both a new centre-back and a centre-forward.
The Red Devils have been excellent on their travels in the league this season, winning eight and drawing four of their 12 matches to collect 28 points and will be taking on a Chelsea side that have dropped points in exactly half of their 12 top-flight fixtures at Stamford Bridge.
Man United are also the second-highest goalscorers in the league this season with 50 goals, but they have conceded 32 times, which is far from an impressive record considering their position in the table.
Chelsea possible XI: Mendy, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger, Hudson-Odoi, Jorginho, Kovacic, Alonso, Mount, Giroud, Werner.
Man U possible XI: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, Fred, Matic, Rashford, Fernandes, Greenwood, Cavani.