Tuesday, June 28, 2022

A Complete Tactical Preview Of Chelsea vs Manchester United And Our Prediction On Who Will Win

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Dan Attwood
London based, Brighton fan.

No manager would have been more relieved about the arrival of the international break than Jose Mourinho. His side’s first eight games of the season have been riddled with criticisms and under-performance. Manchester United haven’t demonstrated the level consistency or menace that is vital to compete for a Champions League place and the team travel to Stamford Bridge this weekend, anxious that Chelsea could add to their woes.

Contrastingly, Chelsea’s transition to Sarri’s footballing style has been seamless. The Blues are unbeaten since the Community Shield and the Italian’s methods have revitalised a squad who had been burnt-out by Conte’s demanding approach. It is worth noting that Chelsea’s first set of eight fixtures have been relatively kind with both of Chelsea’s fixtures against other top-six sides being at home.


Chelsea have largely avoided any injury problems so far. Pedro has now returned to full fitness after missing the best part of three games, but Sarri’s side have had relative continuity over their first eight matches. Despite many of his first-teamers being involved in two international fixtures, it is unlikely that Sarri would choose to rotate his line-up this weekend. There will be an opportunity for minute management in the coming weeks, with lighter fixtures against BATE Borisov and Derby approaching.

There is no doubt that Eden Hazard is the talisman to the side. He possesses the trickery, speed and technique to positively influence any game and Sarri’s team are set-up in a way that suits the Belgian. Though not always requiring it, Hazard is never short of support from his teammates; most Chelsea attacks are focused towards the left side, with a central striker and Marcos Alonso providing an option on either side of Hazard. The Chelsea midfield overload the area in front of their opposition’s defensive line which allows the winger to receive the ball in threatening positions and drive into the penalty area.

Summer additions have given the Chelsea midfield balance and energy. At the base of the three, Jorginho provides the platform for Chelsea’s control of possession and has quickly become one of the essential components to the team. Undertaking a vast quantity of work, Jorginho often completes over one hundred passes, and circulates possession at high-tempo, in search of openings to feed teammates ahead of him.

The Italian’s arrival has triggered a new, more advanced, role for N’Golo Kante to use his usual dynamism to win the ball high up the field rather than recovering it from a deeper position. In partnership with either Kovacic or Barkley, the World Cup winner would hope to succeed in disrupting the Manchester United midfield who have been loose in possession and low on confidence.

Defensively, Chelsea must be watchful not to over-commit their full-backs. Long periods of possession will tempt Azpilicueta and Alonso to prolong attacks; the latter sometimes finding himself in the opposition penalty area. However, much of the Man Utd threat will come on the counter-attack and unguarded areas of space on either wing may provide United with a route to the Chelsea goal.

Predicted line-up: Kepa, Azpilicueta, Luiz, Rudiger, Alonso, Jorginho, Kante, Kovacic, Pedro, Giroud, Hazard.

Manchester United

Jesse Lingard will miss Saturday’s fixture; his energy may have provided a useful outlet to move the United team forward. There are also doubts surrounding the fitness of Shaw, Matic and McTominay. Mourinho’s most probable set-up would be a 4-3-3, with very little attacking freedom given to the full-backs and pace on either wing.

A fixture of this type has tended to bring the best out of Mourinho’s tactical intelligence, where his previous sides have thrived at nullifying the opposition. However, eight games in and Mourinho still hasn’t found a defensive mix of players that he can trust with individual defensive errors seemingly a more prevalent issue than tactical flaws. It is unlikely that we will see continued defensive experimentation this weekend, meaning that a conventional central defender including the likes of Phil Jones, Eric Bailly or Victor Lindelof are the likeliest to partner Chris Smalling, rather than Matic or McTominay. The back four should stay narrow and compact to funnel Chelsea’s attack on the wings.

Paul Pogba will be responsible for most of the creativity in the United midfield, given that he would probably have two defensive-minded midfielders positioned behind him. United must find ways to relieve the pressure on their defence and so the Frenchman, who is often guilty of trying to force naive openings, must attempt to dribble or pass through the Chelsea midfield line when opportunities arise. With defensive midfielder Kante in a more advanced position, Pogba may be able to exploit laziness from Jorginho who failed to track runs into the box in their second game of the season against Arsenal.

United do possess pace on the counter-attack, which might provide United’s best route to goal. Rashford and Martial are dangerous if welcomed to run with the ball at their feet and may be wiser selections than Alexis Sanchez. The Chilean is capable of producing moments of quality but isn’t as direct nor as defensively diligent when compared to other options.

Predicted line-up: De Gea, Young, Bailly, Smalling, Shaw, Matic, Fellaini, Pogba, Martial, Rashford, Lukaku

Watch out for: Mourinho may enforce extra measures to deal with Eden Hazard. In the past, Herrera has man-marked the Belgian to some degree of success, and a similar ploy may be used on this occasion.


Chelsea 2 – 0 Manchester United

This game is likely to be won or lost in the midfield area. Chelsea should be able to exploit Manchester United’s lack of composure in possession to overrun central areas. The Blues will press high and suffocate the United midfield of time on the ball, which should create opportunities for the likes of Hazard, Giroud and Kovacic to invent chances around the United penalty area.

Mourinho would like to frustrate Chelsea for as long as possible. The longer the game remains at 0-0, the more likely that Chelsea are to overextend themselves, which could gift United with openings to break forward in the second half.

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