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Apprentice meets Master - Mourinho's unbeaten Blues head to Old Trafford


The Skipper
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Venue:

Chelsea face Louis Van Gaal's Manchester United on Sunday, Sunday 26th, 16:00 at Old Trafford.

The Match:

Round 9 of the Premier League pits two of the most successful league sides over the last decade against each other. Chelsea have made an outstanding start to the season, remaining the only unbeaten side so far in the league with 7 wins and 1 draw, whilst also scoring the most team goals so far (23), whilst United have had a very slow start, but are now in top four contention after a string of decent results, remaining 1 point away from West Ham whom are currently 4th. They are sitting 6th in the table, 10 points off top, and a loss could potentially leave them 13 points behind the current league leaders, Chelsea. A win would be massive for United, as it would send out a statement to the rest of the league that they are on their way back to the top, and would only be 7 points away from top. Chelsea are currently 1st in the league, already maintaining a healthy goal difference of +15. A big case can be made for Chelsea in general being the most entertaining team in the league thus far, with the contrast in their attacking play compared to last season very evident with the additions of world class players in Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas.

United have won 3 of their last 5 PL games; defeating Everton, West Ham and QPR; losing to Leicester and drawing to West Brom, whilst Chelsea have won 4 out of their last 5, defeating Crystal Palace, Arsenal, Aston Villa and Swansea, whilst drawing to Man City. There is an interesting history between the two managers - with Jose serving under Van Gaal for 3 years during their time at Barcelona. Van Gaal had a massive influence on Mourinho's career - so the tactical battle between the two should be a very interesting one.

Opposition Analysis

As mentioned before, Manchester United have had a tough start to the season so far under new manager Louis Van Gaal. Their problems this season have been well documented; defensively, they haven't reinforced well enough at all considering key defensive stalwarts like Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra have all now left the club, mostly due to the fact that all of them have reached the twilights of their careers. Coupled with the fact that Van Gaal has tried and tested a system that truly exposes the back (the 3-5-2 system - which has now partly been shelved), this is almost the ideal time for a team full of the attacking quality that Chelsea have to play against United. Whilst they have spent a lot in the summer transfer window - which included the signing of Angel Di Maria for £64m - they failed to rectify their already existing problem - getting in quality defensive players. Whilst they did spend heavily on the likes of Luke Shaw and Rojo, their defence is still looking very average this season, and the likes of Hazard and Fabregas will be relishing the opportunity to split open such an ordinary defence.

With United not being in top form at the moment, a game against a top in-form side like Chelsea would be the last thing the last thing United would want but one should never underestimate the a club as big as Manchester United. As many people know - form goes out of the window in these sort of games. Chelsea still need to play well in order to win, as it is with any game.

Van Gaal's tactics:

Van Gaal has slowly moved away from a 3-5-2 formation and has gradually introduced the 4-1-4-1, and as usual, the formation slightly adapts itself in the offensive transition and the defensive transition. Van Gaal hasn't fully abandoned the 3-5-2 system as we can tell when United do move into their offensive game - the 1 behind the 4 midfielders usually drops into the hole between the CBs whilst the fullbacks push up and practically become wingers. The beauty of their system is that when it is in full flow, they can switch from 4-1-4-1 to a 3-5-2 to a 4-2-3-1 if required and I can imagine this is what Van Gaal is looking for in his final tactical product, when everything is settled.

A look at the average positions of the United team against West Brom clarifies this more [1]:

Their XI for the day was:

De Gea

Rafael - Jones - Rojo - Shaw

Blind

Januzaj - Carrick - Mata - Di Maria

Van Persie

Average positions:

fJxI6Ze.png

We can then also take a look at where United's attacks come from most frequently:

lYGJ0DU.png

Using the above two graphs, we can reaffirm that United do push up their fullbacks very high, and we have the ideal set up at Chelsea to exploit that. Obviously, Van Gaal is not naive enough to get United to attack us the same way they did against West Brom who scored twice against them exploiting these gaps in their system - they'll be a lot more conservative. It wouldn't be surprising at all if United shut up shop at least for the initial stages of the game.

Players To Watch (United):

Di Maria:

After a season where he was comfortably Madrid's best player in my eyes, United have bagged themselves a special player in Angel Di Maria. The Argentine has already shown his class and is already considered United's best player. Definitely their danger man, and it wouldn't be surprising to see if Mourinho had a special plan to contain him.

Here is a sublime goal from Angel:

vs. Leicester

GlitteringSparseAnkolewatusi.gif

Blind:

The Dutchman has settled in very nicely at United and has already become a lynchpin at CDM. He has a fantastic left foot on him. I highlight him as a player that needs to be watched as his intelligence and performance in his position will be vital if United want to gain anything out of this game. I can imagine Jose giving Oscar the job to man mark Blind as he is a very important cog in Van Gaal's system.

An equalising goal he scored in the dying minutes last game week:

Link:

http://gfycat.com/AdventurousPinkAnophelesmosquito

De Gea:

The Spaniard is an excellent shot stopper, and due to this ability of his can win or save games on his own. He has come into his own over the last few months and looks like being a key player to United's top four aspirations this season.

Team News:

Angel Di Maria looks set to feature after overcoming the thigh injury he picked up against West Brom last Monday, while Michael Carrick will miss following his release to the U-21 side. Captain Wayne Rooney serves the final game of his three-game suspension and Jonny Evans, Paddy McNair, Jesse Lingaard and Antonio Valencia are all out.

Chelsea could welcome the return of Diego Costa from his hamstring and illness after Mourinho confirmed he has a "little chance" of featuring at Old Trafford. John Obi Mikel, Ramires and Andre Schurrle are all in contention to be in the matchday squad, at the very least, after recovering from their respective injury problems. Frenchman Loic Remy will be out for 2-3 weeks with a groin injury while Cesar Azpilicueta is banned for the first of three domestic games following his red card at Crystal Palace last weekend.

Possible starting line ups:

Potential Chelsea XI:

Courtois

Ivanovic Cahill Terry Luis

Fabregas Matic

Willian Oscar Hazard

Costa

Potential United XI:

De Gea

Rafael Jones Rojo Shaw

Blind

Valencia Herrera Mata Di Maria

Van Persie

Match Facts[2]:

  • Manchester United have won only six of their last 22 Barclays Premier League games against Chelsea.
  • Chelsea have kept clean sheets in their last two Premier League games at Old Trafford. They have not kept 3+ clean sheets in a row there since a spell of five between 1968 and 1972.
  • United have had a man sent off in two of their last three Premier League encounters with Chelsea.
  • The last man to score a goal in this fixture (at Old Trafford) was Juan Mata, playing for the Blues.
  • Angel Di Maria has assisted a goal in four of his last five Premier League games for Manchester United.
  • Cesc Fabregas has been involved in eight goals (one goal, seven assists) in eight league games for Chelsea.
Betting Odds:

United WIN 15/8

Draw: 23/10

Chelsea WIN 7/5

TV:

Depending on where you are from, you can watch the match in the following channels:

United Kingdom: Sky Sports 1 HD

United States: Deportes Telemundo En Vivo, NBC Sports Live Extra, Telemundo, NBC, SiriusXM FC

India: StarSports Live Streaming

Africa: SuperSport 3

If your country/continent is not listed above then you can check out the TV Schedule for the match here.

There should also be many match streams that can be found online if your local sports channels are not broadcasting the game or if you happen to be busy and cannot catch the game live, follow TalkChelsea on Twitter as it would provide live match commentary on the action.

[1] Whoscored, WBA vs United Match Report

[2] http://www.fourfourtwo.com/statszone/8-2014/matches/755385/pre-match#EkzV6o7Y3wUbuhzD.99

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Brilliant work, Skip! :clap:

Though I'd disagree about Blind "settling in quickly at united". He still looks out of his depth at times and has been partially at fault for several of the goals they've conceded.

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Great read, thanks!

They are sitting 6th in the table, 7 points off top, and a loss could potentially leave them 10 points behind the current league leaders, Chelsea. A win would be massive for United, as it would send out a statement to the rest of the league that they are on their way back to the top, and would only be 4 points away from top. Chelsea are currently 1st in the league, already maintaining a healthy goal difference of +15. A big case can be made for Chelsea in general being the most entertaining team in the league thus far, with the contrast in their attacking play compared to last season very evident with the additions of world class players in Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas.

If United lose, they will be 13 points behind actually. They really need to get points in the upcoming fixtures, and it wouldn't be easy.

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If I were Van Gaal(so glad I'm not I hate Utd!) I'd set up like this...

Degaya

Rafael - Smalling - Rojo - Shaw

Blind

Herrera DiMaria

Fellaini

Falcao - Van Persie.

Bring on Mata for Herrera and drop Fellaini into the midfield

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I think you got Carrick confused with Herrera Skipper

so united become city now?

Great read, thanks!

If United lose, they will be 13 points behind actually. They really need to get points in the upcoming fixtures, and it wouldn't be easy.

Yeah sorry guys, quite a few errors on here. Didn't get a chance to proof read it after I submitted it a few days ago (was very late and I was very very tired :P). I've made the adjustments though, cheers for picking them out!
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Yeah sorry guys, quite a few errors on here. Didn't get a chance to proof read it after I submitted it a few days ago (was very late and I was very very tired :P). I've made the adjustments though, cheers for picking them out!

Don't forget Rooney is banned too.

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