Manchester United will be travelling to West London for their upcoming Barclays Premier League fixture against Chelsea. If United can manage a win against Chelsea, it would give the squad and Van Gaal, in particular, a huge boost for the rest of the season.
The Red Devils are fifth on the points table in EPL with 40 points, chasing the tail of Arsenal, who are five points clear. United’s worries come from West Ham Club, which is lagging one point behind.
Though United beat Stoke City comprehensively in their previous fixture, they know that playing against Chelsea won’t be as easy. The two clubs drew in their first meeting, each side being unable to showcase an impressive performance.
The giants of Manchester are already out of the UEFA Champions League but have qualified for Europa League after finishing in third place of UCL group stage. The top four teams in Premier League are battling hard for the title and Champions League qualification. If United want to get there, they will have to dominate Chelsea to prove to themselves that they are well capable of doing so.
We take a look at the best starting XI for United against Chelsea to get the most out of this decisive match:
CENTER BACK: (BLIND, SMALLING)
United have gone with Chris Smalling and Daley Blind as centre-halves for most of the season. Without Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo, United have done exceedingly well in the defence department, keeping 12 clean sheets in Premier League, as compared to Leicester’s eight and City’s 11. Both Smalling and Blind have been rock solid in front of their goal, and there is no need to doubt their abilities. Van Gaal is at a stage where he cannot take further risks either.
FULLBACK: (JACKSON, DARMIAN)
Luke Shaw is, of course, out with a broken leg and United have managed without him for most of the season. Antonio Valencia’s latest injury comes as a concern while his urgent replacement, Borthwick-Jackson, has not been the cause of too many concerns. The only two availabilities for United at fullback positions are, thus, Jackson and Matteo Darmian, the Italian. Darmian has featured in 19 Premier League games without a goal or an assist.
CENTRAL MIDFIELD: (CARRICK, SCHNEIDERLIN)
Michael Carrick has made a strong comeback in the Stoke game, and he will be featuring against Chelsea. Carrick, the veteran, has not been able to make any substantial contributions in this season where he remains goalless as well as without any assists to his name which is below par compared to his standards. Carrick’s primary duty is to stay in front of his goal. In the absence of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Carrick has the experience needed to outplay players like Matic and Fabregas. His partner in midfield against Stoke was Fellaini. Fellaini may be very physical and energetic, but Morgan Schneiderlin’s abilities to read the game intelligently and better defensive support make him a more likely option to feature against Chelsea.
WINGS AND ATTACKING MIDFIELD: (MARTIAL, MATA, LINGARD)
Mata and Martial have been the stars of attack in United, creating several chances and scoring goals. Lingard should join them in the midfield ahead of both Januzaj and Depay, simply because Lingard is more creative with good ball control. Depay has not registered a single assist in 18 BPL appearances while Lingard has scored three goals in only 11 appearances. Januzaj does not bag enough quality and experience to challenge Lingard’s place, in particular, against an opponent like Chelsea.
United have never thought about bringing in another striker neither will they think about it, as long as Rooney is providing his services to the club. He still is the highest goal scorer for United in all competition, with 14 goals in 30 appearances.
GOALKEEPER: (DE GEA)
David De Gea has nine clean sheets in this season, only two behind Joe Hart, who is top of the chart with 11 clean sheets.