Five things Chelsea must do to beat Manchester United
Written by: Pradyumna Tembhekar
The reigning champions will seek to improve their patchy hoe form ahead of the international break.
Premier League champions Chelsea will take on title rivals Manchester United in one of the most exciting matches of the Premier League this season on Sunday at Stamford Bridge. With both teams looking to steady their ships after a rocky month of October, both squads would look to go into the international break on a good note.
Last season, things were totally different as Antonio Conte’s side had won against ex-Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho’s United 4-0, with goals coming from Pedro, Gary Cahill, Eden Hazard and surprisingly, N’Golo Kante. Mourinho’s return to Stamford Bridge was fuelled with controversy later, when he apparently told Conte not to celebrate much as it was “humiliating” for the Portuguese.
Things have changed a year later. Two wins over United last season and a loss at Old Trafford courtesy a tactical masterclass by Mourinho means that both teams have their plans ready and were well executed last season. Also, United have won only one game at Stamford Bridge since 2002, and Chelsea have beaten them more times than any other opponent in the Premier League. So, here are the major things that Chelsea need to do to beat United yet again at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea must not let the United defence settle
Pedro netted Chelsea’s first goal in the very first minute of the corresponding game last season and no United player had haad even a single touch of the ball before that. After the goal the United defenders were seen maintaining a high line, which is not how Mourinho orchestrates his defence generally. So, not letting the United defence settle is key to scoring goals against them.
Top 5 Chelsea wins against their bitter rivals, Manchester United.
Chelsea wingers need to penetrate through the defenders
Last season there was a lot of forward movement seen from the Chelsea players which has not been seen with the same intensity as it was seen earlier. The key to keeping the defenders and the defensive midfielders guessing is to move into empty spaces between the defenders and make he most of the through balls that Tiemoue Bakayoko can provide or chase a long pass from either David Luiz or Cesc Fabregas.
A revitalised midfield Vs an injury struck midfield
The midfield battle is going to be absolutely crucial. On one side we have a United midfield that is missing Paul Pogba, Marouane Fellaini and Michael Carrick; and on the other we have players coming back from injury that too in full fitness, Kante being the major boost to Conte’s midfield. With Danny Drinkwater also back to full fitness and Fabregas along with Bakayoko to provide sublime assists, Chelsea’s midfield looks more active and faster than the current duo of Ander Herrera and ex Chelsea player Nemanja Matic. If Kante starts the game on Sunday, the chances of Chelsea winning increase exponentially given the tackling and interception maestro he is.
Stay alert while tracking back
The movement of Anthony Martial/Marcus Rashford/Romelu Lukaku. Conte had totally nullified Lukaku’s presence the last time the Belgian striker played at the Bridge, that time in Everton colours. Mourinho had started Rashford so as to outrun the back three and dribble past them. The back three need to be really active throughout the game should Martial or Rashford start over Lukaku. They can either hold a high line and lay the offside trap or sit deep and intercept while they try to dribble past them. Conte must look to improve the defence especially after the embarrassing display in Rome.
Conte needs to outthink Mourinho
The Blue fans saw Mourinho fighting again but for the first time against them.
There are two ways in which Mourinho might play this game. One is to park the bus which he did at Anfield and the other way is to play end-to-end football with high intensity, and sit back after scoring one goal. Conte, on the other hand, is struggling with his defensive options and would prefer winning at this moment rather than keeping a clean sheet. Plus Mourinho did find the key to stopping Chelsea and that was to mark Hazard. So, if Conte plays an advanced tactical game against his predecessor then the Italian might have another opportunity to “humiliate” his nemesis.
Published: Sun Nov 05, 2017 12:00 AM IST