“A win for United will get them closer to magic number of 40 points and eliminate any relegation fears,” says Mary Waltz. “How the mighty have fallen.”
They haven’t fallen that far, at least not yet.
“Man Utd drew away to Liverpool at Old Trafford?” sniffs Alec Smith.
They played like the away side that day. That’s not a criticism; they did it brilliantly.
Harry Gregg died yesterday at the age 0f 87. He was a hero in ways that shame our silly modern lives, and it’s telling that most tributes dwelt even more on his character than his enormous football ability.
There’s no recall in the Chelsea goal for Kepa Arrizabalaga, with Willy Caballero keeping his place. Tammy Abraham is injured so Michy Batshuayi starts up front.
Eric Bailly plays for the first time since Manchester United’s match against Chelsea at Old Trafford in April. Odion Ighalo is on the bench.
Chelsea (4-3-3) Caballero; James, Christensen, Rudiger, Azpilicueta; Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic; Pedro, Batshuayi, Willian.
Substitutes: Arrizabalaga, Zouma, Alonso, Tomori, Barkley, Mount, Giroud.
Manchester United (3-4-1-2) de Gea; Bailly, Maguire, Shaw; Wan-Bissaka, Fred, Matic, Williams; Fernandes; James, Martial.
Substitutes: Romero, Jones, Dalot, Mata, Pereira, Ighalo, Greenwood.
Referee Anthony Taylor.
Hello and welcome to live coverage of Roy Keane v Jamie Carr… sorry, of Chelsea v Manchester United from Stamford Bridge. It’s a pretty big game, this, in the race for fourth/fifth/whichever place will ensure a share of next season’s Champions League coin.
Chelsea are fourth at the moment, a point ahead of Spurs in fifth and six ahead of United in ninth, but their home form has been dodgy for most of the season. Southampton are the only other Premier League team to have picked up more points away than at home, and Chelsea failed to beat 10-man Arsenal in their last game at Stamford Bridge. What started as a slight tactical problem is in danger of becoming a mental block. This would be a very good time to get over it: in the next nine days they host Manchester United, Spurs and Bayern Munich.
Manchester United’s away form isn’t exactly tickety-boo, either. They have managed 12 points and 12 goals in 12 league games, which is admirably symmetrical but a little incongruous for a team whose main/only strength is counter-attacking. But they have also won twice at the Etihad, drew away to Liverpool at Old Trafford and beat Chelsea here in the Carabao Cup.
Marcus Rashford scored both goals that night. Since his injury United have scored precisely no goals in three league games. (Yes, they did beat Tranmere 6-0 in the FA Cup, but why don’t you behave yourself.) The new signings Bruno Fernandes and Odion Ighalo will hope to change that.
Kick off is at 8pm GMT.