Chelsea, Man Utd set for crucial match in race for top four

Manchester unbeaten in last five games, Chelsea have not lost since Potter arrived last month.

Who: Chelsea vs Manchester United
Where: Stamford Bridge, London, UK
When: 5.30pm (16:30 GMT)

Manchester United head to Chelsea on Saturday afternoon for what promises to be a key game for a top-four finish.

The match sets the scene for a mouth-watering tactical clash between new managers Erik ten Hag and Graham Potter.

The recruitment of both men by their respective clubs signals a move away from big-name managerial signings, and their calming touchline presence suggests a departure from the heated rivalries that reached its height during the reigns of Antonio Conte and José Mourinho.

Wednesday’s win makes it five games undefeated for Ten Hag since the 6-3 derby defeat to Manchester City. Manchester United will also have been buoyed by a disciplined 2-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday.

They are currently fifth in the Premier League, just one point behind Chelsea who are in fourth.

Chelsea remain undefeated since Potter arrived in September and head into today’s fixture with five clean sheets in all competitions.

The two sides are separated by just a point in the league [Phil Noble/Reuters]

A key game for Erik ten Hag

Ten Hag, who has been in charge of Manchester United since the start of the season, lost his first game at home to a Brighton team then managed by Potter.

A loss to Chelsea will undoubtedly heap pressure on Ten Hag, who, despite impressive wins against Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool, has overseen a 4-0 drubbing by Brentford and a string of lacklustre performances in the Europa League.

Two consecutive wins against big-name teams will go a long way in building trust in Ten Hag’s vision for Manchester United.

The last four head-to-head matches have been cagey affairs that have ended in draws, but it was Chelsea who last won the fixture 3-1 in a 2020 FA Cup semi-final clash.

Ronaldo not in squad

Cristiano Ronaldo, meanwhile, will not be in United’s match-day squad after the forward stormed down the tunnel and left the stadium before the final whistle against Tottenham on Wednesday.

The Manchester United manager has since labelled his behaviour “unacceptable”. The forward, who scored 24 goals in all competitions last season for United, has only made two Premier League starts this season.

Cristiano Ronaldo vs Spurs
Manchester United’s Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo was not played during his side’s clash with  Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford on October 19, 2022 [Oli Scarff/AFP]

Likely lineups

Chelsea

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang looks set to start up front after being rested in their goalless draw against Brentford on Wednesday.

Mason Mount and Raheem Sterling will likely play behind Aubameyang. Conor Gallagher is out with illness so Mateo Kovačić looks set to replace him in midfield, where he will be joined by Marc Cucurella, Jorginho and Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

Kalidou Koulibaly, Trevoh Chalobah and Thiago Silva will make up the back three in Potter’s preferred 3-4–2-1 formation with Kepa Arrizabalaga in goal.

Manchester United

Anthony Martial will miss the game due to a back injury, so Marcus Rashford will likely start up front with Jadon Sancho, Antony and Bruno Fernandes in attacking midfield. Christian Eriksen will be benched.

In defensive midfield, Ten Hag will look to Casemiro, who has brought stability to the team since signing from Real Madrid and Fred.

A back four will likely include Diogo Dalot, Raphaël Varane, Lisandro Martínez and Luke Shaw, with David de Gea in goal.

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