Chelsea v Manchester United
Stamford Bridge, Sunday, November 28th kick off 4:30pm

by John Spillane

Thomas Tuchel’s top of the table side, with a record of W9, D2, L1 from their opening 12 games, welcome the Michael Carrick led (P1, W1) eighth placed Manchester United (12 points adrift) to west London on Sunday afternoon.

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Since Tuchel took over the reins from Frank Lampard in January almost everything has gone to plan. The Champions league final success was a good start, following on the back of the disappointment of an FA Cup final defeat, but their league form has also picked up. Despite the recent absence of Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner they have continued to score goals. Significant contributions have come from previously unlikely sources such as Trevor Chalobah, Reece James and Ben Chilwell. Due to the success of the back three central defensive set up James and Chilwell are given licence to act as auxiliary wingers, taking advantage of the incisive passing of Mason Mount in particular. He imminent return of Lukakau will ensure that their current dominance of possession shows on the score sheet.

Last weekend’s 4-1 loss at Watford was the final straw for the Old Trafford decision makers and what had appeared in recent weeks to be a decision waiting to happen was finally made. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s time in charge was over and in came his assistant Michael Carrick for what appears now to be very short spell. Carrick’s first move against Villareal was to drop Bruno Fernandes, who had been the standout performer over recent years until he arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese national side has failed to get him to perform at his club level when teamed with CR7 and the same has happened at Old Trafford in recent months. The almost forgotten Donny Van de Beek and Jadon Sancho got a run out and even though they came away with a 2-0 victory there was no distinctive change of plan.

With several high-profile players likely to be absent, including Ben Chilwell, N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic, Luke Shaw, Raphael Varane, Harry Maguire (suspended), Fred, Paul Pogba, Edison Cavani and Mason Greenwood, the home side’s stronger squad depth may be a significant factor. United’s defensive struggles are well known and though captain Maguire’s form has often been criticised the alternative pairing for Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof doesn’t inspire any additional confidence.

Both meetings last season ended 0-0 and 23 of their 58 Premier league encounters have ended all square. United have numerous individuals who can be match winners on their day, but Chelsea’s overall stability and form should win out.

Suggested bet : Chelsea to win and both teams to score (11/5 at bet365)

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