Chelsea will look to get back on track after the winter break and close in on Champions League qualification when they welcome Manchester United to Stamford Bridge.
Group EPL Stamford Bridge, Fulham, England
Key Stat: Including their two wins this season, Manchester United are unbeaten in their last five matches against Chelsea - their last defeat was the 2018 FA Cup final.
Expert Verdict: Manchester United went into the winter break on the back of three clean sheets and some improved form but Chelsea have revenge in mind as they look to hit back after their defeats earlier this season. Frank Lampard's side have stuttered again recently, but the Blues are favourites for this one.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Christian Pulisic are expected back in training after the winter break but both are unlikely to be up to match speed in time for this game. Chelsea are otherwise at full strength and the likes of Willian, Mateo Kovacic and Ross Barkley are pushing for starts after being on the bench last time out. Willy Caballero replaced Kepa Arrizabalaga in goal against Leicester, but the latter could be in line for a recall.
Tammy Abraham – Only one of his 15 goals so far this season has come since the start of the new year, but the winter break could have come at a good time for him to get back to his best.
Kepa Arrizabalaga – Being dropped ahead of the winter break will have hurt badly, and if he is recalled he has plenty to prove in goal in this fixture.
Mason Mount – Another young player who hit the ground running earlier in the season but slowed before the break. If he can get back on it after the time off, Chelsea can finish strongly.
Chelsea have drawn their last two league games 2-2, first with Arsenal and then Leicester, either side of a 2-1 FA Cup win against Hull. Jorginho and Cesar Azpilicueta scored against ten-man Arsenal, but Chelsea were twice pegged back, while Antonio Rudiger opened the scoring and then equalised against Leicester.
Defenders:Reece James, Andreas Christensen, Antonio Rudiger, Cesar Azpilicueta
Defensive Midfielders:N Golo Kante, Jorginho
Attacking Midfielders:Callum Hudson-Odoi, Mason Mount, Willian
Paul Pogba remains sidelined as does Marcus Rashford but Nemanja Matic is back from suspension and Scott McTominay could be close to a return too. New loan signing Odion Ighalo is still in line to be in the match-day squad against Chelsea despite having had to train alone on a specialised programme since his arrival due to coronavirus fears.
Harry Maguire – A key part of United’s return to clean sheets, as well as scoring a thumping goal against Tranmere Rovers of his own.
Anthony Martial – Leading the line in Marcus Rashford’s absence, the French striker can re-establish his reputation up front if he scores a few goals.
Bruno Fernandes – United need goals and creativity in midfield and the Portuguese playmaker arrived on the back of providing plenty of both for Benfica.
Manchester United have kept clean sheets in each of their last three matches, though they have taken just one point from their last three league games. A 6-0 win against Tranmere in the FA Cup got them back on track, though a 1-0 win at Manchester City was not enough to prevent a 3-2 aggregate defeat in the Carabao Cup semi-finals. Most recently, they drew 0-0 with Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Goalkeeper:David de Gea
Defenders:Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw
Defensive Midfielders:Andreas Pererira, Fred
Attacking Midfielders:Daniel James, Bruno Fernandes, Juan Mata
While it hardly set the tone for the season, Manchester United started this campaign with a thumping 4-0 win at home to Chelsea and then beat them in the Carabao Cup too. They have now gone five matches unbeaten against the Blues. Marcus Rashford scored twice in the league game, with Anthony Martial and Daniel James also netting, before two more Rashford goals – either side of Michy Batshuayi’s equaliser – earned a 2-1 win in the League Cup match.
Here are the results of the last five competitive matches:
Oct 30, 2019: Chelsea 1-2 Manchester United
Aug 11, 2019: Manchester United 4-0 Chelsea
Apr 28, 2019: Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea
Feb 18, 2019: Chelsea 0-2 Manchester United
Oct 20, 2018: Chelsea 2-2 Manchester United
Chelsea need to get back on track in the league if new signing Hakim Ziyech is to be playing Champions League football when he arrives in the summer.
The Ajax winger’s summer move to Stamford Bridge was confirmed this week but the pressure is on the current Blues to get back on track after two 2-2 draws.
Both were opportunities missed but the winter break could have come at a good time for this young Chelsea team, who need a refresh and to show the form that has so far earned them fourth place.
That said, that form was not on show when they opened the season at Old Trafford and suffered a 4-0 defeat to Manchester United.
The result failed to set the tone for the season and they key man in that match – Marcus Rashford – will not be part of this return fixture.
He also scored twice against Chelsea in the Carabao Cup and has been comfortably’s United’s stand-out player this season.
United have also kept three consecutive clean sheets, though it has only amounted to one league point, an FA Cup win and a narrower aggregate defeat to Manchester City than they might have expected.
Chelsea have not been so tight at the back, and that is what needs to improve after the break, and a home win against Manchester United would be a good platform from which to build some improved form.
Chelsea are 17/20 to win at home to Manchester United with Betfair.
With question marks around their recent defensive record, however, both teams to score has been set at 4/5 with Betfair.
Likewise, over 2.5 goals will return 10/11 with Bet365 and Betway – there have been four and three in the two meetings so far this season.
Tammy Abraham will hope to get back on track after the winter break and he can be backed at 6/5 with 888sport to score at any time.
Chelsea are out to avenge their defeat at Old Trafford at the start of the season and, refreshed after the winter break, they can get back on track in this fixture.