Monday February 18, Manchester United travels to West London to face FA Cup holders Chelsea. Manchester United come into this match after losing 2-0 to Paris Saint-Germain, however before that match, they were unbeaten for 11 straight matches. Paul Pogba has shown brilliant form since the arrival of interim manager Ole Gunnar Soleskjaer. Chelsea beat Malmo in the Europa League Thursday night 2-1. The Blues have been very subpar in recent weeks and hope to gain some confidence from this FA Cup tie.
Maurizio Sarri is likely to start a relatively strong starting XI if he wants any hope of winning silverware this season. Kepa Arrizabalaga has started almost every game so far this season and will likely start tomorrow night in goal. On the right side of defense Cesar Azpilicueta will start and Marcos Alonso will replace Emerson after he played a full 90 minutes on Thursday. David Luiz and Antonio Rudiger will most likely start as well, but it wouldn’t be too surprising if Andreas Christensen got the start ahead of either of the duo. Chelsea’s heartbeat Jorginho will play deepest in a three man midfield, with N’Golo Kante on the right and Mateo Kovacic on the left. Belgian magician Eden Hazard will roam freely off of the left wing, with Willian staying wide on the right. Higuain will likely start up top and will be hoping for some great build-up play and hopefully a goal to top off his performance.
A change of manager has inspired some players and changed the starting lineup quite a bit. Naturally, Spaniard David De Gea will start in net and do his best to keep a clean sheet. 19-year old Diogo Dalot will likely start on the right and Englishman Luke Shaw will start on the left. Victor Lindelof will definitely get the start due to his recent form, and Soleskjaer will have trouble choosing between Phil Jones and Eric Bailly. It would be reasonable to believe that the midfield three will stay unchanged from recent weeks with Nemanja Matic helping out the defence. Ander Herrara will work as a box-to-box midfielder with Pogba staying high up the pitch. The front three for United is very unpredictable at the moment with many good options. Anthony Martial will likely start on the left, and Jesse Lingard on the right. The center forward is a toss-up between Marcus Rashford and Romelu Lukaku, but I feel Rashford will get the start.
Chelsea’s defense has conceded 14 goals in 11 matches since the new year so Manchester United will feel confident they can poach a goal or two away from home. Striker Marcus Rashford will have to pace to break through Chelsea’s back line if they continue to play an offsides trap. Chelsea will look to control the game at Stamford Bridge, and keep as much as the ball as possible to minimize the chances the Devils get. There is no question about it, Eden Hazard will need to be at his best if Chelsea want to beat keeper David De Gea. Every attack goes through the Belgian and without him Chelsea would be in shambles. The pace and flair that United plays with will truly put Chelsea in tough situations due to their vulnerabilities on the counter attack.
Score Prediction: Chelsea FC 1 – 2 Manchester United