Van Gaal faces his old apprentice Jose Mourinho looking to show his old student he’s still the master
After the uninspiring draw at West Brom Manchester United face the ultimate test in the form of Jose Mourinho’s league leaders Chelsea. Home advantage will provide a huge boost to van Gaal’s side with the Old Trafford crowd roaring the team forward. Chelsea go into this game unbeaten with only Manchester City managing to take anything off Chelsea this season and that was just a point at the Ethiad. United go into this game on a three game unbeaten run following the 2-2 draw with West Brom having won three times this season in the league.
The Manchester United defence remains the biggest concern ahead of this game. United conceded yet more gaols at West Brom despite the return of Phil Jones and having Chris Smalling on the bench. Facing Chelsea requires defensive steal and having height and power all over the pitch especially in midfield where Chelsea have the power and defensive intelligence of Nemenja Matic who doesn’t get enough praise for what he does every game because he completely dominates the midfield especially in the big games. Louis van Gaal experimented with a 4-2-3-1 formation against West Brom with the Chelsea game in mind which is the best thing to do especially because the 4-4-2 diamond doesn’t give enough bodies in midfield. Juan Mata has been a heavily talked about man in the build up to this game facing his former club however for me the only way he will face Chelsea is coming on from the bench. Against West Brom Mata lost possession far too much and failed to carry out any defensive duties which is what will be absolutely crucial with the likes of Willian, Oscar and Hazard in the Chelsea team. Marouane Fellani surprised a lot of people against West Brom with the impact he made. Fellani possesses all the attributes needed to start this game, his height and sheer physical presence will give Terry and Cahill so much more problems than what Mata can offer. If United need to use long balls as an alternative to trouble Chelsea Fellani will provide support for his team mates with his ability to hold the ball up. Giving the towering midfielder a start will provide van Gaal’s United with a number of different options plus the added benefit of his defensive qualities on set pieces as well and attacking set pieces.
There has been a lot of talk in the build up to this game about which striker should start or perhaps they both will. However based on the managers decision to go with just one striker against West Brom its likely to be either Falcao or Van persie. The last time Falcao faced Chelsea he famously scored all of Atletico Madrid’s goals in the UEFA Super Cup final and based on current form Falcao has to start on Sunday. Against West Brom Robin van Persie was abysmal and looked noting like the striker Sir Alex Ferguson bought two years ago he was frustrating to say the least and everything he did looked pedestrian. When Falcao came on he offered pace and power and United looked like a totally different team he sacrificed himself for the team and his energy and unselfishness led to Daley Blind’s equaliser. This is a huge game for everyone connected with United with the key to victory in the defence if United can stay strong in defence then there’s more than enough going forward to beat Chelsea and end their unbeaten run.
Predicted team line up (4-2-3-1)
Rafael Jones Rojo Shaw
Januzaj Fellani Di Maria
Score Prediction: Man Utd 2-1 Chelsea