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Preview: Chelsea vs. Manchester United - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Sunday's Premier League clash between Chelsea and Manchester United, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

One of the standout fixtures in the Premier League calendar will take place at Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon as Chelsea welcome Manchester United.

Chelsea are currently fifth in the table, two points behind fourth-placed West Ham United on the same number of matches, while Man United are second, 10 points behind the leaders Manchester City.


Match preview

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel pictured in February 2021© Reuters

Chelsea's form under Thomas Tuchel has been excellent, with the Blues winning six and drawing two of their eight matches since the former Paris Saint-Germain manager replaced Frank Lampard at the helm.

A top-four challenge appeared difficult in the latter stages of Lampard's tenure, but the capital outfit have picked up 14 points from the last 18 available to rise into fifth position in the table, just two points behind fourth-placed West Ham and actually only six points off second-placed Man United.

Chelsea were held to a 1-1 draw by Southampton in the league last weekend, with Mason Mount's penalty cancelling out a first-half effort from on-loan Liverpool attacker Takumi Minamino.

The Blues will enter this weekend's contest off the back of a brilliant result and performance, though, having beaten Atletico Madrid 1-0 in the first leg of their last-16 Champions League contest on Tuesday night, which has left them in a strong position to reach the quarter-finals of the competition.

Olivier Giroud scores for Chelsea against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League on February 23, 2021© Reuters

Tuchel's side have four league matches before the second leg with Atletico, facing Man United, Liverpool, Everton and Leeds United, a run which might determine whether they are capable of claiming a top-four finish.

Defensively, there has been a huge improvement under the new manager, but the Blues are yet to seriously fire in the final third of the field, with Timo Werner finding it difficult to show his best form for the club.

Chelsea have not actually beaten Man United in the Premier League since November 2017, but the points were shared in a goalless draw at Old Trafford earlier this season, and it would not be a surprise to see another close contest on Sunday, with both teams expected to enter the clash in a confident mood.

The Blues are actually bidding to make it four clean sheets in a row at home in the league for the first time in over three years, while they are unbeaten in the top flight at Stamford Bridge since the start of January, when Manchester City recorded an impressive 3-1 victory.

Bruno Fernandes scores a penalty for Manchester United against Newcastle United in the Premier League on February 21, 2021© Reuters

Man United, meanwhile, will enter the contest off the back of a goalless draw with Real Sociedad in the Europa League on Thursday night, which saw them advance to the round of 16 courtesy of a 4-0 aggregate success.

The Red Devils have been handed a glamour tie with AC Milan in the next round but cannot afford to switch their focus from the league as they are very much in a battle for a top-four position, despite the fact that there is currently a six-point gap between them and Chelsea down in fifth.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side have not been at their best domestically in recent weeks, winning just two of their last six in the Premier League, including draws in three of their last five, which has seen them drop 10 points behind league leaders Man City, who appear to be breezing their way to the title.

Man United drew back-to-back league games with Everton and West Bromwich Albion at the start of February before recording a 3-1 victory over Newcastle last weekend; the 20-time English champions were far from their best against the Magpies but scored twice in the second half through Daniel James and Bruno Fernandes after Allan Saint-Maximin had cancelled out an effort from Marcus Rashford.

Daniel James celebrates scoring for Manchester United against Newcastle United in the Premier League on February 21, 2021© Reuters

Solskjaer's side are entering a vital period of games as they face Chelsea, Crystal Palace and Man City in their next three league games before hosting Milan for the first leg of their last-16 Europa League contest.

Man United are also still in the FA Cup, facing Leicester City in the quarter-finals of the competition, and it could be a very successful end to the season for the club ahead of what is expected to be an interesting transfer window, with the club thought to be keen to sign both a new centre-back and a centre-forward.

The Red Devils have been excellent on their travels in the league this season, winning eight and drawing four of their 12 matches to collect 28 points and will be taking on a Chelsea side that have dropped points in exactly half of their 12 top-flight fixtures at Stamford Bridge.

Man United are also the second-highest goalscorers in the league this season with 50 goals, but they have conceded 32 times, which is far from an impressive record considering their position in the table.

Chelsea Premier League form: DWWWWD
Chelsea form (all competitions): WWWWDW

Manchester United Premier League form: LDWDDW
Manchester United form (all competitions): DWDWWD


Team News

Manchester United striker Edinson Cavani pictured on February 2, 2021© Reuters

Chelsea will again be without the services of experienced centre-back Thiago Silva for this weekend's contest, with the Brazilian remaining on the sidelines due to a muscular problem.

The Blues are otherwise in excellent shape in terms of injuries, and there are not expected to be too many surprises in the home side's XI on Sunday afternoon.

Olivier Giroud's excellent goal against Atletico should see the France international keep his spot at the tip of the attack with Mount and Werner operating in the two positions just behind.

N'Golo Kante, Reece James and Ben Chilwell could again be on the bench, meanwhile, with Mateo Kovacic, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Marcos Alonso likely to retain their spots.

As for Man United, Phil Jones, Juan Mata and Paul Pogba are all absent, but Solskjaer said on Thursday night that he hoped that Edinson Cavani, Donny van de Beek and Scott McTominay would all be available following recent issues.

Van de Beek looks certain to make the squad, but McTominay has since been officially ruled out, while Cavani is facing a battle to be fit, having not yet trained following a muscular issue.

There will be changes from the side that started against Real Sociedad, with David de Gea, Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire and Marcus Rashford set to return to the starting XI.

Mason Greenwood could feature on the right as James is a doubt with a muscular problem, while Cavani should start if he can prove his fitness ahead of kickoff.

Bruno Fernandes captained Man United on Thursday before being substituted at the interval, and the Portugal international is a certainty to feature in the XI on Sunday.

Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Mendy; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger; Hudson-Odoi, Jorginho, Kovacic, Alonso; Mount, Giroud, Werner

Manchester United possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; Fred, Matic; Rashford, Fernandes, Greenwood; Cavani


Head To Head

Man United lead the head-to-head record over Chelsea 81 wins to 55, while there have also been 52 draws between the two sides in all competitions, dating back to 1905.

As mentioned, the pair played out a goalless draw at Old Trafford earlier this season, while Chelsea recorded a 3-1 victory in the semi-finals of the FA Cup last season.

Man United have won three of the last five meetings between the two sides in all competitions, though, including a 2-0 success when they travelled to Stamford Bridge last season.

The Red Devils, meanwhile, have not actually lost to the Blues in England's top flight since November 2017, when Alvaro Morata's second-half effort proved to be enough for the capital side to triumph.


SM words green background

We say: Chelsea 1-1 Manchester United

This is a very, very difficult match to predict for obvious reasons. Both sides will be desperate to collect all three points as they battle to finish in the top four, but we are finding it difficult to separate them. Both managers would likely accept a point if offered the chance ahead of kickoff, and we can see the pair playing out a 1-1 draw on Sunday afternoon.



Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a home win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Home Win:data


Video prediction

Watch the Sports Mole Football Shorts prediction for this game below:


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Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reacts in the Europa League on February 18, 2021
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City33245469244577
2Manchester UnitedMan Utd32199464352966
3Leicester CityLeicester32185958372159
4Chelsea321510750311955
5West Ham UnitedWest Ham32167953421155
6Tottenham HotspurSpurs331581056381853
7Liverpool32158954381653
8Everton31147104340349
9Arsenal32137124436846
10Leeds UnitedLeeds32144145050046
11Aston Villa31135134435944
12Wolverhampton WanderersWolves32118133241-941
13Crystal Palace31108133352-1938
14Southampton32106164058-1836
15Newcastle UnitedNewcastle3298153553-1835
16Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton32713123338-534
17Burnley3289152645-1933
18Fulham33512162543-1827
19West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom3259182862-3424
RSheffield UnitedSheff Utd3242261756-3914

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