How Manchester United should line up vs Chelsea in Premier League fixture – Samuel Luckhurst
Manchester United will be looking for another win under caretaker manager Michael Carrick when they travel to face Chelsea in the Premier League this weekend.
Carrick guided United to victory away at Villarreal at the start of the week and could lead the side for the last time on Sunday with Ralf Rangnick lined up to be their new interim manager until the end of the season.
Chelsea are winless in their last seven Premier League games against United, only having a longer run without a league win against them once before (10 games between 1938 and 1950).
In terms of early team news, Luke Shaw and Fred are doubts for the match, Edinson Cavani has been absent with a tendon injury while Paul Pogba (thigh) and Raphael Varane (hamstring) are both out. Harry Maguire is suspended.
Here is how MEN writers think United should line up.
Michael Owen spoke compelling for the first time as a pundit, well, in his life, about United’s identity after the schooling by City three weeks ago when he questioned the change of formation, but United have to go with a back three today.
That does not mean they should switch to the bottom-heavy formation Solskjaer favoured. Donny van de Beek and Fred can play with the requisite intensity and are capable of supplementing a three-pronged attack of Jadon Sancho, Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka is a wing-back with clipped wings and Diogo Dalot is more suitable. Alex Telles should be accommodated even if Luke Shaw is fit as the left-back is needed next to Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly.
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The dilemma for Carrick is that while a back three is tempting this weekend they don’t have the obvious personnel to execute it with Varane injured and Maguire suspended. If fit Shaw could drop into an auxiliary centre-back role with Telles and Wan-Bisska the only real options to use at wing back.
McTominay and Fred make sense as midfield axis but with the Brazilian a doubt there might be more reason to play Matic in a deeper role. Van de Beek can’t be dropped even if it means leaving Fernandes out again.
Ronaldo has to start up front and although Cavani would be the ideal partner Rashford is fitter and more likely to start. Sancho doesn’t deserve to be dropped but he doesn’t appear to suit the system.
Had Carrick been able to call on Maguire and Varane this weekend then a back three might have been very likely but it really does lack the personnel to make it work this weekend, especially if Shaw is absent.
Instead, it should be a back four, with Bailly in for Maguire and Telles continuing on the left if Shaw is unavailable. The fact Phil Jones was on the trip to Villarreal makes me think he might be on the bench today but starting him would obviously be crazy.
Defensive discipline is going to be key though, so Van de Beek, McTominay and Fred can form a tight midfield unit once again, as we saw to such success in Castellon.
Ronaldo started on the left in that game but he can’t be trusted there against Reece James. Sancho and Rashford are the obvious wingers, they have the speed to exploit the space left by James and Marcos Alonso but can also track back as well and help defensively.