After a 2-0 victory over Villarreal in midweek, Manchester United are busy preparing for a fixture against Chelsea.
The match with the Blues will be a tough one. Chelsea sit top of the Premier League and have conceded only four top flight goals this season.
United are struggling and while we enter the weekend in eighth place, by time Sunday’s late game at Stamford Bridge kicks off, we could be outside the top 10.
Chelsea would open up a gap over United from 12 points to 15 points with a win.
So it doesn’t have to be pretty, but United need a victory this weekend, however it comes.
Michael Carrick is still expected to be in charge for this game, ESPN report, despite claims of an agreement with Ralf Rangnick to become interim manager.
Leading into the fixture there are selection issues for Carrick to consider. Let’s break them down…
Two or three at the back?
United’s last Premier League away win came at Chelsea, in a 3-5-2 formation.
Defensively the team’s options are limited, with Harry Maguire suspended and Raphael Varane injured.
The most likely option is Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly in central defence.
United could look to bolster this with a back three, possibly moving Scott McTominay into the defence where he has played for Scotland, selecting Luke Shaw if he is fit, or the bold option: to recall Phil Jones.
Stick with Telles?
Let’s assume Carrick sticks with a 4-2-3-1. There will be a decision to be made at left-back.
Shaw has sustained concussions in his last two Premier League appearances and did not even travel to Villarreal.
One of the mistakes Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made was to rush Shaw back from various injuries.
Alex Telles was solid in midweek and deserves to keep his place. This match is a great opportunity for him to prove himself.
Van de Beek or Fernandes, or both?
United’s game plan against Villarreal was to keep the game tight and then push for the win midway through the second half.
This was reflected in the selection of Donny van de Beek in midfield with Fred and Scott McTominay.
So do United stick with this plan, or bring in Bruno Fernandes from the start, probably at Van de Beek’s expense?
Fernandes was bright when he came on against Villarreal, and while United could use him as an impact substitute again, it will be tempting to play him from the start.
A scenario where McTominay ends up as part of a back three, could allow United to play a midfield of Fred, Van de Beek, and Fernandes – or Carrick could just select the trio straight up.
Rashford or Martial?
Anthony Martial got the start in midweek and he worked hard without having any real effect in the final third.
If Carrick wants to repeat the performance, and use Rashford as an impact substitute again, then Martial could get the start.
Martial has a good record against Chelsea, scoring four goals against the Blues and providing two assists.
It is easier for Martial to succeed with a run of games, and this is an additional reason to keeping him in the XI.
Rashford was brighter against Villarreal though, and the England forward is our tip to start as part of a front three with Cristiano Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho.
Of course if United reverted to 3-5-2, Sancho would miss out, which is a big reason to want to stick with a 4-2-3-1.
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