Seen as a potential Premier League title contender before the season kicked off, Manchester United have looked anything but since the beginning of the term. Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was (finally?) axed from Old Trafford, with a 4-1 loss to Watford being too much to bear for the Glazers and co.
In his place is Michael Carrick, a former midfielder, as caretaker until a new official boss is in town. With a 100% record thus far of one win in one game managed, he will be looking to keep this up until he hands the job over to whoever takes the reigns at United.
It will be Chelsea’s duty to make sure his clean record is stained before that happens.
Date / Time: Sunday, November 28, 16.30 GMT; 11:30am EST; 10pm IST
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Anthony Taylor (on pitch); Chris Kavanagh (VAR)
Forecast: Light cloud and a gentle breeze
On TV: Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Sports Premier League (UK); none (US); Star Sports Select 1, Star Sports 3 Asia (India); SuperSport Premier League, SuperSport MaXimo 1 (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: SKY GO Extra (UK); Peacock (US); JioTV, Hotstar VIP (India); DSTv Now (NGA)
Chelsea team news: We have gone over the good and the awful that took place in our 4-0 win over Juventus last Tuesday. Losing Ben Chilwell for at least six weeks to an ACL injury certainly slots in the latter part, alongside the injury scare we had with N’Golo Kanté.
Chilwell is definitely out of contention, and so is Mateo Kovacic who is still healing from a hamstring injury. Kanté has a very slim chance to feature, but if Tuchel is smart — and that seems to be case thus far — he will give our precious Frenchman a well-deserved rest. Meanwhile Romelu Lukaku has been back from injury for a while, although he most likely will not start; and Kai Havertz has recovered from the minor hamstring problem he had during our 3-0 win against Leicester last weekend.
Tuchel’s decision not to start our nearly £100m centre-forward might be a head-scratcher to many. But not to those who have paid close attention to the performances, stats and everything else struck by Chelsea in his absence, from the six regular time wins in eight matches to the 20 goals we have scored in this streak. It is a delicate balance we have achieved, and Lukaku will have to work to prove he can add usefulness to what we have going on.
Manchester United team news: Although we can still criticise Chelsea’s impatience with managers in the past, we also have to recognise we have learned from past experience. We would never let a Mourinho Mk.II situation take place ever again — in fact, we did not as shown by Frank Lampard’s sack last mid-season. Whereas United almost got themselves into very big trouble by letting Solskjaer take command of a ship which he clearly had little idea how to run, perhaps from the get-go.
The stop-gap to the future stop-gap, Michael Carrick, played with Romelu Lukaku for a season before hanging his boots. With three years of experience as an assistant to Mourinho and then to Solskjaer, his first game as caretaker manager went well thanks to late goals by Cristiano Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho to find a 2-0 win away at Villarreal in the Champions League — whether that was the “new boss bounce” effect or not, is still undecided.
Chelsea do not have a clean health bill, and neither do United. Luke Shaw and Fred are touch and go at the moment according to the caretaker manager, with Paul Pogba and Raphaël Varane still out due to hamstring injuries. Edinson Cavani and Mason Greenwood might make their way back to the squad, but it is unknown whether they will be fit enough to start against the Blues this weekend. Meanwhile, Harry Maguire is suspended due to the double yellow card he got in United’s Watford defeat last weekend.
At the very least, you cannot say Carrick has no idea of what he has in store when facing Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea.
“You’ve got to be hugely impressed by the way [Chelsea] go about things.
“Obviously, I’ve watched quite a bit of them. Super intense, well-organised, really good movement across our back line, their front line and very good at connecting with the midfield, with the back three building out and connecting in midfield.
“The wing-backs are really aggressive and test your backline and stretch you across the pitch. They’ve got a really good balance going at the moment, confidence is high and you can see that.”
-Michael Carrick; Source: Manchester United
Previously: A Premier League encounter at Stamford Bridge with loads of shots, but no goals.