Other than his sacking, the undoubted low-point of Thomas Tuchel’s time at PSG was the 3-1 home defeat to Manchester United in the Round of 16 of the 2018-19 Champions League, when Ole wheeled his Red Devils into Paris to overturn an 0-2 home deficit with a stoppage-time winning penalty by Marcus Rashford.
Tuchel was admittedly haunted by that experience for some time, and journalists were more than happy to have him relive it in the build-up to this match. But there’s little use in dwelling on past failures, other than to learn from them, and Tuchel’s certainly the type to be able to look at things analytically and make improvements as necessary — though he would again end up losing at home and winning away when faced with United in this season’s group stage.
So, hopefully that pattern reverses this weekend, alongside Chelsea’s own recent foibles against United as well — other than winning two out of our last three FA Cup meetings (including the 2018 Final). United are unbeaten in six straight against us in the league, which is bound to be up there for longest ever such streak.
Not since Álvaro Morata nodded in a classic César Azpilicueta deep cross in November 2017 have we walked off the pitch at Stamford Bridge with all three points. But if we can do so tomorrow, we would move back into fourth place thanks to Manchester City taking another step towards their title by beating currently fourth-place West Ham.
Date / Time: Sunday, February 28, 2021, 16.30 GMT; 11:30am EST; 10pm IST
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Stuart Attwell (on pitch); Chris Kavanagh (VAR)
Forecast: Breezy but not too cold
On TV: Sky Sports Main Event (UK); NBCSN, Telemundo (USA); Star Sports Select HD1 (India); SuperSport Premier League, Canal+ Sport 3 (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: Sky Go (UK); NBC Sports Live, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo (USA); Hotstart (India); DStv Now (NGA)
Chelsea team news: Chelsea made it eight our of eight unbeaten under Tuchel with an important and unexpected 1-0 win over Atlético Madrid in the Champions League on Tuesday. However, that result doesn’t actually improve our Premier League standing, which took a big hit with the disappointing 1-1 draw at Southampton last weekend. Having just returned to the top-four, we had immediately dropped back out.
We can undo some of that damage here, and not only get back into fourth place, but close the gap to United (and perhaps even Leicester City, depending on how they do against Arsenal) to just three points. It’s getting crowded again below runaway leaders Manchester City, but we can create a gap to the teams below us by winning our next three games, all which are against top-six rivals: United (h), Liverpool (a), Everton (h) in the next eight days.
The squad’s confidence should be in a good place, and while we’re still missing Thiago Silva due to injury, if the solid defending can continue as well, we should have the proper foundations necessary to pull off those results. Silva is the only expected absence this weekend.
Manchester United team news: The wheels on Ole’s bus continue to go round and round, and while it hasn’t always been impressive, they are currently on an eight-match unbeaten run in all competitions and have only lost twice in the last three months, since suffering a shock elimination from the Champions League by finishing only third in their group and dropping into the Europa. That defeat to RB Leipzig on December 8 was also the last time they’ve lost a game away from home.
That said, their recent league form has left a bit to be desired, with only two wins from their last six, including draws against Arsenal, Everton, and West Brom, and handing Sheffield United only their second league win all season (mind you, in late January).
United also have a fair few injury issues and concerns, especially in midfield, and will be without both Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay. The lesser spotted Donny van de Beek might actually play, while up front, Anthony Martial might have to deputize for Edinson Cavani — though Martial does love to score against Chelsea (4 in his last 3 Premier League games against us). The eternally adorable Juan Mata will miss out, as will the eternally hilarious Phil Jones.
Of course, United still have plenty of weapons, especially in the trio of Rashford, Mason Greenwood, and leading goalscorer Bruno Fernandes, who does score non-penalty goals on occasion, too.
View from the enemy: The Busby Babe
Previously: When we thought Morata was still going to be the truth.