After an exciting transfer window, the Red Devils are set to kickstart a new season with some great reinforcements to the squad. Whereas, their Stamford Bridge counterparts have not been able to enjoy much activity this summer, due to the transfer ban.
In his first manager’s press conference of the season, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has confirmed that the lads are fit to start the campaign, except Eric Bailly, out with knee injury, and Alexis Sanchez, away on international duty. The gaffer also shared his thoughts on starting record signing Harry Maguire alongside Victor Lindelof to face the Blues at Old Trafford.
Meanwhile, the travelling side will be without three of their key players from the squad that lifted the Europa Cup last season, club’s top scorer Eden Hazard and experienced defenders David Luiz and Gary Cahill. Adding to his woes, Frank Lampard could be without the likes of N’Golo Kante, Ruben Loftus Cheek, Antonio Rudiger, Willian and Callum Hudson-Odoi due to various injuries.
Man Utd: De Gea, Wan Bissaka, Maguire, Lindelof, Shaw, McTominay, Pogba, Andreas Pereira, Lingard, Martial, Rashford
Subs: Mata, Young, James, Romero, Greenwood, Matic, Tuanzebe
Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Zouma, Emerson Palmieri, Jorginho, Kovacic, Pedro, Barkley, Mount, Abraham
Subs: Alonso, Kante, Caballero, Kenedy, Giroud, Pulisic, Tomori
After a satisfactory pre-season under the belt for both the teams, Solskjaer and Lampard will both look to outwit each other in a tactical battle.
For the Red Devils, all eyes will be on record signing Harry Maguire to live up to his stats from last season. With a monstrous aerial dominance and deadly 1v1 take-on capability, Harry Maguire’s gameplay in this match will give us a slight peak into United’s new season.
McTominay has been a key first squad player for United since the second half of last season. His strength and holding capabilities, paired with Paul Pogba’s creativity and Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s pace make United’s central midfield a deadly force.
Other United players to look out for – Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood and Anthony Martial.
As for Chelsea, Ross Barkley will look to make an impact, after having been involved in a goal every 32 minutes last season. With Sarri’s tactics not holding the playmaker back anymore, Barkley will have much more freedom to create the drive for Chelsea on the attack.
Another player to look out for – Christian Pulisic. A direct winger, deadly on the counter, the American international has been known for his outstanding wing play, close control and quick feet. Lampard could look to play him as a false 9.
Other Chelsea players to look out for – Tammy Abraham, Andreas Christensen and Mason Mount.
Both managers have had a keen inclination towards a solid 4-2-3-1 shape, and will look to win the game over key battles. United have demonstrated a threatening wing play and wide attacking shape through the pre-season against the big teams. Whereas, Chelsea, wary of the deadlier looking United squad, will possibly play a defensive shape to find counter-attacking opportunities.
The biggest fixture of the opening weekend is set to kick off late on Sunday when Manchester United host Chelsea at Old Trafford for the first time in an opening game since 1958. Chelsea have not won at Old Trafford since May 2013, while the Red Devils failed to win any of their last five games last season.
With plenty of commonalities in their stories over the last two decades, this is a game that promises to keep us all at the edge of our seats. Both teams will be driven by inspiring club legends to live up to their club legacies and register their first wins to keep up with the pace set by Premier League Champions Manchester City and European Champions Liverpool on the opening day.