Manchester United’s Ander Herrera throws his boot in frustration after he got injured during United’s UEFA Champions League match on Wednesday night against Sevilla. PHOTO|REUTERS
Manchester United’s rising injury woes continue as Spanish midfielder Ander Herrera pulled a hamstring in their midweek draw against Sevilla in the Champions League that has effectively ruled him out of the Premier League match on Sunday against Chelsea at Old Trafford.
This development comes at a bad time for United as the battle for the top four places in the league heats up. Already, the Red Devils are without Marouane Fellaini and the hard-tackling Marcos Rojo while Zlatan Ibrahimovic is still recovering from an injury.
United have to manoeuvre through Chelsea, Liverpool and the reverse tie against Sevilla in the coming weeks even as manager Jose Mourinho shed some light on Herrera’s situation. “I think it is a bad injury. He had a small injury that stopped him from playing the last couple of matches. It looks like he was not fully fit,” he told Telegraph.
In their last 10 meetings, the Blues have commanded this fixture with five wins as compared to United’s one. Last season, Chelsea humiliated United courtesy of a thumping 4-0 win before losing the reverse 0-2. This season, Alvaro Morata’s guided headed goal proved to be vital as Chelsea emerged 1-0 winners at home.
Mourinho has come under fire in recent matches because of his tactics and has been accused of instilling overly defensive approaches to matches in his players. This is in contrast to the free-flowing football United displayed at the start of the season when they tore teams apart at will. He is likely to stick to a 4-3-3 formation used in the last two matches against Huddersfield in the F.A Cup and Sevilla which saw the resurgence of Scott McTominay.
Pogba dip in form
Despite a dip in form, Paul Pogba still possesses the game changing qualities associated with world class midfielders and I fancy him to get the nod alongside Nemanja Matic. Fourth placed Chelsea is on the backdrop of two wins in their last five league matches. Only three points separate the side from second placed United (56 points).
David Luiz (ankle) and Timoue Bakayoko are the only absentees for this clash. Conte is likely to bring in a centre forward after using Eden Hazard in a false nine role in the Champions League against Barcelona. He has the towering Olivier Giroud and Alvaro Morata at his disposal with both offering good physical presence in the box.
Prediction: Manchester United 1 Chelsea 0 (Kick off 14.05 GMT)
David De Gea, Antonio Valencia, Luke Shaw, Eric Bailly, Chris Smalling, Paul Pogba, Scott McTominay, Nemanja Matic, Alexis Sanchez, Anthony Martial, Romelu Lukaku
Chelsea: Thibaut Courtois, Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen, Cesar Azpilicueta, Ngolo Kante, Cesc Fabregas, Victor Moses, Marcos Alonso, Pedro, Eden Hazard, Alvaro Morata