The old saying reads ‘start as you mean to go on’ and on the Premier League’s first weekend we already have a big clash between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford. Both Ole Gunnar Solskajer and Frank Lampard.
This is a big season for both managers; Solskjaer must prove his worth at this level after a dream start at Old Trafford turned into a nightmarish end to the campaign, whilst Lampard’s arrival at Stamford Bridge was greeted with delight by fans, but he takes another big managerial step up from the Championship.
United’s defensive record last season was one of their worst in recent history and the club’s signature signing Harry Maguire has been brought in as a centreback who can not only plug many of the gaps in United’s backline but also fit into the high energy game that Solskjaer wants to play, and for a club of United’s stature, £15m is a good price to pay for a promising youngster such as Daniel James.
However, those are the only two arrivals, which means that Solskjaer must find a solution to problems United suffered towards the end of last season when they took just eight points from their last nine matches. It’s easy to forget that the Solskjaer reign started so well when he won ten of his first twelve league games.
A counter attacking style of football and a much more free flowing approach saw Paul Pogba show his best, in turn bringing out the best in Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, and a big season will be needed from those three if United are to thrive in the oncoming campaign. The reds will also need to learn how to control games, as they suffered when teams sat back against them towards the end of last season.
Chelsea took third last season by a point, were runners up in the League Cup, and won the Europa League in what was a very successful season for Maurizio Sarri despite constant battles between him, the fans, and the board.
Man Utd v Chelsea
16:30 Sky Sports Premier League / Sky Sports Main Event / Sky Sports Ultra HD
HEAD TO HEAD RECORD
(Maximum 10 matches, past 10 years)
APR 2019 PREMIER LEAGUE Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea
FEB 2019 FA CUP Chelsea 0-2 Manchester United
OCT 2018 PREMIER LEAGUE Chelsea 2-2 Manchester United
MAY 2018 FA CUP Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United
FEB 2018 PREMIER LEAGUE Manchester United 2-1 Chelsea
NOV 2017 PREMIER LEAGUE Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United
APR 2017 PREMIER LEAGUE Manchester United 2-0 Chelsea
MAR 2017 FA CUP Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United
OCT 2016 PREMIER LEAGUE Chelsea 4-0 Manchester United
FEB 2016 PREMIER LEAGUE Chelsea 1-1 Manchester United
DEC 2015 PREMIER LEAGUE Manchester United 0-0 Chelsea
Frank Lampard’s arrival was greeted with delight by many – understandable given his brilliant career for the Blues – and the ex-midfielder does have a good season under his belt as he took Derby to one game of promotion.
However, this is another step up for him and it’s impossible to state how much he will miss Eden Hazard’s 16 Premier League goals and 15 assists despite having a strong squad. Christian Pulisic is an extremely exciting prospect in his own right but he has huge shoes to fill and Lampard must find the best of Ross Barkley if Hazard’s contributions are to be replaced. Another big concern will be getting Michy Batshuayi, Tammy Abraham and Oliver Giroud to fire upfront on a regular basis.
It remains to be seen how these two teams perform this season but we could have an attacking start. Both clubs have plenty going forward whilst there are also defensive concerns, even with United having brought Maguire into the backline. Both teams scored in both meetings last season and the 3/4 on it happening again looks reasonable.
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