The biggest game of the Premier League weekend will soon be upon us as Manchester United host Chelsea at Old Trafford later today.
In a game that has increased hugely in reputation in the Abramovich era, the Blues are the only team in the Premier League to have the edge in a head-to-head with United since the reformation of the top flight.
And with them having a record of winning the two games between the pair so far this season, they should be once again confident they can get a result against their former manager, Jose Mourinho.
Mourinho, of course, will be desperate to get one over his old side with the aim of trying to put a dent in their title hopes and, indeed, bolstering the Red Devils’ chances of a top four finish.
The game, then, should be a tense and gripping affair come 4pm and so, ahead of it, here at Rush Football we’ve been taking a look at where it could be won and lost.
With that in mind, then, here are the three key battles that should decide this latest edition of Manchester United v Chelsea…
Zlatan Ibrahimovic v David Luiz
There can be no doubt that if United are going to win this, Ibrahimovic will have to be in top form. The powerful Swede has carried the Red Devils a lot this season and he will surely be looking to pin Cesar Azpilicueta as much as possible when the ball is in the air. Certainly, then, we should expect plenty of diagonals from United’s right towards the far post and it’ll be up to David Luiz – the central figure in Chelsea’s back three – to try and cut things out. Ibrahimovic will aim to pull away to the far stick and so Luiz will need to get across and protect his diminutive Spanish team-mate.
Paul Pogba v N’Golo Kante
This seems to be the battle everyone is talking about and so far it is very much Pogba 0-2 Kante in terms of individual performances in these games. A player like Pogba should be relishing this kind of match. He has the ability and physical presence to dominate and leave his mark but, if anything, we’re all expecting the slight Kante to once again take control. If he buzzes around Pogba to effectively render him useless in the game, Chelsea will surely take control. It’s the challenge for the ex-Juventus man, then, to break free of those Kante shackles.
Ander Herrera v Eden Hazard
Whilst Chelsea have Kante, United have Ander in terms of a tenacious midfielder. Of course, the Spaniard is not as good as Kante but he’s had a solid season and will look to reaffirm that with the small task of keeping in-form Eden Hazard out of the game. The Belgian international is taking Chelsea to the title with his goals and performances in light of Diego Costa going off the boil and will be keen to underline that with a top display this afternoon. He’ll be coming in from the left channel, operating between United’s midfield and defence and looking to cause havoc. Ander – United’s most mobile central player – will need to monitor that, then, and can’t risk losing sight of Hazard for a moment.