After hitting Maribor for six in Tuesdays Champions league encounter at Stamford Bridge, our league campaign continues away at Old Trafford on Sunday.
It’s back-to-back away matches in the Premier league with this fixture following on from another good showing in the 1-2 away victory over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park last weekend.
With both home and away form looking good in all competitions, the team are clearly confident, and putting into practice the methodology Mourinho has laid out this season. 4-2-3-1 the system deployed most often, but occasionally switched to 4-3-3 either during the course of a match when the manager has seen fit, or occasionally from the outset. The midfielders are all well drilled in their roles in either shape, and Mourinho has changed between the two to take better control in this area, notably at home to Arsenal, and away to Sporting Lisbon. Matic and Fabregas have both been excellent in both attacking and defensive situations. While Matic is seen as the enforcer in front of the backline, his pressing has won possession further forward as well, and his distribution is as important to our attack. Likewise, Cesc’s assists record so far shows his prowess in the final third, but he works hard defensively also, helping the midfield retain its shape.
The defence has remained unchanged for every Premier league match so far, but it will differ for the first time on Sunday as Azpilicueta is suspended after seeing red against Crystal Palace. Felipe Luis will come in at left back. Luis has played all the Champions league matches so far, and the league cup win over Bolton. This has helped his initiation into the side, and bar a couple of mistakes, has looked better with each performance. While Costa, Fabregas and Hazard have rightly been given high acclaim for our performances, Branislav Ivanovic has to be mentioned as well as he has been outstanding thus far. His reading of the play this season has been fantastic, he has rarely been caught out of position, and has been an important figure in a lot of our attacking moves as well. Of course the team as a whole have been excellent thus far, and we can only hope this great run of form continues.
Another change is likely upfront, as Loic Remy sustained an injury during the win on Tuesday, and with Costa not even on the bench for either of our last two matches, we could see Didier Drogba starting. Didier did well against Maribor, netting his first goal since that penalty in Munich, with an exact replica of that penalty in Munich! He was more involved than when he started against Schalke as we were a more prominent attacking force and could provide him better service. He also did everything asked of him when coming on late at Selhurst Park. There is of course every chance that Costa may have recovered in time for the match, and the extent of Remy’s injury is as yet unknown at the time of writing. If either are injured though, we may well see Dominic Solanke as one of the substitutes again. He was on the bench at Palace, and came off it against Maribor for a promising debut in a 20-minute cameo. Anyone who has seen him in the youth team will tell you that he is a good finisher, and dangerous in the air as well.
In the midfield, Oscar has joined Matic and Fabregas in front of them more often than anyone else of late; he has started our last six matches in all competitions. Hazard will flank, and indeed interchange positions with him, Willian or possibly Schurrle will line up on the other flank.
Manchester United played on Monday night in a 2-2 away draw at West Bromwich Albion. They haven’t played midweek as they aren’t in Europe so will be slightly fresher. After ditching a back three early doors, Van Gaal will probably send them out in a 4-2-3-1 formation, Di Maria and Falcao will be obvious dangers. However we should be confident of exposing their backline, who have been caught high on numerous occasions this season, so balls in behind on the break could be a good weapon. While they are yet to record an away win, they’re home form is a lot better, three wins and one defeat. We are ten points clear of them in the table as it stands. Lets hope it’s thirteen at six o’ clock on Sunday.
Come on the Chels.