Manchester United have won four of their last seven matches against Chelsea. The overall score in the last seven matches is 13-6 in favour of United. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knows his reign as United boss will be further dented with another defeat while Frank Lampard is keen to hold on to that vaunted Champions League place. A draw does no good to either side, so expect these five duels to be keenly contested with no quarters given or taken.
Mason Mount v Fred
Mount is the terrier in the opponent’s half while Fred is the conduit through which United knit the defense to their attack, which means these two will directly confront each other. Mount has been unfairly criticised for missing chances towards the end of the first half of the league, but his aggression has won some games for Chelsea. Fred, on the other hand, has steadily improved and his influence on this United team has grown. If Mount successfully harasses Fred into mistakes, Chelsea will create goal-scoring chances, but if the Brazilian can escape that press, he can launch United on lightning-fast counter-attacks.
Willian v Luke Shaw
Will Solskjaer go with youth or with experience? Gut feeling says Shaw will play on the left side of defence instead of Brandon Williams, which means he will have to be constantly alert for the nippy Willian, who on his day can be a match-winner. Shaw has spoken about United pulling together for better results and getting himself back on the national team radar. In Willian, he has a duel where he can either show he is ready or not.
Jorginho v Bruno Fernandes
The metronome of the Blues’ passing game is Jorginho and he not only leads the passing stats, he is also a very important leader for Lampard’s young fledglings. Fernandes showed flashes of his game in the 0-0 with Wolves and should take on more responsibilities after getting to know his teammates better over the Winter break. Both players want to control the rhythm of their teams – Jorginho, near his defenders and Fernandes nearer his strikers. Who will give an inch in this one will be key to deciding which team wins.
Tammy Abraham v Harry Maguire
Abraham is carrying an injury, which makes him a doubt but if he makes an appearance, he must be ready for the burly challenge that his England mate, Maguire, will present. With 13 league goals, the Chelsea youngster has shown promise, but the last league goal he scored was on January 11 – 38 days without one. Maguire, United’s new captain, has a major role to play as United seek a return to the top shelf and United will need his leadership at the Bridge on Monday.
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Antonio Rudiger v Anthony Martial
The battle of the two Anthonys – so different in their approach to the game. While Rudiger relishes a physical challenge and will lay his body on the line, Martial is introverted, wary of physical clashes but talented and strong enough to win any duel. Rudiger has become the permanent fixture of the Chelsea back-line since his return from injury while Martial has not led United’s forward line very well since Marcus Rashford’s injury-enforced absence. Will it be Martial’s day again at the Bridge after he scored twice in October 2018’s 2-2 draw?