Manchester United v Chelsea – talking points
Antonio Conte takes Chelsea to Old Trafford on Sunday.
Manchester United welcome Chelsea to Old Trafford in the Premier League on Sunday.
Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at five talking points ahead of the match.
Mourinho v Conte
As if Chelsea coming up against their most successful manager was not enough of an interesting narrative, Sunday also sees Jose Mourinho renew hostilities with Antonio Conte. This is the first match since a public war of words that saw the managers sling mud at one another in January. It ended with Conte calling Mourinho “a little man” and the Portuguese returning fire by saying he treats the Italian with “contempt”. Neither fuelled that fire ahead of the game, but it is unlikely to take much for them to clash on Sunday.
Scott McTominay’s selection ahead of club-record signing Paul Pogba dominated the agenda ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League tie at Sevilla. Ander Herrera’s injury meant the France international would come on after just 17 minutes, with the midfielder going on to put in a solid if unspectacular display. Pogba was praised for his professional response to being dropped by Mourinho, who may well recall the star midfielder when Chelsea come to town. United certainly need a spark and creativity that has been sorely lacking in recent matches.
The aggravation of Herrera’s muscle injury means the midfielder will miss the next few weeks – and the chance to renew his battle with Eden Hazard. The Spaniard superbly marshalled Chelsea’s key man at Old Trafford last season, starving him of time and service as United emerged as 2-0 victors. Mourinho must decide how best to deal with Chelsea’s attacking threat this time around, with trusted options Nemanja Matic and McTominay able to do a marking job on Hazard. A switch to a three-man central defence could also be tempting.
Will costly error cost Christensen?
Andreas Christensen has become one of the first names on Conte’s team-sheet this season following a string of impressive performances. However, the Denmark defender is in the spotlight after his sloppy pass saw Chelsea concede a precious away goal in the midweek Champions League draw with Barcelona. Conte has offered his support by tipping Christensen to become a future Chelsea captain but that will not stop all eyes being on the young centre-back to see how he responds at Old Trafford.
False nine or striker?
Hazard was deployed as Chelsea’s main attacking threat against Barca as Conte once again opted to play without a recognised striker. While the system – which had Hazard supported by Pedro and the impressive Willian – worked on Tuesday, it failed spectacularly in the recent three-goal defeats to Bournemouth and Watford. Spain forward Alvaro Morata – who headed the winner against United at Stamford Bridge in November – and recent recruit Olivier Giroud are both fit to feature this weekend after being restricted to peripheral roles recently, and Conte has an interesting tactical decision on his hands