Whenever Chelsea and Manchester United face off in the Premier League, the match is a must-see event. The same can be expected when these two giants of the English game take the field on Sunday, in what is sure to be a crucial contest in the race for the top four.
Chelsea drew United 0-0 in the sides’ first meeting of the season back on October 24. Thomas Tuchel will hope to improve on this result and continue his unbeaten start to life at Stamford Bridge. He will still be without Thiago Silva, though, as the Brazilian defender was confirmed out for the fifth consecutive match with a hamstring injury. The Red Devils are having a bit of an injury crisis themselves at the moment, with Dan James, Donny van de Beek, Scott McTominay, Edinson Cavani and Paul Pogba all struggling for fitness.
For this combined XI, the team will play in a 4-2-3-1 formation, as both Chelsea and United have deployed it at times this season. Even with all of the injuries, there are still plenty of big names taking part in this match-up:
Goalkeeper: David de Gea, Manchester United
Choosing the most in-form goalkeeper on these two teams was a rather difficult exercise, seeing as there are four serious candidates for the position. Edouard Mendy has been an absolute blessing for the Blues this season, but David de Gea is a Premier League legend. The Spanish shot-stopper has played well this season, even with Dean Henderson challenging him for the starting role. He has made 47 saves and kept eight clean sheets in 23 league appearances so far.
Right back: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Manchester United
As a massive Reece James fan, it really hurt to select Aaron Wan-Bissaka for this combined XI, but there is no denying AWB’s greatness. He has been one of the best right backs in all of Europe this season, as his incredible tackling ability and great pace combine to make him a sentinel in defense. Wan-Bissaka is second in the Premier League with 78 total tackles this season, including a league-leading 43 tackles in the defensive third. His play this season has put him in a great position to make the England squad for this summer’s European Championships, where there will be much competition for the starting right back role.
Centerback: Kurt Zouma, Chelsea
Even though Tuchel doesn’t appreciate Kurt Zouma, we at The Pride of London still do. The physical Frenchman was arguably the best centerback in the English top flight this season under Frank Lampard, and his absence from the Chelsea squad in recent weeks has been baffling to supporters. While he will probably not play on Sunday, Zouma is still the best healthy centerback on either of these two teams. He would be especially useful against United, as he has the pace to keep up with the speedy opposing forwards. With McTominay and Pogba unlikely to play, he can dominate in the air, as well.
Centerback: Antonio Rudiger, Chelsea
With Thiago Silva injured, there are not many great options for the second centerback position. Harry Maguire is the obvious choice, but he has struggled mightily this season in what has been an average United defense that has already allowed 32 goals.
That leaves Antonio Rudiger.
The German international is having a midseason renaissance under the new Chelsea manager, which is unsurprising considering the rumors that Rudiger played a large part in convincing Tuchel to come to west London in the first place. He looks comfortable in the team’s new 3-4-3 formation and, the own goal against Sheffield notwithstanding, has been confident and decisive in a way he never was before.
Left back: Luke Shaw, Manchester United
Luke Shaw having a consistent run of good form should warm the heart of every Premier League fan. The 25-year-old has been plagued with injuries for most of his senior career, and especially so since his move to United in 2014. This season, though, he has stayed healthy and been a real contributor. Shaw will have his work cut out for him on Sunday when he will likely be tasked with marking Callum Hudson-Odoi on Chelsea’s right wing. The fullback’s pace is no longer what it once was and the dynamic winger has speed to burn. Shaw has been an EPL player for quite some time and has a few tricks up his sleeve, though, so this clash will be one to watch out for.