The post-Ole Gunnar Solskjaer era starts on Sunday with Chelsea v Manchester United and the Red Devils’ caretaker manager, Michael Carrick, having a tough task to come up with a plan to take on the league leaders.
United’s intention to appoint a successor to Solskjaer on a short-term deal gives Carrick a shot at earning the chance to take charge at Old Trafford until the end of the season. A trip to Stamford Bridge is a baptism of fire for the former England midfielder, who will need to come up with more of a tactical plan than United showed during their time under Solskjaer.
Individual players will have to step up, though, so here are five players who will help to decide the outcome of Chelsea v Manchester United in the Premier League on Sunday.
Chelsea v Manchester United: 5 key players
With the United captain Harry Maguire out of the game due to his suspension, Bailly will presumably have to step in alongside Victor Lindelof in the Red Devils back line.
The Ivory Coast international has only played 46 minutes in the Premier League this term, however, so deputising for Maguire will be a huge challenge for the 27-year-old. Injury issues have blighted Bailly’s time at Old Trafford but a new manager means a fresh start for a player who signed a three-year contract in April.
A strong performance v Chelsea could see Bailly move up the pecking order for Manchester United.
Arguably the outstanding goalkeeper in the Premier League this term, Mendy has collected seven clean sheets, which is level for the most in the division with Manchester City’s Ederson.
Mendy is well protected by the Blues back line but the Senegal star has produced big saves in crucial moments, with his brilliant display to repel Brentford among the best of the season.
Michael Carrick’s hopes of getting a result in Chelsea v Manchester United will rest heavily on the shoulders of Fernandes. The Portugal playmaker has regularly shown his frustration this season but is one of the few United players to have met expectations, providing four goals and three assists in the league.
Fernandes has publicly said United players share the blame with the sacked Solskjaer for their poor form this season and, in the absence of Maguire and the influential midfielder Paul Pogba, he will have to step up as one of the team’s key leaders.
The link between Fernandes and his compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo remains United’s best chance of turning around their shocking start to the season.
Chelsea’s wing-back is their top goalscorer in the league this season, with James finding the net four times in just nine Premier League matches to press strong claims for England selection. James has also proven to be a huge creative outlet for Thomas Tuchel’s side, with four assists having also been provided by the 21-year-old despite starting only seven times in the league.
A peach of a cross for Kai Havertz to head in against Burnley before the international break was the pick of those, with a brilliant range of passing increasingly being demonstrated by James.
Carrick will surely put lots of faith in Greenwood, who can represent the next era for United. The 20-year-old has contributed four Premier League goals this term, the same number as Fernandes and Ronaldo, to top the scoring charts for the Red Devils.
Greenwood has often operated from the right flank and with Ronaldo a mandatory pick since his summer return, this is likely to be the position he plays during Carrick’s time in charge too. That means he will have to help out struggling defender Aaron Wan-Bissaka in tracking the runs of Chilwell, as well as trying to provide the goal threat United need at the other end of the pitch.
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