Matchday 12 of the Premier League brings an exciting battle between Graham Potter’s Chelsea and Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United just three days after their previous games.
Still relatively new to the job, Potter’s side goes into the fixture after a disappointing 0-0 draw against Brentford. The Blues currently stands 4th in the league table and since the arrival of the former Brighton manager, they remain undefeated both in the league and in all competitions – also winning five of their last six games.
Man United will arrive at Stamford Bridge fresh after arguably their best performance of the season from a 2-0 victory against Tottenham. The Red Devils are currently 5th and just one point behind Chelsea as Ten Hag’s side appears to have recovered well from a 6-3 battering by Manchester City, winning four of their last five games.
When & Where?
Date: 22nd October 2022.
Venue: Stamford Bridge.
Time: 17:30 BST.
Referee: Stuart Attwell.
Assistant referees: Darren Cann, Harry Lennard.
Fourth official: Michael Salisbury.
VAR: Michael Oliver.
Assistant VAR: Richard West.
Chelsea fans can expect a range of changes after their previous outing with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Raheem Sterling expected to come back into the starting lineup after being rested in midweek. Injury-wise, Reece James, N’Golo Kanté and Wesley Fofana have all been confirmed to miss out on the tie as they currently suffer from long-term injuries. Conor Gallagher departed from the game vs Brentford after just fifteen minutes, although Potter has revealed that his substitution was due to illness-related issues and not fears of a physical injury. Nevertheless, midfield maestro Mateo Kovacic may well step into the side after a brilliant cameo to replace the former Crystal Palace man.
Manchester United’s last game became somewhat overshadowed by the drama surrounding Cristiano Ronaldo as Ten Hag revealed that the former Ballon d’Or winner refused to be subbed on vs Tottenham and the player has since been dropped from the squad and is confirmed to miss out on the clash. Defenders, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Brandon Williams and Axel Tuanzebe, continue to be sidelined with an injury and remain out for the time being. Club captain Harry Maguire recently returned to training along with teammate Donny van de Beek although both players remain doubtful for the fixture. Antony Martial continues to recover from an injury and may have a chance at a few minutes vs Chelsea.
Graham Potter has only recently come into Chelsea after a big step up from Brighton. Whilst he has not had enough time to fully establish his philosophy, it is clear that the players already look to have adapted well to his methods and style of play. Potter has already put forward a far more flexible system to his players – often rotating between a back three and four, including tactical variety between a 4-2-3-1 and 4-2-2-2 formation.
One of the unique changes to the Chelsea team is the displacement of goalkeeper, Edouard Mendy, and the revival of £72M man, Kepa Arrizabalaga in goal. The change has been an example of Potter’s strict belief in adjusting players to his system, rather than his system adjusting to his players. Mendy has proven to be a reliable shot-stopper for Chelsea although his mistakes on the ball and lack of confidence when his side pushes forwards with a higher line largely suit the previously forgotten Spaniard, Kepa. The reinvigorated goalkeeper has since looked fantastic for the side and there remains no reason to say why Kepa should not remain Chelsea’s number one for the near future.
In games, Potter places great emphasis on chance creation and attacking discipline. The element of pressing is utilised in certain scenarios to exploit spaces in the opponent’s midfield where players may not be in the correct position. Whilst this happens, Chelsea’s transition into attack remains fluid and dependable with varied player movement. For example, Sterling out wide may pressure a midfield three and Mount would then cover the unoccupied space on the left, before instantly running back into midfield to support the attack, should Sterling have won back the ball.
There seems to be greater decision-making in the Chelsea side, even in ‘simple’ passes between the midfield and wingbacks – we would often see the flanks blocked off and it would to Chelsea losing the ball in certain areas of the pitch. The weakness of the Chelsea side, however, may be seen in the defensive responsibility of Potter’s players, particularly the wingbacks. The wide players often find themselves in a ‘strange’ situation in that they don’t know whether to mark the space behind them, to the side of them in midfield or press in front of them – combine this with the need to run forward and create chances through crosses and overlapping runs, it may prove to be a weak point in an otherwise solid Chelsea team.
Man United’s previous game highlighted the type of football that Ten Hag wants to instil in his team: dominant, attacking and most importantly, winning. The side appears to be undergoing a transitional period from a counter-attacking side into a more possession-minded style of play – Manchester United have had a higher percentage of possession in every game since their 6-3 defeat against their rivals in blue. Ten Hag’s 3-2-5 or 3-1-6 formation in possession of the ball completely overloaded Antonio Conte’s side and the Italian’s style of low-block football is what ultimately cost him. United was not tested defensively too much although the counterattack was quickly shut down through the brilliant reading of the game by Casemiro and the counter-pressing ability of Fred.
The fullbacks in Man United’s system are crucial in the transition between defence and attack as the pair often invert in games and almost sometimes act as midfielders to the game. The press by Tottenham on the front foot was easily evaded by relentless switches between fullbacks and improved distribution by goalkeeper, David De Gea. United seem to be improving under Ten Hag, similar to Chelsea under Potter, although the team are far from perfect – the 6-3 defeat to Man City may have provided a reality check that United still have many improvements that need to be made. Defensively, the side may struggle when not in control of the ball. Given that Chelsea tends to dominate the ball in games, this is something that needs to be exploited.
Mason Mount has always looked like a promising player for Chelsea and under Graham Potter, he looks to have finally grasped a number 10 role with real conviction. His ability to create chances and possess great finishing ability makes him a serious threat to any opposition this season.
The Chelsea youth product has excelled in a creative role for Chelsea this season and is currently in a great run of form, having five goal involvements in his last four games for Chelsea. The playmaker will undoubtedly be a man that Ten Hag has to worry about in the upcoming game as he plays between the lines and he could be the key for Chelsea to grab a hold of the game by its very neck.
A recent summer signing, Antony, came with a very high price tag of approximately £86M. Despite this, the Brazilian winger has proven to be a terrific threat under Ten Hag and always looks to have a goal in him – he also became the first United player to score in each of his first three appearances in the Premier League.
Dynamic, pacey, and dangerous when cutting inside, the winger will be a key player for United as he will look to exploit any weaknesses of the wingbacks in the game and will aim to push the wide players as far back as possible to put United on the front foot. This side of the pitch between the right winger and left fullback will dictate the game and be crucial to whoever wins the game.
Chelsea predicted lineup vs Manchester United: Kepa, Chalobah, Silva, Koulibaly, Loftus-Cheek, Kovacic, Jorginho, Cucurella, Mount, Sterling, Aubameyang.
Manchester United predicted lineup vs Chelsea: De Gea, Dalot, Varane, Martinez, Shaw, Casemiro, Fred, Antony, Fernandes, Sancho, Rashford.