Man Utd v Chelsea
Sunday 14:05, Sky Sports Main Event
Match Odds: Man Utd 2.35/4, Chelsea 3.412/5, The Draw 3.412/5.
Pogba likely to return
Jose Mourinho's team selection was the major talking point after the midweek Champions League matches this week, and all eyes will be on Paul Pogba here.
Pogba was omitted from the starting midweek trip to Sevilla, a 0-0 draw, although the Frenchman was forced into action early after Ander Herrera's injury. Here, Mourinho must decide quite how to incorporate Pogba into his side - which, coupled with a major decision about which formation to use, leaves United with plenty of question marks in their starting XI.
Mourinho has previously played a very reactive system against Chelsea, effectively deploying a narrow four-man defence in conjunction with very hard-working wingers, which looks more like a back six at times. Mourinho is determined not to be outnumbered by Chelsea's effective front five, which means he's liable to filling the side with defensive-minded players.
Man Utd back three?
But earlier this season Mourinho switched to a three-man defence, effectively matching Chelsea'sdefensive setup, and there's every chance he could do something similar here. At least one of Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo and Eric Bailly may return in defence alongside Chris Smalling and/or Victor Lindelhof, with Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young pushing forward to play up against Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses respectively.
Pogba will surely return to his starting role in a central midfield, presumably alongside ex-Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic. Herrera has often played a key role in this fixture in terms of marking Eden Hazard, but without that option Mourinho may have to ask his right-sided centre-back to stick tight, with Valencia tucking inside.
Going forward Mourinho will look for speed here, which probably means no Juan Mata against his former side. Expect Romelu Lukaku to spearhead United's attack, with Alexis Sanchez playing from the left. Jesse Lingard could start in the inside-right position.
Hazard to play false nine?
Antonio Conte's Chelsea played well against Barcelona in midweek, and with five days between that clash and this fixture, there's every chance he'll name an identical starting XI. That would mean Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud sitting out, with Hazard playing as a false nine.
Hazard prefers playing as an inside-left and therefore Morata could return in place of Pedro Rodriguez. Willian, who scored a fine goal against Barca and also struck the woodwork twice from similar positions outside the box, will surely retain his place here.
Cesc Fabregas showed he can offer defensive discipline against Barcelona and therefore should keep his place here. This could be an interesting battle between him and Pogba, two outstanding attack-minded central midfielders often accused of lacking the requisite positional sense to play in a two-man midfield against strong opposition.
Potential defensive changes
Defensively, Conte may make a change. Andreas Christensen made a crucial error against Barcelona and looked a little nervous throughout. David Luiz is still out injured, so there's a chance Gary Cahill could return to the side. With pace required against this United attack, though, it makes more sense to continue with Christensen.
This game will probably be decided in midfield. Fabregas and Pogba can dominate games like few others in the Premier League, but also have a habit of leaving their midfield partner isolated. Kante can cope with that, his former colleague Matic struggles and has looked rather immobile in recent weeks. With Hazard likely to be collecting the ball in pockets of space between the lines, that could cause United serious problems.
I think Chelsea are overpriced for this one, and Conte could get the better of Mourinho tactically. I'll back the away side at 3.613/5.