Chelsea vs Man Utd preview: Why Aubameyang is the wrong man to trouble Red Devils and Ten Hag has pressing dilemma

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OLD enemies are reunited as soon as extra as two of English soccer’s most adorned sides go head-to-head at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Chelsea versus Manchester United was a title-deciding fixture within the Premier League for a interval of seven years from 2004 to 2011.

EPABoth video games between Chelsea and Man Utd final season ended a draw[/caption]

Chelsea maintain the sting over United within the head-to-head

Now, it’s merely one other high 4 fixture.

Nonetheless, the animosity between each units of followers has remained prevalent from the mid-to-late noughties, which means this sport is at all times an exquisite spectacle for neutrals and supporters alike.

Erik ten Hag’s aspect can not afford to lose this sport.

With the Blues sitting above United within the league desk, failure to get a end result on the Bridge will deal an early blow to the Purple Devils’ hopes of covertly climbing into one of many Champions League spots.


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Nonetheless, a victory for Ten Hag’s crew would see the guests overleap Chelsea, following the ends in mid-week which noticed Man Utd thwart Tottenham Hotspur, whereas the Londoners fell to a goalless draw towards Brentford.

Graham Potter’s Chelsea are arguably nonetheless the favourites on this late Saturday conflict of the titans.

In eight video games in command of the West Londoners, Potter is but to be put to the sword and has his crew sitting inside the highest 4.

Whereas not utterly overhauling the system from Thomas Tuchel’s reign on the membership, the previous Brighton head coach has tweaked issues barely to get Chelsea scoring objectives whereas conserving it tight on the again.


Potter didn’t really want to renovate the complete constructing, however to re-stabilise the foundations.

In the meantime, the person within the reverse dugout is tasked with reconstructing the complete framework with no blueprint, and the outcomes have been blended to date.

To Ten Hag’s credit score, whereas United’s performances have been slightly inconsistent for the reason that starting of the marketing campaign, the crew are growing a tactical identification on the pitch, one thing that has maybe been missing for a few seasons now.

With victories over Liverpool, league-leaders Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur already this season, Manchester United have confirmed that they’ll get outcomes towards higher opposition and so might pose a severe risk to Potter’s unbeaten begin.

Relating to the hosts, this would be the first actual take a look at for Potter since his appointment to the dugout and it will likely be essential to cross with flying colors to keep away from undesirable questions rising early into his tenure.

Ten Hag’s striker woes

Earlier than each Manchester United sport, one of many main speaking factors is about who will lead the road.

The plain reply – earlier than he was axed – would have been for Ten Hag to pick the person that has scored over 800 objectives for membership and nation over the previous twenty years.

Nonetheless, even earlier than his tantrum towards Tottenham, Cristiano Ronaldo’s performances have left lots to be desired this season.

The Portuguese celebrity has bagged only one non-penalty objective this season from a complete of 35 photographs and is vastly underperforming on his xG of 4.46

Having as soon as been essentially the most menacing frontman in world soccer, age has lastly caught as much as the veteran, mortalising the immortal.

Even when Ten Hag had been pondering of utilizing him, he’s been dropped from the squad for the game against Chelsea after refusing to return on as a sub within the 2-0 win over Tottenham.

Ten Hag has but to choose a quantity ‘9’ since taking management of the lads’s first-team in the summertime. 

After exhibiting glimpses of excellence in pre-season, Anthony Martial was touted to be the principle man for United.

Martial has 4 objective involvements in three Prem appearances

Sadly, harm after harm has hampered the Frenchman’s game-time beneath the Dutch coach regardless of trying sharp within the restricted minutes that he has performed to date.

The one different choice for the 52-year-old is to deploy Marcus Rashford down the centre.

The England worldwide isn’t a pure striker however has carried out admirably when referred to as upon by his coach.

Whereas the bar was unimaginably low final season, Rashford has already matched his tally of 5 objectives within the 2022/23 marketing campaign in all competitions.

Rashford is much extra medical this time round too. Having taken 5 much less photographs than within the earlier season already, the 24-year-old has scored simply as many objectives – a rise in his objective conversion by 1.6 p.c.

Ten Hag even trialled Christian Eriksen and Bruno Fernandes in a joint-false 9 position towards Brighton and Hove Albion on the opening day, however this experiment was a disaster, with United falling 2-1 at house to the Seagulls.

Forward of this weekend, Ten Hag should resolve who his centre-forward will probably be to sort out the most effective defences within the Premier League.

Rashford is doubtlessly the most suitable choice for this sport. In victories over Liverpool and Arsenal, Manchester United have been so lethal from transitional conditions towards their opponents’ excessive line.

Each the Reds and the Gunners struggled to cope with the velocity of Rashford in behind because the Englishman managed to attain thrice throughout the 2 matches.

Bruno Fernandes was capable of make a banana cross to seek out the run of Rashford behind Arsenal’s excessive backline. The pure huge ahead made no mistake and tucked it previous Aaron Ramsdale for the eventual winner.

Chelsea are more likely to have extra of the ball similar to Liverpool and Arsenal did and though the Purple Devils have been making an attempt to transition right into a extra possession-oriented crew, sitting deep, absorbing strain and utilizing the tempo of Rashford by the center could also be their greatest wager on the Bridge this weekend.

Will Chelsea press Manchester United?

Graham Potter has at all times been a progressive coach.

Although it’s nonetheless early days, the brand new Blues boss has begun to mould Chelsea to play his preferential tactical type.

Potter desires his gamers to dominate possession and press excessive up the pitch once they don’t have it, which has turn into the brand new blueprint for contemporary teaching.

Nonetheless, sustaining excessive strain has been troublesome for Chelsea this season because of the addition of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

The Gabonese striker is keen to press in spells however should be cautious to not overwork himself given he doesn’t have the legs he as soon as had on the peak of his powers.

Towards Aston Villa on Sunday, Chelsea got here away with all three factors in a 2-0 victory at Villa Park. 

Nonetheless, this scoreline flattered to deceive as Steven Gerrard’s strugglers peppered 16 photographs at Kepa Arrizabalaga who had a nice efficiency in objective. Seven of those strikes have been heading in the right direction too. 

Had Villa performed like that of their 3-0 loss to Fulham, perhaps he wouldn’t have been sacked.

General, the Villans boasted an xG of 1.88 to Chelsea’s 1.32 on the day and will have, and presumably ought to have scored no less than one objective however for Kepa’s heroics on the day.

One of many causes Chelsea struggled defensively, regardless of not conceding, was due to their lack of strain within the closing third, notably within the first half.

Chelsea dropped off and settled right into a medium-level block when Villa have been taking part in out from the again, permitting the defenders and goalkeeper to cross the ball round unscathed beneath little to no strain

The hosts have been capable of play by the thirds of the pitch with ease and pin Chelsea right into a deeper defensive block. Even the goalkeeper, Emiliano Martinez, started to push larger outdoors his space, creating an auxiliary again three with the 2 central defenders because of the room that the guests afforded them.

Within the first 45 minutes of play, Chelsea registered a Passes allowed Per Defensive Motion (PPDA) price of 10.3.

This metric measures what number of passes a defending crew permits their opponents to have earlier than stepping in to problem for the ball.

Basically, Villa made 10.3 passes earlier than the Blues tried to win it again.

Within the closing thirty minutes of the sport, when Aubameyang left the sector of play, Chelsea’s PPDA decreased to six.7, which means that Potter’s aspect started urgent extra, permitting Villa much less time on the ball.

Coincidentally, within the time remaining after Aubameyang was substituted, Villa had merely two photographs.

At all times bear in mind, the centre-forward is the very first defender. 

With the previous Arsenal man on the pitch, groups are discovering it fairly straightforward to bypass the preliminary strain and progress into deeper areas.

Since his return to the Premier League, Aubameyang’s affect out of possession for Chelsea in all competitions has been minimal and virtually non-existent because the skilled striker has mustered simply 1 excessive regain, 2 counterpressing recoveries and no harmful recoveries

Manchester United have had the identical conundrum on their arms ever since Cristiano Ronaldo returned to the membership close to the start of the 2021/22 marketing campaign.

What will probably be fascinating to see is whether or not Potter chooses to press Man United.

Because the 20-time champions have proven this season, they’re prone to errors when taking part in out from the again.

Even final Sunday, the Purple Devils got here shut to creating a howler when David de Gea performed a hospital cross to the weaker proper foot of Fred, who struggles beneath strain anyway.

Fred referred to as for the ball regardless of being beneath strain and de Gea obliged to play him the ball which just about led to catastrophe for Man United

Newcastle United got here near capitalising on the error however the Mancunian aspect scrambled the ball away ultimately.

Nonetheless, a stronger Chelsea ahead line could also be much less forgiving.

It might not be a serious shock if Potter opted to maintain Aubameyang on the bench from the get-go both to reap the benefits of United’s vulnerabilities in their very own third of the pitch, utilising a participant extra keen to be lively within the excessive press as a substitute.

Will Man United go toe-to-toe with Chelsea?

A number of parallels could be drawn between Potter and ten Hag.

Each are sturdy admirers of Manchester Metropolis coach Pep Guardiola and have related concepts about how soccer must be performed.

Nonetheless, it has been extra simple for Potter to use his philosophy to Chelsea than his counterpart within the reverse dugout this weekend on condition that the Englishman had extra strong bedrock to work upon with the Blues.

Ten Hag has primarily overseen two tactical overhauls already at Previous Trafford and he has solely been in cost for the reason that summer season.

Initially of the season, the Dutchman was cussed along with his systematic strategy, putting emphasis on build-up play from the again and fixed ball retention.

Following humiliating back-to-back defeats to Brighton and Brentford, ten Hag realised that if you happen to don’t study to bend, you’ll inevitably break.

De Gea performed to Christian Eriksen along with his again turned. The Dane was pressed by his Danish compatriot Mathias Jensen who nicked the ball contained in the field and positioned it house to punish United for sloppy build-up play

Within the subsequent 5 league outings, which included spectacular victories over Liverpool and Arsenal, the coach reverted to a extra pragmatic set-up with the gamers instructed to sit down deep in a low defensive block for giant elements of the sport with the intention to take in strain, earlier than quickly hitting their opponents on the break, whereas additionally going lengthy from goal-kicks.

After a couple of weeks of success, the Derby day decimation ended this strategy.

Ten Hag made a aware determination to alter again to the type of play he was dropped at Manchester to combine.

Wins towards Everton, Omonia Nicosia and a draw with Newcastle United proceeded.

Nonetheless, it was Wednesday’s essential high 4 bout at house to third-placed Tottenham Hotspur the place ten Hag’s imaginative and prescient was dropped at life.

In doubtlessly essentially the most dominant show on the Theatre of Desires for years, Manchester United comfortably forged Spurs apart 2-0, having dominated the ball with 52 p.c possession and 28 photographs peppered in the direction of Hugo Lloris’ objective.

Presumably the most important query looming over Saturday’s night Battle on the Bridge is whether or not Ten Hag seems to take an analogous strategy to the midweek bout.

The foremost distinction is that Antonio Conte’s Spurs generally tend to cede possession to their opponents, notably in large video games away from house which facilitated United’s attacking supremacy all through the match.

Proper up till Fred opened the scoring, Tottenham’s game-plan was to sit down in a 5-3-2 slender low block and take in strain from Man United, with the intention of stopping the aspect from creating clear-cut alternatives and to punish them on the break. This was a catastrophic failure

On this sport, Potter won’t permit the guests to show such ball-dominance and can possible need his crew to be those which are answerable for the match, forcing United right into a deeper form.

It’s possible that ten Hag will undertake a versatile strategy in London, a hybrid gameplan which might see United being dogged and compact of their 4-2-3-1 form, defending for giant elements of the match, but additionally way more expansive and braver on the ball than within the fixtures towards Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester Metropolis.

What does all this imply?

Manchester United’s victory on Wednesday put the crew inside a degree of their high 4 rivals.

A win at Stamford Bridge wouldn’t solely push the Reds into one of many prized Champions League slots however would additionally show to the world that this aspect can get a end result away from house in a sport towards higher opponents.

For Chelsea, it’s the first time that Potter has been examined to date throughout his reign by a Premier League outfit.


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The match versus Man Utd will both be a actuality examine for the Blues or else a take a look at handed with flying colors.

There’s not often a uninteresting affair between these two giants of English soccer. Let’s hope this one isn’t any completely different.

The Complete Soccer Evaluation World Cup Preview Journal will probably be out on November 1st – if you wish to know every little thing it’s essential to know tactically about each aspect in Qatar then ensure you have taken out a membership in time!

Author: Nicholas Brooks