Man Utd v Chelsea predicted XIs: Team news as Thomas Tuchel picks Reece James’ best position
Manchester United host Chelsea on Thursday in a game that could have a big impact on the Premier League’s top four (7:45pm kick-off UK time).
It’s the third big game in a row for Man Utd, who have lost to Liverpool and Arsenal in their past two matches, dealing a severe blow to their top four hopes. The Red Devils are now six points behind fourth-placed Arsenal having played a game more. Chelsea, on the other hand, recovered from their own defeat to Arsenal to beat West Ham and opened up a seven-point gap over sixth-placed Tottenham Hotspur with a game in hand.
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Man Utd team news vs Chelsea
- Outs: Luke Shaw, Paul Pogba, Edinson Cavani, Fred, Jadon Sancho, Harry Maguire
- Doubts: Aaron Wan-Bissaka
Man Utd’s injury woes continue to pile up with Fred, Harry Maguire and Jadon Sancho joining Luke Shaw, Paul Pogba and Edinson Cavani on the sidelines. Aaron Wan-Bissaka is also a doubt.
Predicted Man Utd XI vs Chelsea:
- De Gea; Dalot, Varane, Lindelof, Telles; Matic, McTominay; Elanga, Fernandes, Rashford; Ronaldo. (4-2-3-1)
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Chelsea team news vs Man Utd
- Ins: Antonio Rudiger, Reece James, Andreas Christensen
- Outs: Mateo Kovacic, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Ben Chilwell, Reece Barkley
Antonio Rudiger returned to training on Tuesday after a groin and hamstring problem, and the German could go straight back into the starting XI given the form of Andreas Christensen and Thomas Tuchel’s apparent doubts over Trevoh Chalobah.
Also back in training was Reece James, who missed the win over West Ham with a minor problem. The Englishman has been one of Chelsea’s star players when fit, causing a lot of problems for opponents when playing at wing-back, though he has recently deputised on the right of Chelsea’s back three.
Despite this recent change, Tuchel is likely to deploy James at right-wing-back, believing this to be his best position – although he admitted having two of James would solve his problem a lot better.
“I would love to have two of Reece James so the problem would be solved,” Tuchel told reporters.
“It’s 55 per cent towards wing-back, 45 per cent towards back three. It depends also how the opponent plays against us. Do we expect a lot of possession? How is their structure for offensive transition?
“It can sometimes be very helpful for us if Reece plays in the back three, to be the first guy to cover in transition with his speed and physicality.
“I’m leaning a bit more his very best position is the wing-back position when he can be more decisive, but it’s more demanding. The next step is to be a regular player over 55, 60 matches. Then we decide, but both positions are filled with top quality with him.”
Predicted Chelsea XI vs Man Utd:
- Mendy; Azpilicueta, Silva, Rudiger; James, Loftus-Cheek, Kante, Alonso; Mount; Havertz, Werner. (3-4-1-2)