Manchester United v Chelsea – The starting XI

by Tom Parker

David de GeaA dead cert to start given his impressive start to the season and the comparative lack of competition for the number one jersey.

Phil Jones – Impressive at right-back in the absence of Rafael and with the Brazilian weeks away from a return, Jones should continue at full-back where he offers defensive solidarity if being a little less spectacular than the marauding Da Silva.

Nemanja Vidic – With Moyes favouring experience over untested youth in the early stages of his United career, the skipper will be vital in marshalling the United defence in their sternest test yet. The big Serb looked bloody good against Swansea too!

Jonny Evans – Started for the reserves in mid-week which is a good indication that Jonny will start with his pace and anticipation set to be vital in allowing United to play a high-line at Old Trafford.

Patrice Evra – Has started the season in an impressive vein of form and will continue at left-back where he has looked good going forward and sound in his own defensive third. Guaranteed starter.

Michael Carrick – As vital as anyone to the current United side, Carrick is often pivotal on the big occasion where his ability to sit deep and dictate as well as his impeccable positioning will be important to United securing victory.

chelsea-homeTom Cleverley – Set to rekindle his good partnership with Carrick in midfield and has looked OK in pre-season if a little unspectacular.

Antonio Valencia – The Ecuadorian has given Ashley Cole on a few occasions in the past. Valencia offers width from the right as well as a decent attacking threat as well as extra defensive protection. Should get the nod over Zaha due to his enhanced experience.

Danny Welbeck – Has been a revelation in the early stages of the season and can hopefully carry on where he left off versus Swansea, operating from the left side yet given license to roam.

Wayne Rooney – After an impressive cameo, Rooney could start with the proposition of unleashing the unpredictable striker against his not-so-secret admirers may prove mouth-watering for Moyes, a risk which could pay off or backfire massively.

Robin van Persie – Classy Robin has started with a flourish scoring four in two games and will be expected to find the net as the focal point of United’s attack once more.

Formation

I’d expect United to use a similar setup to that which was used at the Liberty Stadium last weekend with a 4-4-1-1 formation likely to be preferred.

The setup has not differed greatly from the previous season despite wholesale changes to the back room staff. The playing staff still remain the same though and it appears Moyes is adhering to the ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.’

Welbeck and Rooney are likely to change position regularly throughout the contest with Welbeck’s tireless work rate allowing him to pressure the ball high, pick it up deep and run at Chelsea’s back four. Equally, Rooney’s role will be of critical importance as he will be required to be the creative heartbeat from the number ten position and get tight to Frank Lampard who tends to start the Blues’ attack from deep.

The inclusion of Evans alongside Vidic or Ferdinand should allow United to in theory at least play a high defensive line without worrying about the possibility of a Chelsea counter-attack. Evans offers pace and mobility which sometimes lack when the more sluggish Ferdinand and Vidic are partnered together.

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