Chelsea vs Manchester United: Potential XI with Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford up front

by Leo Nieboer

Jose Mourinho made it clear ahead of the 2-0 win over Benfica that he was solely focused on the clash with the Portuguese champions and not thinking about Sunday’s crucial trip to Stamford Bridge.

But his team selection suggested otherwise: Phil Jones, Ashley Young, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Ander Herrera and Antonio Valencia were all left out of the starting XI.

And you sense they will all serve as integral aspects of Mourinho’s game plan as he looks to outfox Antonio Conte – with whom he has enjoyed some entertaining public spats – once again.

With that in mind, here is a potential XI for the visit to Stamford Bridge.

The presence of Young and Valencia as outlets out wide will be crucial to letting Nemanja Matic, making a return to his old club, take control of proceedings in the middle whilst Ander Herrera sets about nullifying the lively Eden Hazard.

Mourinho cannot afford to let Chelsea set the tempo out wide and pin United back like they did last season. He will want Young and Valencia to take the game to Chelsea and contribute going forward on the flanks as a basis for their attacking dynamic.

But the key to United’s success at Stamford Bridge comes further up the pitch. Last season’s 2-0 defeat at Old Trafford, along with their recent capitulation in Rome, has shown Chelsea’s defence to be vulnerable and disjointed when they have to contend with physically imposing attacking players targeting their centre backs in a direct, no-nonsense fashion.

And supporters will just hope that Marcus Rashford and particularly Romelu Lukaku, also playing against his former employers, can give the likes of Gary Cahill and David Luiz the jitters from minute one and set the right tone at a ground that hasn’t been too kind to them over the years.

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