Category Archives: Previews

Preview: PSG vs Manchester United

Wednesday night sees Manchester United travel to Paris to take on Paris Saint-Germain in the second leg of their Champions League fixture in which the Red Devils are currently trailing by two goals.

Marcus Rashford and Romelu Lukaku are expected to both start with Solskjaer set to alter the formation of the side and deploy either Fred or Andreas Pereira in the middle to replace the suspended Paul Pogba.

Manchester United are not expected to win on Wednesday due to the gulf of class shown in the first fixture between the two sides as well as the recent injury crisis that has hit united leaving them missing many first team players.

Solskjaer will hope for a positive performance ahead of a very important few weeks for the club as they travel to The Emirates in a crucial game in the race for top four before heading to Wolves in the quarter- finals of the FA Cup to allow the possibility of silverware this season a reality.

Man United’s Injury News:

Ander Herrera, Nemanja Matic, Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata, Phil Jones, Alexis Sanchez and Antonio Valencia will all be missing for the game in Paris due to injury. Whilst Paul Pogba is suspended due to being sent off in the reverse fixture.

PSG Injury News:

The French champions will still be missing Neymar due to his metatarsal injury he suffered earlier in the season, whilst Edinson Cavani is in contention to feature but still may be a doubt.

Man United’s 20-man travelling squad:

Goalkeepers: David De Gea, Lee Grant, Sergio Romero

Defenders: Ashley Young, Luke Shaw, Diogo Dalot, Marcus Rojo, Eric Bailly, Chris Smalling, Victor Lindelof, Brandon Williams.

Midfielders: Scott McTominay, Andreas Pereira, Fred, James Garner, Angel Gomes.

Forwards: Romelu Lukaku, Tahith Chong, Marcus Rashford Mason Greenwood.

Mason Greenwood and Brandon Williams who are both yet to make their senior debut for the club have travelled alongside James Garner and Tahith Chong who have both made their senior debuts in recent weeks. Angel Gomes who made his debut at the end of last season has also travelled in the 20-man squad.

Possible Man United Starting XI:


Possible PSG Starting XI:



Preview: Manchester United vs Southampton

Manchester United can move into fourth spot if they get all three points at home to the Saints and Arsenal fail to win against Spurs. Southampton are coming off the back of a big win against relegation bound Fulham and will be eager to get something from the game as they enter a tough run of games .

United will hope to get all three point tomorrow afternoon before their second leg fixture in the Champions League last-16 against PSG midweek, a trip to Arsenal in the league and an away fixture fixture against Wolverhampton Wanderers to earn a place in the FA Cup semi-finals.

Man United’s Injury News:

In-form forward Marcus Rashford could be set to start after coming off the bench on Saturday due to a recent ankle injury which occurred during the North West Derby against Liverpool.

Anthony Martial has also been out injured since the home fixture against PSG however, the chances of the Frenchman starting are slim.

Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard and Ander Herrera are all doubtful as they began recovery sessions on Wednesday. Whilst both Matteo Darmian and Marcos Rojo are available again for Solskjaer.

Man United’s Possible XI:

(’s Injury News:

Mario Lemina is out due to an abdominal problem and Hasenhuttl confirmed that Danny Ings had missed training with a hamstring problem and will not feature on Saturday.

Southampton’s Possible Starting XI:


Preview: Crystal Palace vs Manchester United

With Manchester United visiting, Roy Hodgson’s Palace have got to impress as their run of six games without a win may set to continue with the home side failing to win any of their 17 Premier League meetings with Manchester United (D3, L14) which is a Premier League record for most games against an opponent without winning.

The Eagles will want to put on a good show in front of their home fans after a demoralising late 0-1 home defeat to Tottenham Hotspurs last time out. They will need goals from somewhere as Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke’s six league goals between them will not spark their home crowd with confidence going against the leagues most resilient defence.

United Injury News:

United are missing six first team regulars for Monday night’s fixture.

Ander Herrera will miss out due to his recent muscle injury , while Daley Blind remains in rehab from an ankle problem which has kept him out of the side for sometime; possibly to the happiness of some fans.

Centre back pairing of Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones are also ruled out with knocks, with

             Fellaini remains sidelined.

Jose confirming that they have not been considered for selection.

Regarding Fellaini, Mourinho explained on Friday: “He’s still a young player, his injury had a little surgery, a minor surgery, and he will be back to play again in a couple of weeks.” Which will give the squad a greater depth in midfield alongside Ander’s return as the United midfield three could begin to strain with the accumulation of matches.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has recently returned back to first team training but will be unlikely to be involved in the fixture despite being confirmed that the Swede is not currently ‘injured’. The experienced striker has reportedly stated that he doesn’t believe he will be of value in his current physical state and will continue to train hard and be back soon.

With Chelsea dropping points and falling to 5th place United could stretch the gap to 9 points with a win tonight and will give them great momentum going into the derby weekend game against on-form Liverpool.

Predicted lineups:

Crystal Palace starting XI:

Hennessey, Wan-Bissaka, Kelly, Delaney, Van Aanholt, McArthur, Milivojevic, Riedewald, Townsend, Benteke, Sorloth

Zaha still out injured and Timothy-Fosu Mensah not allowed to play against parent club.

Man United starting XI:

De Gea, Valencia, Smalling, Lindelof, Shaw, Mctominay, Matic, Pogba, Rashford, Sanchez, Lukaku

Mourinho may be tempted to play Eric Bailly to regain fitness ahead of the Liverpool game on Saturday. Also the right midfield spot could be anyone’s with Martial out, Rashford could be tipped by Jesse Lingard or Juan Mata. 

Man Utd’s Defence Must Step Up

This season has had its ups and downs. We’ve progressed a lot this year in comparison to recent seasons. Our attackers are a lot more clinical, less loose touches, winning a lot more and conceding a lot less. However, how much of that is down to the defenders?

This season we have seen save after save from David De Gea, who looks like he’s better than ever before. Having watched all the matches, it feels as though he’s been busier than he really should be in the Man Utd goal. But as good as he is, he shouldn’t be tested as much as he has been this season. Have the defence been doing their bit in defending the goalkeeper, or is all what it appears?

I’ve been researching the stats to see just how good or bad the defence has been this season.

Here’s how we compare to the rest of the top six:

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Stats Calculated from &

In terms of the tackle success rate in the Premier League this season, Liverpool are surprisingly the most clinical; having a 72% tackle success rate which is second only to Bournemouth. The advantage to being clinical in tackling is the opposition are less likely to get through to shoot on goal. Fewer shots on goal will naturally give the opposition less opportunity to score a goal (Common Sense). Manchester United are ranked 18th in the tackle success rate with only 65%. Poor tackling means more shots on our goal which is one of the reasons we’re seeing so much of De Gea this season.

This is backed up by how many saves the goalkeeper has made from the top six. Man Utd sit second behind Swansea, De Gea has saved an average of 3.5 shots on target per match. The other top six team’s goal keepers have been the most quiet during games in terms of saves so far this season. De Gea is not being protected! However, due to his excellence between the sticks we have been one of the best defences in the league.

Just to drive the point home:

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This table shows how many shots our opponent has had against the top six per game. Then shots on target, goals conceded, shot accuracy and conversion rate.

The top five in the table are ranked in terms of shots conceded per game and how many of those shots are on target from 1st – 5th in the league: However, Man Utd are ranked 8th, behind Crystal Palace and Huddersfield. United are having to save more than twice the amount of shots on target from the opposition than Man City, and significantly more than the other four teams.

You can also see our opponent’s shot accuracy: 37.13% of all shots against Man Utd are on target, which means they’re generally getting into better shooting positions than they are against our rivals. It’s starting to seem a myth that our defence is up to standard and it’s being masked by having the world’s best goalkeeper behind them. Only 6.75% of all shots against us have beaten the goalkeeper, which is the second best behind Burnley who have had to make fewer saves than Man Utd.

Our defence must start stepping up as it will continue to result in us haemorrhaging points as already demonstrated against Leicester and Burnley (Conceding two goals in each). De Gea is a brick wall, we all know that: But it doesn’t give our defence the luxury of switching off from their responsibilities!


*On a side note, it appears that Liverpool’s defence is actually doing well this season, and it’s the goalkeeper that’s the weak link at the back. Amusing that they have forked out £75mil on a defender; could have spent half of that on an excellent Goalkeeper which has been their problem position this season. Cheered me up anyways, hopefully it does you guys too!

Man Utd’s Crossing Conundrum

Man Utd appear to have a serious lack of ability in crossing during recent seasons. Something which has been highlighted this season with having a very physical striker who could score a lot more goals through quality crosses.

How does this season compare to those seasons previous in terms of; Crosses Per Game, Crossing Accuracy and Successful Crosses Per Game?

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Under Fergie, Man Utd played fast down the wings with quality crosses which usually either resulted in a goal, or forced an own goal. In the 12/13 season Man Utd made an average of 22 crosses per game, over five over those crosses made it successfully into the striker. The number of crosses went up over Moyes but the quality was slightly worse. There were still more than five successful crosses per match.

The two seasons under LvG (with his philosophy), the number of crosses, accuracy and therefore successful crosses had plummeted in his second season. 21 crosses per match with only a 19% chance of finding its target meant that there were less than four accurate crosses per match. However, Martial was the main striker (with Rashford later) on who prefer to receive the ball on the ground and use their pace!

In Mourinho’s first season, United’s crossing accuracy sharply rose to 24% giving us over five crosses per match. This season however, Man Utd’s crossing has become less accurate and Lukaku has only 4 crosses on average per match to feed off.

These are the top five players at crossing for Man Utd who have played over 5 matches:

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Not one player manages an average of more than one successful cross per game. That’s simply not good enough when we need to utilise our striker’s best assets; strength an aerial ability. We either need a drastic change of general style of play, or more realistically; purchase a player with excellent crossing skills.

World’s Best Crossers 17/18:

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Calculated from Stats at

Four of the five players have already been linked to Man Utd over the last few transfer windows. The only player on the list that hasn’t is Bourigeaud.

The two players that excite me the most on the list are Philipp and Kimmich: Both young, both play in positions that need strengthening and both are affordable. Max in on fire this season, making almost the same amount of crosses per game as the Man Utd team combined and already making nine assists. He’s only 24 and would be significantly cheaper than Danny Rose at roughly £15-£20mil.

Manchester United must work on their crossing, it’s starting to hamper the team by not having the option of going wide and attacking from the flanks. It’s becoming predictable an easy to play against. We need activity in the market and I would be happy with Max or Kimmich as realistic solutions. This is where we need the board to step up!

Man Utd’s Overall Progression Under Mourinho

There have been many articles showing how much Man Utd has progressed under Jose Mourinho since the dark days of Moyes and LvG. However, just how much have Man Utd progressed and where has the progression been made? Is the improvement mainly in attack, or is it the defence?The answer may shock a few people.

Man Utd have scored a significant amount of goals so far this season, and kept the most clean sheets in the league. Does that mean we’re more clinical in front of goal compared to previous seasons? Are the strikers more accurate? How about the defence; are the defenders pulling their weight or are we relying too much on the best goalkeeper in the world?

Let’s start with the overall performance: Focusing on win percentage, chances per game and goals per game compared to the previous five seasons.
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Starting with the win percentage, Man Utd have been on a steady decline since LvG’s first season up to and including Mourinho’s first season. This season has seen the win percentage rocket from 47% last season (lowest ever) to 72% which is the best since Ferguson was in charge.

Chances and goals per game have both also shot up to the highest numbers we’ve seen since we last won the league. In most other season’s, Man Utd would be top of the league with the points we have, goals we’ve scored and win rate. It’s just unfortunate that our arch rivals are having a freakish season, but fans need to look past it and trust that we’re on the right path.

Next are stats specifically on the strikers: Comparing how many shots per game they’re getting off, how accurate they are with those shots and what percentage they’re converting to goals.
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To save any confusion, the axis on the left hand side of the graph is purely for the shot accuracy (the red line). The shots per game and shot conversion % are both using the right hand axis for the numbers.

Man Utd had a hat full of shots last season, but they also had the worst shot conversion rate (9.1%) of any Premier League season. Fortunately this season it has shot up to one of the best conversion rate of 16.5% of all shots at goal finding the back of the net. Shot accuracy (% shots on target) has steadily improved over Jose Mourinho’s watch. Our attackers have really improved under this management.

Onto the defenders: Mourinho is renowned for his defensive discipline and improving defenders to provide a solid base to play from. Knowing that if you score a goal the chances of you winning dramatically improve knowing the opposition will unlikely score. So how have they progressed?
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Let’s start with the goals conceded per game. This figure has steadily come down over the last six years and continues to do so this season. The defence isn’t leaking many goals at all, and with the strikers performing better this can only be a good thing.

However, let’s look at how clinical our defenders have been under Jose. The percentage of successful tackles has taken a drastic nose-dive. We’ve gone from averaging 75% successful tackles under Moyes and LvG to 67% over the last two seasons under Jose.

The result of poor tackling is more players getting through to shooting opportunities against our goal. So for our defence to continue to concede so few goals it’ll mean that David De Gea is being worked harder and saving more shots per game. Which is accurately reflected in the stats; he’s gone from saving 2.24 shots per game last season (a career low) to saving 3.83 shots per game this season (a career high).

The questions are: why is that? What’s happened to our defence this season to be so unsuccessful in tackling? It’s a problem that needs sorting out soon. Fans are calling for Man Utd to spend all the January budget on offensively minded players, which I agree we do need a better number 10: But perhaps we shouldn’t overlook the fact that the defenders are struggling this season and we may need an increase in defensive quality during the January market.

Progress is massive under Mourinho in such a short space of time. More wins, more goals, more chances, fewer goals conceded. Just need to improve tackling to save De Gea needing to make too many last ditch saves and risk conceding a greater number of goals in the future.

If this rate of progression continues, success is sure to follow!

Top Six Seasonal Form – When Does Form Peak and Plummet?

As we have seen so far this season, Man City’s form is relentless regarding winning a record run of games. This article will focus on the characteristics of the top six in terms of when they usually hit peak form, and when they go through bad patches.

How true are the rumours that Arsenal Bottle it after Xmas, and that Man Utd hit peak towards the end of the season? Let’s find out! All the stats here are based on fixtures over the last 10 years.

Manchester United
Let’s start with Man Utd’s average form over a season during the last 10 years. This is based on the points tally over a five game rolling period.
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Without teaching you to suck eggs, as you can read the graph yourself: Man Utd start slowly and grow into the league and have a mini peak going into the Christmas Period. Form generally drops in the New Year but still better than the start of the season; which is where Man Utd really find their form and peak during the crunch phase of the season. We then drop off significantly at the end of April which could be explained by either winning or losing the league with nothing left to play for.

Man Utd vs Man City
Man City have won the last 16 league matches in a row which in terms of any of their previous seasons is a freak run. Do Man Utd have any hope that this form will drop off in terms of usual form character over the last 10 years?
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There couldn’t be much more contrast between the two teams. Almost like a Yin and Yang…

Man City start the season well, but then drop off gradually up to and including the Christmas Period, they peak just after the New Year, then drastically drop off in Feb to the end of April. Then they have a sprint finish to the end of the season (last 5-7 games). Literally the opposite to Man Utd.

City’s bad form period is yet to come, they are currently entering peak form as a club and they usually drop off. Let’s hope that is the same this season. With Man Utd about to enter their form period there’s a hope we could still catch the current League leaders.

For interest, I’ll show how Man Utd’s form characteristics compare to the rest of the top six rivals and see if we’re likely to pull further away or get caught.

Let’s start with Arsenal to see if there’s any truth to the ‘Bottlers’ Banter.

Man Utd vs Arsenal
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Arsenal seem to have a triple peak, in both form and ‘bottling it’. The first plummet in form happened around this time of year then again at the crunch phase (Usually when they’re running away with it); and finally at the closing stages. Arsenal have been a team in the last 10 years that simply do not like being in front.

Man Utd vs Chelsea
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Chelsea’s form has a general gradual decline from the start of the season all the way to the New Year. It’s then when they start to pick up form and don’t drop off again until the end of the season, which seems to be a general trend for the top six (apart from Man City).

Man Utd vs Liverpool
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Liverpool’s form during the first half of the season is generally poor. The second half of the season is significantly better, so if Liverpool have a good start to a season they’ll be there or there abouts. Fortunately for Man Utd, that is not this season.

Man Utd vs Spurs
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Spurs peak in over Christmas but their form is poor both at the start and a gradual decline towards the end. If we don’t see Spurs react to the Man City loss and have a strong run during Christmas then they might not be in the running for top four.

To conclude, the Manchester Clubs are both performing above expected in terms of their run of form this season. However, with Man City’s form usually dropping off after Christmas, hopefully we can hang in there and start cutting the gap down.

As for Chelsea, the graph suggests they’ll be on Man Utd’s coat tails for the remainder of the season. If Man Utd don’t drop points in January, we could pull away. As for Spurs, Liverpool and Arsenal at this stage of the season and based on points difference and trends for the last 10 years I’d be very surprised if any of those teams passed us for the rest of the season.

Man City are obviously hot favourites being 11 points clear. However, based on past seasons that gap will certainly decrease by the end of the season. Second place will be between Chelsea and Man Utd, but based on stats, City will not drop to third from their current lead.

Bottom line, delusion or not, City’s form drops and Man Utd’s increases from January to the end of the season. Therefore City could be catchable. Man Utd need to keep chipping away and wait for the inevitable drop in Man City’s form to apply a bit of pressure.

Three ways United can exploit City

Manchester United take on rivals Manchester City in the Premier League on Sunday at Old Trafford, with the Red Devils knowing that a win will take them only five points behind Pep Guardiola’s men.

City have looked vulnerable in recent weeks, but have continued to pick up crucial wins. Huddersfield Town, Southampton and West Ham United were all unlucky not to gain anything against City but those matches are a source of encouragement for Jose Mourinho.

City showed elements of weakness in those games and if United target these certain areas, then the three points could be won.

1) Set Pieces

It is a well known fact that Manchester City aren’t the best at defending set-pieces and have looked extremely shaky when opposition sides put balls into the box.

United need to have immaculate set-piece deliveries on Sunday and can’t afford any corners or free-kicks failing to beat the first man. Getting a corner against City will be hard enough so when the opportunity arises, the delivery has to be accurate.

Chris Smalling rising to head the ball from a set-piece. (picture:
Chris Smalling rising to head the ball from a set-piece. (picture:

Also, besides Vincent Kompany, City don’t have the biggest players, which automatically gives us an advantage. The likes of Chris Smalling, Nemanja Matic and Romelu Lukaku should all feel confident in the air going into this game and of course, there is Marouane Fellaini and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who can also be a nuisance in the air.

City conceded from corners against Huddersfield and West Ham, so it’s their obvious weak spot.

2) Attack their left-side of defence

Losing Benjamin Mendy was a real blow for City. Fabian Delph has covered into the left-back position but when he has come up against good wingers, he’s looked vulnerable. Danilo is also an option to start, but he has struggled to settle in since he moved to City.

Lingard wheels away to celebrate after scoring against Watford. (picture:
Lingard wheels away to celebrate after scoring against Watford. (picture:

The likes of Jesse Lingard and Romelu Lukaku need to peel away onto Delph (or Danilo) and run directly at him to get him on the back foot. Lingard should be confident of beating Delph with ease.

Also, Leroy Sane doesn’t have the best record of tracking back and helping out his full-back so if United try to attack down City’s left as much as possible, it could open up an opportunity to score.

3) Nullify De Bruyne

Kevin De Bruyne has the keys to unlock every defence in the Premier League. However, take him out of the picture and City will have a huge creative hole in their side.

United need Ander Herrera or Nemanja Matic to follow the Belgian everywhere he goes. Herrera may be better suited as he has already done the same job on Eden Hazard last season.

Ander Herrera may have a tough task of man-marking Kevin De Bruyne. (picture: football
Ander Herrera may have a tough task of man-marking Kevin De Bruyne. (picture: football

De Bruyne has eight assists in the league but without his creativity, City will find it hard to give service to their strikers and wingers, who thrive off his through balls.

Keep him quiet, which is easier said than done, then we have a great chance of inflicting a first defeat of the season on City.


What do you think? How do you think is the best way to exploit City?

Leave a comment below or get in touch on social media!

Michael Oliver – Derby Ref (Advantage to Manchester….?)

Michael Oliver is once again the allocated referee during a season defining match for Man Utd. He’s had some big calls before that have affected games: Herrera’s bizarre red card against Chelsea, Everton’s last minute penalty and a red card for Chris Smalling, against (you guessed it) Man City!

Man Utd seem to have dropped a lot of points whilst Mr Oliver has been officiating, but then so have City; remember the famous 4-2 loss away to Leicester? Having said all that, who actually has the ‘advantage’ with Oliver in charge? I’ll be looking at overall results, goals for and against, penalties and cards.

Let’s start with the overall results with total goals for and against both teams in the last 10 matches when Oliver has taken charge (in all competitions):
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Man Utd and Man City have both lost three games and conceded 11 goals each from the last 10 matches Oliver was the referee. The matches lost for Man Utd were against Chelsea in the FA cup, Watford and Norwich in the league. For Man City, they recorded losses against Leicester, Crystal Palace and Manchester United.

Man City have won more matches and scored significantly more. However, there’s not a huge amount of difference between the two. Based solely on results you’d have to edge advantage towards Man City; but Man Utd have beaten fierce rivals Man City in the same period.

Next we’ll look at penalties for and against and disciplinary points for and against the two teams:
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Before we start, the disciplinary points are calculated from:
4pts for a yellow card.
10pts for a red card (two yellows).
12pts for a straight red.

From the same period of matches, Man Utd have suffered more disciplinary action and had less disciplinary action given against their opponents. Man City have benefited more from Michael Oliver’s card distribution; receiving less and their opponents being punished more than those against Man Utd.

In terms of penalties, Man Utd have been awarded half the number of penalties and conceded three times as many. Therefore, you’d have to say Man City are more likely to have decisions in their favour in terms of the big decisions like penalties and red cards, based on recent history.

Lastly the Manchester Derby results that Michael Oliver has officiated:
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Michael Oliver has refereed three Manchester Derbies during his career, and at the moment it’s 2-1 to Man City in terms of results. Man Utd also received a red card in the 2014/15 season in the derby but no penalties given to either team in any of the matches.

All things considered; results, head to heads, goals, penalties and bookings, you’d have to say that Man City has had more rub of the green with Michael Oliver in charge and should be the happier of the two teams with this appointment. However, with Man City having so much luck already this season, surely their luck is to run out soon. Could it be during this weekend’s match of the Goliath’s?

One thing’s for sure. Whenever Man Utd fan’s see Oliver’s name as the official in charge they shiver inside, especially a match as important as this weekend.

Is there an advantage/ disadvantage to having certain referee’s? Have your say below!

Chelsea vs Man Utd – Premier League Preview

Match: Chelsea vs Manchester United

Competition: Premier League

Stadium: Stamford Bridge

Date & KO Time: Sun 5 Nov 17 at 1630 GMT

Where can you watch it? – Sky Sports Main Event
This is a huge match during the course of the Premier League this season. Mourinho, Matic and Mata all return to Stamford Bridge, united in their new team and fighting for Manchester United. Chelsea are in disarray at the moment with the spine of their team seeming weak. Kante has been out injured but is expected back for tomorrow’s clash, Luiz has been playing with a knock for the last few matches and Rudiger has been off form.

On the other hand, Lukaku is without a goal in the last 6 games in all competitions starting with the 0-0 draw away to Liverpool after the International-Break. Could this be the game he breaks his duck against his old club, he has failed to score against them in 6 previous matches. However, Pogba and Fellaini on the verge of returning to the first team this weekend will surely help Lukaku find the heights he reached at the start of the season.

Predicted Line Ups
Predicted Chelsea Line Up –

Manchester United
Predicted Man Utd Line Up –

Match Prediction
This will be a tight affair, Chelsea have been in poor form of late and will be desperate to win this one; despite the reported unrest in the Chelsea camp recently. Mourinho will be acutely aware of the potential mindset of the Chelsea players and will likely set up to nullify the atmosphere the Stamford Bridge. Jose will set up to defend tactfully in the first half and strike with pace on the counter attack.

I think Conte will attack timidly, relying heavily on Hazard to launch the attacks. If Chelsea fail to punch through United’s defence in the first half he may opt to go for a more attacking midfield by taking off one of his defensive midfielders which will open the game up for Man Utd to respond by bringing on their own pacey striker in Martial to bag another winner.

Score Prediction
Full Time – Chelsea 0 – 1 Man Utd
Half Time – Chelsea 0 – 0 Man Utd

League Table