The Liverpool Echo’s David James has declared the Chelsea v Manchester United 2021 clash to be a “fire sale” of the rivalry. The former Blues boss Sir Alex Ferguson has come under fire for signing a trio of players from Chelsea, including defender Kenedydef and striker Samuel Eto’EO. Meanwhile, former Reds captain John Terry was recently released by the club, having been stripped of his England captaincy due to domestic violence charges. So, can Chelsea pull off a shock win over United and lift the Premier League trophy in March?
On paper, Chelsea have the stronger team. Due to the absence of Azoularta, Blues defender John Terry is in desperate need of an experienced left back. Spanish playmaker Leighton Baines has also recently returned to pre-season training following his release from Chelsea, while promising youngster Ruben Loftus-Cheek is in good form having impressed for Leicester City this season. However, United have a much better attacking arsenal. Robin van Persie is back, while compatriot Wayne Rooney is fit and firing on all pistols after missing last year’s cup win over Arsenal.
The similarities between Chelsea and Manchester United are in their stuttering attacks. Both clubs are bottom of the league in attempts to cross the halfway line only once per game, which is a testament to how poor their finishing is this season. United have a potent attack, but Leicester City have one of the best strike units in the league.
Despite the obvious threat posed by Thierry Henry, Leicester City’s attacking triumvirate of Jamie Vardy, Andrejinks, and Robert Etienne should be able to cause United any problems in central defense. This unit has combined for the most goals scored by a side in the league this season. Premier League newcomers Chris Samba and Islam Slimani provide the much needed creativity in attack, while France international Remy and former Barcelona starlet Kevin De Bruyne will be hungry for a goal to boost their side’s morale.
As with many English sides this season, the Leicester City attack is largely uninspired. They have simply not clicked as a unit this season. It is perhaps a lack of creativity and quality that has been the primary culprit here. Instead of sitting deep and playing compactly, Leicester City often play a fast, counterattacking style of football that puts their opponents under pressure and often forces them to make quick, rushed decisions on the pitch. For this reason, many English Premier League fans have expressed doubts as to whether this side can go to United and win.
Unlike previous meetings between the clubs, this clash represents a different style of play between the two teams. First, Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo opts for a more attacking approach. His team plays much more quickly than usual, and looks to take advantage of their short corners and quick transitions from defense to attack. This has been effective so far, but does not bode well for a Leicester side that lacks a cutting edge on the wing. Azangi should prove to be a valuable source of support for Leicester City, but to do that, United must find a way to shut Azangi out of the game.
A look at the recent history between these two sides will reveal just how potent Manchester United can be when they are up against a Chelsea side that seems to be fading into old age. Chelsea has not exactly been all that imposing when going up against top sides like Arsenal and Manchester City recently. In fact, United have even been able to dispatch two of Chelsea’s designated strikers, Robin van Persie and Frank Lampard, to no avail. On the other hand, Leicester City did a remarkable job shutting down Van Persie throughout the entire match. If only Manchester United had a competent right back that could combat Azangi!
Regardless of what line of attack either manager deploys, both sides will likely come into tonight’s match with plenty of confidence. Both manager speak of a strong desire to keep their current form intact, and rightfully so. This may be their only chance to go all the way this season, if not for now then certainly for the end of the season as well. Either way, I believe that either team can come away with a draw, although Leicester City has the better goal ratio. Tonight’s game is a good test for both zvets in what promises to be a very pivotal clash.