Manchester United Preview: Predicting the Starting Lineup vs Chelsea

Rikki SollisAnalyst IIFebruary 4, 2012

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 31:  Dimitar Berbatov of Manchester United celebrates his goal with team mates during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Stoke City at Old Trafford on January 31, 2012 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Manchester United travel to Stamford Bridge this weekend to face Chelsea. When these two met at Old Trafford earlier in the season, United came away as 3-1 victors, thanks to goals from Chris Smalling, Nani and Wayne Rooney.

Having drawn level on points with rivals Man City earlier in the week, United will be looking to take a big scalp at Stamford Bridge to keep themselves on par with the citizens.

Chelsea will be missing a few key faces on Sunday, with Ashley Cole (suspended), John Terry (knee), Frank Lampard (calf), Ramires (knee) and Didier Drogba (international duty) shelved, so United will have several areas which they can exploit.

Let's take a look at the starting lineup that I think Sir Alex Ferguson will go with.


GK: David de Gea

With Anders Lindegaard out for the next month or so, David de Gea has a chance to step it up and prove the doubters wrong. It's unlikely that Ferguson would put Amos out in a game as high profile as this, so expect him to trust DDG with the role.

De Gea will really need to put on a clinic in this match. He's lost a fair few fans in the past couple of weeks and he needs to get them back on board.


RB: Rafael

Having just recently gotten back from injury, Rafael is likely to start against Chelsea. Being the  only natural right-back in the side at the moment, his place is pretty much assured. I don't think Ferguson will be risking new signing Frederic Veseli just yet.

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 18:  Chris Smalling of Manchester United and Shaun Wright-Phillips of QPR compete for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Queens Park Rangers and Manchester United at Loftus Road on December 18, 2011 in Lon
Scott Heavey/Getty Images


CB: Chris Smalling

With Phil Jones and Nemanja Vidic still out, Smalling should start ahead of Jonny Evans. Smalling scored against Chelsea earlier in the season with a header from a a free-kick. His attacking threat at set pieces will undoubtedly cause issues for the likes of David Luiz and Gary Cahill, who will both likely start in Terry's absence.


CB: Rio Ferdinand

After missing the last game against Stoke, Rio Ferdinand will most probably make his return. His job for the afternoon will be to ensure Fernando Torres' goal drought continues.


LB: Patrice Evra

Patrice Evra rounds off a rather strong looking back line—Fabio and Zeki Fryers are very unlikely to take the Frenchman's place at this moment in time. Evra will be looking to make amends for his mistake at Anfield last week with a solid performance against the Blues. Evra will be handed the task of keeping Daniel Sturridge quiet. 


RM: Antonio Valencia

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 31:  Wilson Palacios of Stoke City battles with Antonio Valencia of Manchester United during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Stoke City at Old Trafford on January 31, 2012 in Manchester, Englan
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Virtually undroppable at this point in time. with Ashley Cole suspended, Valencia can potentially run amok in the Chelsea defence, and his creativity will undoubtedly put the stand-in left-back to the test. With nine assists and two goals in 11 starts, the Ecuadorian will be one to have your eye on.


CM: Michael Carrick

The new and improved attack-minded Michael Carrick will almost definitely be lining up for United on Sunday. Since the return of Paul Scholes, Carrick has looked more comfortable in pushing up the field to contribute towards attacking movements. Having scored twice in his last 10 games, Carrick seems to be trying his luck from outside the box a lot more often than he used to.


CM: Paul Scholes

Despite Tom Cleverley returning from injury, Sir Alex has said that he is very unlikely to start him on Sunday. Scholes has looked impressive in his last couple of appearances for United, and as previously mentioned has brought out another side to Michael Carrick. Scholes managed a full 90 minutes against Stoke, however the potential tempo of this game would probably limit him to 60-70 minutes.


LM: Ryan Giggs

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - JANUARY 04:  Man United forward Ryan Giggs in action during the Barclays Premier league game between Newcastle United and Manchester United at St James' Park on January 4, 2012 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.  (Photo by Stu
Stu Forster/Getty Images

Nani and Ashley Young have both reportedly recovered from their injuries, but I think the fully fit Ryan Giggs will start. Young and Nani will no doubt be shuffled back into the team over the next couple weeks, however SAF is unlikely to risk semi-fit players in a clash like this. 


FW: Wayne Rooney

Fergie's talisman will be back from injury for this weekend's fixture, and he will undoubtedly be the first name on the team sheet.


ST: Danny Welbeck

Even thought both Dimitar Berbatov and Javier Hernandez grabbed themselves goals from the spot on Tuesday, I expect Welbeck to reclaim his spot in the first eleven. The striker has three goals in his last four appearances, and will be happy to be partnering Rooney again.


Substitutes: Ben Amos, Fabio, Jonny Evans, Paul Pogba, Nani, Javier Hernandez, Dimitar Berbatov.


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