We take a look at the weekend’s marquee game in the Premier League, Manchester United v Chelsea, and tell you why Marcus Rashford may be staying in the headlines.
Manchester United v Chelsea
Saturday October 24
Kick-off 1730 BST
Live on Sky Sports Premier League and Main Event
Man Utd v Chelsea: Head-to-head
Heading into matchday six of the new Premier League season, United sit a lowly 15th with just six points from their four games thus far. Chelsea are eighth, although their tally of eight points from five matches is hardly a great deal better.
In short, both teams have made somewhat disappointing starts to the campaign – and defeat here would set them back even further.
Chelsea’s Old Trafford record will be a tad worrying to their fans. They haven’t won here since May 2013 and even that victory has an asterisk next to it with United having already won the league.
In seven visits since, Chelsea have scored just three goals. Four of those games have been drawn, although last season the Blues suffered a 4-0 hammering.
That was one of three defeats to United in 2019/20, although their most recent meeting – July’s FA Cup semi-final at Wembley – saw Chelsea emerge convincing 3-1 winners. It is their only win against United in the sides’ last seven matches.
Goals to flow?
In terms of goals, that head-to-head record shows six of the last eight meetings at Old Trafford have seen under 2.5 of them.
However, so far this season, just one of the teams’ combined nine league games has produced less than three goals – and that was a match which saw Chelsea forced to defend with 10 men for more than half of the game (v Liverpool).
In fact, the other eight have all seen over 3.5 goals with Chelsea netting at least three times in every game bar that defeat to the champions.
It’s been widely discussed how Frank Lampard is yet to sort out his side’s defence but United’s has been even worse so far this term, conceding 12 times in four matches, including six to Spurs in their previous home game. Only West Brom and Liverpool have shipped more.
The Red Devils have let in at least two in three of their four games so can hardly be relishing facing an attack such as Chelsea’s which has already delivered 13 goals – only leaders Everton and Spurs have more.
Player focus: Rashford v Werner; Ziyech v Fernandes
Marcus Rashford enjoys playing against Chelsea – he’s scored more goals against the Blues than any other side.
His tally is five (in 11 appearances) and he’s very much up and running this season too with four goals in seven games cross all competitions for his club.
With Anthony Martial suspended, he played as a centre forward last weekend at Newcastle, scoring once, but while the Frenchman remains banned for this fixture, new signing Edinson Cavani is now available so there’s a chance Rashford may be forced back into a wider position.
Chelsea’s new striker, Timo Werner, finally got his first Premier League goal – two, in fact – against Southampton last week, while Hakim Ziyech made his long-awaited debut as a substitute.
Ziyech churned out the assists during his time at Ajax, making at least 13 in his last four Eredivisie seasons. He made no more than 24 appearances in any of those campaigns.
In terms of creation on United’s side, Bruno Fernandes stands head and shoulders above the rest.
He’s already up to 12 ‘chances created’ on official stats – only Spurs’ Son Heung-min has more and he’s played one more game so the United midfielder is actually leading the league on the per-game averages.
He has only two assists so far but that looks sure to rise quickly if he keeps creating those chances, especially with Cavani now available.
Penalties at Old Trafford? Surely not
The Premier League is now up to 28 penalties in 48 games after ‘only’ three were awarded last week.
It’s notable that these sides’ top scorers so far are the men on spot-kick duty – Bruno Fernandes and Jorginho both have three goals.
Both men have also missed penalties. Jorginho recovered from his miss against Liverpool by scoring two against Crystal Palace.
Fernandes reacted well, sort of, to his miss against Newcastle. He scored from the spot on Tuesday against PSG – but only after his initial effort was saved and a retake ordered. That miss isn’t included in the stats which show the Portuguese has scored 11 of the 12 he’s taken for United.
1 – Bruno Fernandes has missed his first penalty for Man Utd in what was his 11th taken from the spot since he joined the club in January 2020 (1 miss, 10 scored). Saved. pic.twitter.com/kdrh7p5No7
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 17, 2020
You probably won’t be surprised to know that United have been awarded more penalties in the Premier League since the start of last season (17) than any other side.
Referee Martin Atkinson has awarded just one spot kick in his four games so far this season but it was one of the controversial handball ones – given against United’s Victor Lindelof during the defeat to Crystal Palace.
Last season he gave United a penalty in three of the four games he refereed.
Cards on the cards
This contest has regularly produced plenty of cards with at least four shown in the last eight league meetings.
There have been seven yellows produced in three of the last four.
Referee Atkinson is one of the more lenient officials in terms of fouls and cards but even he has kept busy in this fixture with card figures of 5-4-6-2-5(and 1 red)-6 in this fixture over the years.
In terms of individuals, Nemanja Matic has been carded three times in eight appearances against his former club, although he was one of the players who felt the axe following the recent 6-1 defeat by Spurs so he may not start.
Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante has three cards in 11 games against United in a Chelsea shirt, including two in the last three visits to Old Trafford.
Finally, defender Andreas Christensen has been carded in three of his last five matches for club and country.
Odds correct at the time of publication. 18+ Please Gamble Responsibly. Visit www.begambleaware.org