The twists and turns of the race for the English Premier League top four continues, as Chelsea travel to face Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Maurizio Sarri’s side have seen the fortunes turn in their favour due to the other teams around them dropping valuable points, but that does not mean that The Blues won’t have both eyes open in Manchester.
The reverse fixture in October saw the two teams battle for a 2-2 draw and previous games between the them do not bode well for Chelsea. The Blues have won 24 and lost 33 in all competitions at Old Trafford over the years.
Ahead of the all-important fixture, we have taken player ratings from both sides provided by WhoScored.com and have assembled our very own team.
Goalkeeper: Kepa Arrizabalaga (Chelsea) 6.60
Kepa Arrizabalaga’s first season in a Blue shirt has been full of ups and downs, but to say that he has worn the shirt well is an understatement.
The Spaniard has 13 clean sheets in 33 league games. He is third in the clean sheets table behind Manchester City’s Ederson with 16, and Liverpool’s Alisson with 18.
Right-back: Luke Shaw (Manchester United) 6.94
With United’s rollercoaster form throughout the season, there have been only a few constants in terms of consistency and that is Luke Shaw.
Shaw has been pivotal in steadying a rocky United defence. He has averaged 2.7 clearances per game, which is more than tomorrow’s opponent Marcos Alonso who has averaged 2.6.
Centre-back: Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea) 6.98
Captain consistent Cesar Azpilicueta will be looking to rally his players in what could be arguably the most important game of the season. It’s make or break time for The Blues, and Azpilicueta will be at the forefront of it.
To reassure the back-four, Azpilicueta has made an average of 2.8 successful tackles per game, whereas Ashley Young has averaged 1.7
Centre-back: David Luiz (Chelsea) 7.07
David Luiz know all about the big games in a Blue shirt and this one is right up there with one of the biggest. Luiz will be helped by the sudden recovery of his defensive partner Antonio Rudiger, who may be start alongside him.
A master in playing out from the back, Luiz has accumulated a total of 2471 passes in the league, which is nearly three times more than Chris Smalling who has made 902.
Left-back: Marcos Alonso (Chelsea) 7.13
A vital clash against top-four contenders, and Marcos Alonso’s position in the first team has come under scrutiny recently. Whether Sarri opts for the experience of Alonso or the emerging talent of Emerson is anybody’s guess.
United’s Shaw has made 21 interceptions in total, unlike Alonso who has made more with 32 and has played one game more.
Centre-midfielder: N’Golo Kante (Chelsea) 6.96
A lot has been said this season regarding N’Golo Kante’s more advanced role under Sarri, but there is no doubt that the Frenchman has adapted brilliantly to the move.
The French engine has passed the ball 1983 times in the league this season, which is more than his former teammate Nemanja Matic who has made 1712 passes.
Centre-midfielder: Ander Herrera (Manchester United) 7.01
Links to a move away from United have grown as of late and The Blues would be glad to see the back of Ander Herrera, as he has caused no end of problems whenever the two sides have met.
Despite Kante being renowned for his ability to win the ball, he has made an average of 1.2 interceptions per game, less than Herrera who has averaged 1.9.
Centre-midfielder: Paul Pogba (Manchester United) 7.36
A dip in form has left The Blues smelling blood leading up to the Old Trafford clash, but they will still have to be wary of the presence of United’s talisman Paul Pogba.
To show the extent of Pogba’s effectiveness, he has averaged 1.6 key passes per game in the United midfield, which is almost double of Chelsea’s creative midfielder Mateo Kovacic, who has only averaged 0.9.
Right-winger: Pedro (Chelsea) 6.94
Due to the season-ending injury picked up by Callum Hudson-Odoi, Pedro might find himself more involved as the race for a top-four spot reaches its climax.
The Spaniard’s direct approach could prove to be important. He has attempted an average of 2.0 dribbles per game, which is more than Jesse Lingard who has attempted 1.1 per game.
Striker: Eden Hazard (Chelsea) 7.81
Superstar Eden Hazard may only have a few more games in a Chelsea shirt. If that is the case, The Blues faithful will be hoping to see the Belgian wizard in his usual sparkling form before time runs out.
Hazard is The Blues’ top goal scorer in the league this season with 16 goals. This is more than Olivier Giroud, Gonzalo Higuain and former Blue Alvaro Morata combined with 11.
Left-winger: Willian (Chelsea) 7.10
Another player that could benefit from Hudson-Odoi’s injury is Willian. Starting appearances have become sparse due to the emergence of the English wonderkid, but the Brazilian may become more important than ever with three league games left.
Willian has 74 key passes to his name in the league this season, which is staggering considering Anthony Martial has made 34 key passes.
By Darion Westwood