Preview: Chelsea v Manchester United

Are Johor Darul Ta’zim capable of pulling off the impossible at Gyeongnam FC?

Jose Mourinho will return to Stamford Bridge on Sunday at the helm of Manchester United to take on former employees Chelsea.

Premier League
23 October 2016
Match Day 9
Kick-off: 23H00 HKT
Venue: Stamford Bridge

Head-to-head summary:

Chelsea 156 48 45 63
Manchester United 156 63 45 48

Previous encounter:

Chelsea 1-1 Manchester United 07/02/16 (Premier League)

Chelsea goalscorer: D. Costa (90+1′)
Manchester United goalscorer: J. Lingard (61′)

Players to watch:

@willianborges88 in training today. ? #CFC #Chelsea

A photo posted by Chelsea FC – Official (@chelseafc) on Oct 21, 2016 at 9:01am PDT

Chelsea have really benefitted from a return to form by Diego Costa, who is the league’s top scorer with seven to his name already, and the Spain international is always more tightly-wound than usual for big matches. Belgian wing wizard Eden Hazard also has his mojo back.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be looking forward to facing the Blues again, having come up against them a few times recently in a series of Champions League clashes with PSG. Marcus Rashford still seems to have the scoring touch, while Ander Herrera has been impressing in midfield.

Team form and manager quotes:

Repost @D_DeGeaOfficial ・・・ Good game yesterday! Totally focused on Sunday! C'mon @manchesterunited ??? #mufc #premierleague

A photo posted by Manchester United (@manchesterunited) on Oct 21, 2016 at 8:29am PDT

For the first time in recent memory, the Blues had no European commitments at this stage of the season, but enter the match fresh off their 3-0 win over reigning champions Leicester City. Prior to that they defeated Hull City 2-0, and seem to have recovered from earlier defeats to Arsenal and Liverpool.

This is the second big match in a row for United, who recently held old foes Liverpool to a 0-0 draw at Anfield. Their recently results have included the good, the bad, and the forgettable, which are a defeat to Watford, a 4-1 triumph over Leicester, and a 1-1 draw with Stoke respectively.

Jose Mourinho’s return to west London to face his former club adds a bit of extra spice to the fixture, but the Portuguese tactician was pragmatic about his inevitable reunion.

“I knew that working in England, staying in the Premier League, I would, sooner or later, have to play against Chelsea and I would have to go to Stamford Bridge,” Mourinho said. “The computer has decided that I have to go now, so we go.”

“He was an important manager for Chelsea,” Antonio Conte said of his predecessor at the Bridge. “I have great respect for him. He’s a great manager. He won a lot in his career and he deserves the maximum respect.

“He deserves a good reception. He wrote, with the players and the club and the staff, part of the story of this club. Then, after the whistle, he becomes like the other Manchester United players – an enemy, in the sporting aspect.”

Team news:

@thibautcourtois today ⚽️? #CfC #Chelsea

A photo posted by Chelsea FC – Official (@chelseafc) on Oct 21, 2016 at 9:17am PDT

In team news, Conte is still awaiting the return of Spanish passmaster Cesc Fabregas (thigh) and Serbian defender Branislav Ivanovic (muscular injury). Marco van Ginkel (knee) and Kurt Zouma (anterior cruciate ligament) are also sidelined.

For Mourinho, defender Chris Smalling (muscular injury) and Morgan Schneiderlin (knock) will face late fitness tests, but James Wilson (anterior cruciate ligament) and Phil Jones (lateral collateral ligament) remain long-term absentees.