February 5th , 2023



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A year ago

Manchester United head into their clash with Chelsea on Sunday in disarray, having sacked manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer following their 4-1 thrashing at the hands of Watford last time out in the Premier League.

Caretaker (for the caretaker) boss Michael Carrick helped United earn a morale-boosting victory in the Champions League on Tuesday night, but the club's problems are still piled high.

The hunt for Solskjaer's temporary replacement looks to have been closed with the signing of Ralf Rangnick, but a permanent solution must still be found. Meanwhile, on the pitch several key players are badly out of form, talisman Bruno Fernandes has been dropped, and they are in desperate need of positive league results after suffering five defeats in their last seven games, including harrowing defeats by Liverpool and Manchester City.

Chelsea on the other hand have made a stunning start to the season and are three points clear at the top of the Premier League. However, they will be missing some important players when they welcome the Red Devils in a clash of the titans at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Sportsmail has picked a combined XI of players from both Chelsea and Manchester United - with the caveat that only players who are fit or available to play can be selected, so the likes of the injured Ben Chilwell, N'Golo Kante and Raphael Varane won't be considered(Formation: 4-3-3)


Edouard Mendy (Chelsea)

If there is any Manchester United player who deserves to be included in the team on recent performances, then it is surely David de Gea.

That might seem hard to believe when the Red Devils have been conceding goals for fun, but without their Spanish stopper this season could look a whole lot worse.

De Gea made a number of key saves again on Tuesday night, before United put Villarreal to the sword with goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho.

However, it would be wrong not to include Edouard Mendy, who has been probably the world's best keeper in 2021.

The Blues have conceded just four league goals this season and the Senegal international has played a big part in that.

He has made a number of stunning saves and on current form looks almost unbeatable in the Chelsea goal.


Reece James (Chelsea)

What more can be said about Reece James's recent incredible form for Chelsea.

The 21-year-old has quickly gained a reputation as a tough, reliable defender since he first broke into the starting line-up.

What has been unexpected though is his output at the other end of the pitch with only Mo Salah contributing to more goals so far this season.

James is Chelsea's top goalscorer with five in 14 games and he has also provided five assists. His goal against Juventus midweek was taken like he was an accomplished striker.

There seems to be no weaknesses to his game at the moment, while United's right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka has looked out-of-sorts so far this season.


Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea)

Under former Chelsea boss Frank Lampard, Antonio Rudiger looked as if his career at the club was over and struggled to make the bench at the start of last season.

However, since Tuchel's appointment, Rudiger has been a pivotal member of Chelsea's defence and remained an ever-present since the start of the year.

He has produced some confident and decisive displays so far this season and has arguably been the best performing centre-back in the league.

It seems incredible to think he could leave the club as a free agent at the end of the season with his contract in its final year.

Thiago Silva (Chelsea)

At 37 years old you would expect to have seen some form of regression from Thiago Silva at this stage of his career.

However, he has shown no signs of slowing down and alongside Rudiger has formed a rock-solid partnership as part of a back three under Thomas Tuchel.Whether it's Andreas Christensen, Trevoh Chalobah or Cesar Azpilicueta next to Rudiger and Silva, you always fancy Chelsea's chances.

In the same time that United have conceded 17 goals in their last seven league games, Chelsea have let in just three.

On Sunday, it will be tough for the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes to break down Chelsea's brick wall of a defence.


Luke Shaw (Manchester United)

Last season any combined XI featuring Manchester United would have seen Luke Shaw walk into the squad.

On current form though he is very lucky to be part of this team after some woeful performances against the likes of Liverpool, Manchester City and Watford.

His form will be something Michael Carrick and the incoming interim manager will be desperately looking to sort out.

The left-back should be in contention to start after missing United's defeat to Villarreal after a concussion he suffered against Watford.

Ben Chilwell would have made this team with ease if not for the injury he sustained against Juventus.

Shaw has instead been picked over Marcos Alonso, who has either not been included in the squad or left on the bench in Chelsea's last six Premier League games


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