Chelsea host Manchester United today at Stamford Bridge as they look to extend their unbeaten run under Thomas Tuchel.
With a top-four challenge appearing difficult in the latter stages of Frank Lampard’s tenure, Chelsea have picked up 14 points from the last 18 available to rise into fifth position in the table since Tuchel was appointed on January 26th.
Tuchel has vastly improved Chelsea defensively with Takumi Minamino the only outfield player to score against them in eight games.
The Blues will enter this weekend’s contest off the back of a brilliant result and performance having beaten Atlético Madrid 1-0 in the first leg of their last-16 Champions League tie on Tuesday night, which has left them in a strong position to reach the quarter-finals of the competition. The victory was Chelsea’s first away win in the knockout stages of Europe’s elite club competition since 2012.
In the reverse fixture back in October at Old Trafford it ended in a 0-0 draw as former manager Frank Lampard changed to a three at the back in a game of very little chances. Edouard Mendy made an excellent last minute save to deny Marcus Rashford in the games only real chance of note.
Thomas Tuchel confirmed on Chelsea TV the only absentee for Sunday’s clash is defender Thiago Silva, otherwise he has a fully fit squad at his disposal.
‘Thiago cannot play on Sunday, he’s still not ready to return just yet’
The head coach said with a view to Silva returning to full training next week. The Brazil defender has not featured for the Blues since the 1-0 win at Tottenham on February 4 due to a thigh injury.
Olivier Giroud is expected to start after scoring the winner on Tuesday in Bucharest against Atlético Madrid and with a huge set of fixtures on the horizon it wouldn’t be a surprise if Tuchel utilised his squad and rotated a couple of players this weekend.
Kai Havertz also returned in midweek coming off the bench in the 87th minute and Tuchel was quoted saying that ‘Since I have arrived the only thing that kept Kai Havertz from making a big impact is his injury, nothing else.’
Tuchel on Giroud – (chelseafc.com)
‘He deserves to start all the time!’ acknowledged the boss.’
‘He trains very well, he is a leader in the group, a big personality. Even when he has not started he deserves to start. I will not tell you now if we will let him play from the first minute!’
‘He is as fit as ever and you can rely on his physical impact in the game. It’s hard to play against him. He is used to playing a high rhythm, used to playing in the Premier League, and this helps him stay in this high level.’
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is hoping Edinson Cavani can return for Sunday’s trip to West London. Cavani has missed the past three matches with a muscle complaint while Scott McTominay has been absent since coming off 60 minutes into last week’s Europa League last-32 first-leg win against Real Sociedad and Solskjaer confirmed he (McTominay) will miss the trip.
Donny van de Beek is now available after missing the last two matches with a muscle injury.
Daniel James will be assessed after limping off in Thursday’s second leg and Solskjaer has confirmed Juan Mata will be out for a couple of weeks joining club record signing Paul Pogba on the side-lines.
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