Manchester United predicted XI against Chelsea: Can Mourinho’s men defeat the Portuguese’s former club?

Sunday’s contest will be Mourinho's first Premier League game as the visiting boss at Stamford Bridge.

Manchester United predicted XI against Chelsea: Can Mourinho’s men defeat the Portuguese’s former club?
Mourinho will have some selection headaches after Thursday's emphatic win over Fenerbahce. (Photo: James Baylis/ AMA)

Manchester United return to Premier League action on Sunday as they prepare to face Chelsea.

The Red Devils go into the contest in decent form, having picked up a respectable point away to Liverpool on Monday night before they eased past Fenerbahce in the Europa League a few days later.

Strong United side

With this game being against his former employers, United manager Jose Mourinho will surely be keen to get a victory against the Blues.

Therefore, the Portuguese is likely to deploy his strongest side, despite another big fixture awaiting the Red Devils in midweek – an EFL Cup tie against Manchester City at Old Trafford.

United’s strongest side can only mean one man in goal, and that’s David de Gea. The Spaniard has been in fine form this season, as has Antonio Valencia, who will no doubt start again at right-back after he was rested for the recent Europa League win against Fenerbahce.

Daley Blind was also uninvolved in midweek and is likely to start at left-back after his good recent form in that role.

Eric Bailly has started every league match this season and the Ivorian is sure to do so again this weekend, with Chris Smalling set to partner him in defence providing he is fit.

Daley Blind has played well at left-back in Luke Shaw's absence | Photo: Clive Brunskill/ Getty Images
Daley Blind has played well at left-back in Luke Shaw's absence | Photo: Clive Brunskill/ Getty Images

Attacking or defensive set-up?

The defence almost picks itself for Mourinho, but the Portuguese will have a few more selection issues in midfield.

Ander Herrera’s fantastic recent outings in a more defensive midfield role will earn him a recall to the XI, and Paul Pogba will also appear in the engine room alongside him.

Mourinho’s other midfield selection will depend on his tactical set-up, though. Marouane Fellaini played as a second defensive man in Monday’s draw against Liverpool, and to great effect. The United boss is probably more likely to reintroduce the Belgian to the starting line-up than risk sticking with the more attacking option of Juan Mata against a decent Chelsea side.

Regardless of the central set-up, Mourinho will want defensively sound wingers in his line-up, and Jesse Lingard’s early departure from Thursday’s win against Fenerbahce suggests he will be involved again on Sunday. The recent England debutant should start on the right, replacing Ashley Young from the previous league game in order to provide a better attacking threat.

Marcus Rashford and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were rested for the midweek win against the Turkish side and should, therefore, be fresh to start on the left flank and as the central striker respectively.

Predicted XI: De Gea; Valencia, Smalling, Bailly, Blind; Fellaini, Herrera; Lingard, Pogba, Rashford; Ibrahimovic.