Manchester United vs Chelsea: Three key battles that could decide Frank Lampard’s first Premier League match in charge


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The Premier League is back and the weekend’s biggest fixture has been saved until last.

Manchester United host Chelsea on Sunday, as Frank Lampard takes charge of his first top-flight match since taking over from Maurizio Sarri.

United host Chelsea on Sunday

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United host Chelsea on Sunday

Saturday is GameDay on talkSPORT and we’ll be bringing you live football all season, beginning at the London Stadium, as West Ham host champions Manchester City.

It will be the first time Chelsea and United have faced each other on the opening day since 2004, that game was Jose Mourinho’s first competitive match as Blues boss and a goal from Eidur Gudjohnsen was enough to earn all three points at Stamford Bridge.

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Unable to bolster their squad this summer due to a transfer ban, Chelsea could not have asked for a stiffer test of their credentials, having not won at Old Trafford since May 2013.

In fact, United are unbeaten in their last six home matches against Chelsea since then, winning two and drawing four and their most recent meeting in May ended 1-1.

talkSPORT.com takes a look at three key clashes that will have a impact on the final score.

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Ross Barkley vs Scott McTominay

Injury free and with a solid pre-season under his belt, this could be Barkley’s time to shine.

Similar words were said prior to the 2018/19 campaign and, despite his talent, he went on to have a mediocre campaign, stifled by the restrictions of Sarri’s demands.

However, under Lampard and his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation, Barkley has looked far more confident and comfortable operating in the No.10 role and netted in four consecutive matches.

Ross Barkley has had a strong pre season

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Ross Barkley has had a strong pre season

While there is competition from Mason Mount to be the playmaker, the ex-Everton man has done his chances no harm at all and given his current form, could have a huge role to play on Sunday.

With Ander Herrera gone, Nemanja Matic not the force he once was and Fred still adjusting, McTominay will operate in the engine room, after a promising season.

Tall, athletic and good on the ball, the Scot matured under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his performance against Barcelona last season showed he is more than capable of rising to a big occasion.


Marcus Rashford vs Andreas Christensen

The Danish international has all the attributes to be one of the best young defenders in the world and Chelsea fans will be eager for him to return to the form he showed in the early part of 2017/18.

His tactical awareness is excellent and while he is not the most physically dominant centre-back, he reads the game well and therefore can make up ground before the attacker.

Rashford is likely to lead the United attack

Getty Images – Getty

Rashford is likely to lead the United attack

Confidence seems to be his main issue and he has not looked the same player since an error against Barcelona in a Champions League tie last year which led to Lionel Messi netting an equaliser and he was used sparingly under Sarri last season which was unlikely to have helped.

With David Luiz now at Arsenal, Antonio Rudiger still on the sidelines, Christensen will have more responsibility, which could be the making of him.

Rashford is likely to lead the line following Romelu Lukaku’s switch to Inter Milan and the England striker has looked sharp in pre-season, playing like he has a point to prove.

Fresh from signing a new deal with the club, worth a reported £300,000-a-week, Rashford scored 13 times in 47 appearances last season, but his form tailed off in the second half of the season.


Tammy Abraham vs Harry Maguire

Lampard could very well go with Olivier Giroud for a fixture of this magnitude, but we believe Abraham will be handed a chance from the off.

Having impressed last season on loan at Aston Villa in the Championship, Abraham must take that form and step up considerably for Chelsea, who are short of striking options due to their transfer ban.

Not the cleanest finisher, Abraham offers more pace and mobility than either Giroud or Michy Batshuayi and having been given the No.9 shirt, it is important he is allowed to build confidence and gain the trust of management and his team-mates.

Abraham must impress for Chelsea

Getty – Contributor

Abraham must impress for Chelsea

Maguire is likely to go toe-to-toe with Abraham and the world’s most expensive defender could be the dominant force at the back they have lacked since Nemanja Vidic left in 2014.

Comfortable on the ball and excellent in the air, Maguire won more duels and made more clearances than any of the other United defenders.

Compared to Europe’s best, the England man made more interceptions (148) than the likes of Sergio Ramos and Aymeric Laporte.

The £80m price tag is massive, but many are backing Maguire to deliver under pressure.


Saturday is GameDay on talkSPORT and talkSPORT 2 as we become your go to destination for all the Premier League action. We’ll bring you LIVE commentary of Premier League games across all three time slots on Saturday – 12.30pm, 3pm and 5.30pm – delivering award-winning coverage to more GameDay listeners than ever.


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