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Manchester United to take on Chelsea at Old Trafford in the standout fixture of match week-33 in the Premier League, in pursue of a good standing to end this season’s race.
After knocking the Red Devils out of the FA Cup, the Blues has 12 matches unbeaten record against the Red Devils and United Boss Jose Mourinho will hopefully want to gain his respect back at Old Trafford.
Nine home draws in 2016-17, including five out of six since the turn of the year, has left United four points a drift of rivals Manchester City and very much now playing catch-up in the race for fourth place.
Mourinho, whose side boasts the longest unbeaten run of any side in Europe’s major five leagues, also has to contend with a tricky fixture list that sees his men navigate away games with Man City, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur in the remaining weeks.
Despite Tottenham’s best efforts in recent weeks, putting together an impressive run of 13 wins in their last 16 outings, Chelsea boss Conte can now almost touch a fourth domestic title success in four attempts.
That is not to say that the West London outfit are flying, though, because they have kept out the opposition just once in their last 11 league matches and could well concede for a 10th game in a row this weekend – only twice before have they endured a longer such run without shutting out their opponents in the Prem era, both coming in 1996.
It is in stark contrast to earlier in the season when first reverting to their current 3-4-3 formation, implemented to make them more solid at the back and also getting the best out of star attacker Eden Hazard, as they conceded just four goals during an incredible 13-match-winning streak.
Unbeatable they are certainly not, but Chelsea are at the top of the division for a reason and know that three more points at the Theatre of Dreams on Sunday and the first letter of their name can surely be carved into the top-flight crown.
Ibrahimovic heads into this weekend’s match on the back of a strong run of form, playing a part in 18 goals in his last 17 Premier League appearances, but he has failed to net in all five meetings with Conte-managed sides in the past.
It is at the other end of the field where United have a big question mark, however, with David de Gea picking up a hip injury last week to keep him out of the squad to face Sunderland and only on the bench against Anderlecht on Thursday.
It is likely to be between Pedro and Willian for a starting role on the right of the three-man attack line, while Cesc Fabregas is battling with Nemanja Matic for a deep defensive role alongside N’Golo Kante.
Kante is known more for his defensive attributes than attacking quality, but his two goals in two appearances against the Red Devils this term – his only goals since joining last summer – mark him out as one to watch.
Possible Manchester United starting lineup:
De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Rojo, Blind; Fellaini, Herrera; Lingard, Pogba, Rashford; Ibrahimovic
Possible Chelsea starting lineup:
Courtois; Azpilicueta, Luiz, Cahill; Moses, Matic, Kante, Alonso; Willian, Costa, Hazard
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