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League Cup preview: Chelsea vs Manchester United

Chelsea welcome Manchester United to Stamford Bridge in the fourth round of the League Cup. The Blues suffered an embarrassing 4-0 defeat to the Red Devils in their opening Premier League game of the campaign but they have since been on the up and they are currently occupying the fourth position in the league standings.

In comparison, United have registered just two more league victories since the drubbing of the west London outfit and they are presently seven points adrift of Frank Lampard’s side. Their recent 3-1 triumph over Norwich City saw them score more than once in a game for the first time since the curtain-raiser.

Form:

Lampard’s team have improved on a game-by-game basis this season and the weekend’s 4-2 victory over Burnley meant that they have registered seven victories on the bounce. United have recently ended a four-match winless run with back-to-back triumphs. Their best performance since the season opener came against Norwich this evening where Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford linked up impressively in the attack.

Players to watch out for:

Callum Hudson-Odoi – Chelsea: Christian Pulisic was preferred ahead of Hudson-Odoi in the starting lineup for the Burnley clash and he took full advantage by bagging his maiden professional hat-trick. This will no doubt cement his starting spot for the forthcoming league games but the same may not be the case for the League Cup, where Lampard will consider rotating his options. Hudson-Odoi did have a relatively average game against Ajax in the Champions League on Wednesday but other than that, he has not done anything wrong. He has contributed one goal and four assists from just seven games this term and his tussle with United right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka should remain an interesting watch. Hudson-Odoi has impressed with his direct running, dribbling and crossing abilities, but he has yet to find his shooting range at the club level this season.

Anthony Martial – Manchester United: Martial returned to the United fray after his thigh injury earlier in the week and he has started the past two games across all competitions. The Frenchman has made an instant contribution with goals in both of those matches and he should have bagged another, had he not squandered his penalty against Norwich. Still, there are plenty of positives with his good link-up play and coordination with Rashford and the duo could pose question marks for the Blues backline similarly to the curtain-raiser. For all the praise Chelsea have received, there continues to remain a point of vulnerability at the back and they have kept just three clean sheets from 15 matches across all competitions. Meanwhile, Martial has recently fared impressively against the Blues and he has bagged three goals and an assist in the past three meetings.

Prediction:

With the home advantage, the Blues will undoubtedly play on the front foot but they need to guard against the counter-attack from the Red Devils, which led to their undoing at Old Trafford earlier this season. We are fancying the Blues to progress to the fifth round but they won’t have a straightforward game, considering United generally turn up against the elite Premier League teams.

Chelsea 2-1 Manchester United

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