Manchester United entertain Chelsea at Old Trafford in the first gameweek of the new Premier League season. Both sides did not deliver their best showing during the course of the previous campaign, but the Blues managed to put some shine on their season by making the top four ahead of the Red Devils as well as winning the Europa League title.
Since then, the Blues have changed their manager with Frank Lampard succeeding Maurizio Sarri at the helm and the league opener will revive a familiar rivalry with United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer from their playing days at their respective clubs. Ahead of Sunday’s much-anticipated league clash, we look at two players, who may be influential towards the final result on the day.
The England international’s move to the Red Devils was talked up for most of the summer and the club eventually managed to land his signature from Leicester City on a world-record defender fee this month. The 26-year-old centre-back has been renowned for his strong concentration and ball-playing abilities, but he could have a testing debut on his hands. While Olivier Giroud or Tammy Abraham may present him with a possible physical challenge, the former Hull City man will also have to guard against the long-ball tactic utilised by Chelsea on the counter-attack. Maguire has not played a single minute for United to date, but Solskjaer is likely to pair him alongside Victor Lindelof at the heart of the defence, considering the uncertainty in the performances of Phil Jones and Chris Smalling.
The former Borussia Dortmund man participated in four pre-season games for the Blues and his performances were a mixed bag. The 20-year-old managed to contribute two goals against Red Bull Salzburg in an excellent display of counter-attacking football but barring that game, he struggled to find the cutting edge in the final third with plenty of misses and scuffed attempts on goal. The attacker will have the pressure to deliver this season with many regarding him as the direct replacement for Eden Hazard and Sunday’s game offers him with the chance to become an instant Blues favourite by putting up a game-defining display. The forward’s style of play includes quick link-up play and tendency to dribble towards the opposition goal and it remains to be seen whether he can become the chief creator for the visitors from a wider attacking position.