Midweek action returns to Old Trafford on Wednesday night as Manchester United and Chelsea resume their bitter rivalry in a thrilling Premier League matchup between two faltering titans of the English game.
Over the weekend, the Red Devils’ problems worsened when they lost 1-0 to Newcastle United, but Mauricio Pochettino’s team salvaged some blue dignity by defeating Brighton & Hove Albion 3-2.
The Red Devils’ fitness issues are insignificant in comparison to a devastated Newcastle squad, who were once again forced to use players from the club’s academy to fill the bench at St. James’ Park. Man United’s injury troubles this season have been widely reported.
Even yet, on this bitterly cold night in the Northeast, Eddie Howe’s devastated team was a cut above Erik ten Hag’s docile warriors. In the second half, they were duly rewarded when Anthony Gordon, full of energy, met a pass played into the six-yard box by Kieran Trippier and finished at the back post.
Before travelling to Tyneside, Ten Hag’s team had enjoyed a mini-revival in the top flight, winning five of their previous six matches and recording clean sheets in three straight. However, the under-fire Dutchman was not deluded into thinking his team was second best the entire evening.
Man United, who is also suffering from yet another Champions League defeat to Galatasaray, has been demoted to seventh.
Like people waiting a long time for two buses to arrive at once on public transportation, Enzo Fernandez had not scored in 30 Premier League games prior to Brighton’s visit. Brighton lost to the £106 million Argentine striker twice in a five-goal thriller.
It was far from a comfortable watch for the Stamford Bridge faithful, who saw captain Conor Gallagher sent off on the stroke of halftime while Facundo Buonanotte and Joao Pedro gave the Seagulls hope. Fernandez’s header and penalty either side of a Levi Colwill effort proved decisive against his former team.
Five minutes of extra time were added after Pedro’s header, but Pochettino’s crop held on for a crucial victory that the Argentine said showed quality and determination.
Manchester United possible starting lineup:
Onana; Dalot, Maguire, Lindelof, Shaw; McTominay, Mainoo; Antony, Fernandes, Garnacho; Hojlund
Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Sanchez; James, Disasi, Badiashile, Colwill; Fernandez, Caicedo; Sterling, Palmer, Mudryk; Jackson
Prediction: MUN 1:3 CHE