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Welcome!

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of Manchester United vs Chelsea in the Premier League!

We’ll bring you all the build-up and live action from what promises to be a cracker at Old Trafford.

All eyes will be on United after their string of poor results and recent media reports of player unrest under manager Eric ten Hag.

The club and the Dutchman have come out fighting in response to the allegations, but there will be a keen interest in the performance on a busy night of Premier League football.

Kick-off is at 20:15 GMT and you won’t miss a crucial kick.

A busy night in the Premier League

Old Trafford grabs all the attention in matchweek 15 but it’s a busy night elsewhere in England with plenty up for grabs at both ends of the table.

Manchester City’s trip to Aston Villa is the other big attraction on the list of games. Can the Villans upset Pep’s boys and tighten things further at the top?

‘We will get where we want to be’

Manchester United and manager Eric ten Hag have been clear in their response to allegations that as many as half of the United players have lost faith in the manager.

“Of course, in every team there are always players who are not playing or playing less who are less happy,” ten Hag said in advance of the Chelsea match.

“In some circumstances you need that, they have to wait for their chance. But no, there are no issues.”

“I know we will get where we want to be. Because? See my record. Everywhere where I was, every season, I got my targets.

“If we stick together, stick to the plan and the strategy, we will get where we want to be.”

As it stands

Arsenal’s late winner at Luton Town sees them maintain a safe distance from the rest at the top of the league table.

Despite the big names involved in tonight’s clash at Old Trafford, both teams sit outside the top six.

A win for United would move them level on points with Tottenham Hotspur, who play West Ham on Thursday.

A bright spot for United

For all the talk of unrest, one player has reversed his fortunes of late. Harry Maguire has gone from sitting out in the cold to becoming a key player under ten Hag this season.

Early team news

Mason Mount is set to miss out against his former club as the Manchester United midfielder battles a calf problem.

Manager Eric ten Hag is still without the services of Casemiro Lisandro Martinez, Christian Eriksen, Tyrell Malacia, Jonny Evans and Amad Diallo.

Chelsea have Reece James and Marc Cucurella available again following suspension, but Conor Gallagher misses out, having picked up a one-game ban.

The Blues are also set to be without Noni Madueke and Lesley Ugochukwu, leaving Mauricio Pochettino without 10 players for the game.

Stat attack – Manchester United

So often a fortress, Old Trafford has seen United lose three of the last five Premier League fixtures at home.

The Red Devils have also been slow starts at home – scoring in the first half in only one of the seven they’ve played in front of their own fans so far.

Another defeat in this match would mean the club have lost the most games in a calendar year since 1989. United lost 18 that year to heap pressure on their manager at the time, Sir Alex Ferguson.

The legendary United manager did lose 17 matches in 2001 – two years after winning the treble.

Stat attack – Chelsea

It’s not been the best year for either of these teams: Compared with United’s 17 defeats in 2023, Chelsea have lost 16 of their 37 in the league alone.

It’s the Blues worst top-flight return since 1993 when they lost 20 that year.

The road has been kind to Pochettino’s side of late, however, with three wins picked up in the last four away games.

That’s a marked improvement from the five draws and nine defeats on their travels before that run.

It’s usually entertaining when Chelsea are on the road – their last three away games in the league have ended in a 4-1 scoreline. Two of those have been victories.

Their last trip to Old Trafford ended in a 4-1 loss in May.

The goals are promised again tonight with Chelsea on a seven-match run in the league without a clean sheet, scoring 18 and conceding 16 in that time.

Poch ready for United

Both teams may be a long way off where they want to be right now, but Chelsea manager Pochettino says this remains a massive game and one they must embrace.

“The time is the time, we cannot change that. It’s always good to play at Old Trafford because it’s an amazing place,” he said.

“We are all at a similar level, different situations, I wouldn’t say it’s a good time to go there.

“We have to be ready to compete because it will be tough, they want to win and we want to keep our momentum and build and be higher up the table.

“It is important for us to be in a different position, we need to go there and win.”

The spotlight is on Rashford

Marcus Rashford has been in the spotlight for most of the recent analysis of Manchester United’s performances.

The England forward was picked out by many pundits for poor performances at Newcastle United, in particular for his lack of effort tracking back.

Going forward hasn’t been easy either – Rashford has only scored two goals in 18 games for United this season.

The local lad is also goalless in 10 appearances at Old Trafford.

Body language will be everything for United

Every moment and expression of everyone at Manchester United will be under scrutiny.

The result matters, of course, but, until that final whistle blows, everything will be looking for a clue as to the mood of the United players given recent speculation of unrest.

Chelsea on the move

The Blues are looking for back-to-back wins in the Premier League as they travel to Manchester United.

The last time they did that in the top flight, both wins were away from home: a 2-0 win against London neighbours Fulham, followed by a 4-1 triumph at Burnley.

The changes for both sides

Manchester United make four changes as manager Erik ten Hag looks to freshen up from the defeat at Newcastle United.

Victor Lindelof returns in defence alongside Harry Maguire, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka dropping to the bench. Diogo Dalot will play on the right and Luke Shaw on the left.

Sofyan Amrabat starts in midfield in place of Kobbie Mainoo, while there are two changes in attack with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial benched for Antony and Rasmus Hojlund.

Chelsea make two changes to the side that beat Brighton 3-2.

Cole Palmer replaces the suspended Conor Gallagher.

Marc Cucurella returns from suspension with Benoit Badiashile dropping to the bench alongside Reece James, who also returns from a ban.

Both teams will play 4-2-3-1.

Raheem looks to rectify a record while Poch is on a roll

Raheem Sterling has not scored in his 24 appearances against Manchester United.

The Chelsea forward has, however, scored or assisted in each of the club’s last three away games.

He last produced that level of return when registering a four-in-a-row in 2020.

Sterling’s manager, meantime, Pochettino, has claimed victory in four of his last seven league encounters with United.

He had been winless in his first six meetings with the club and has won only one of seven games at Old Trafford – but that was his last visit. A 3-0 nil in 2018.

Youth to the fore at Old Trafford

One of the major highlights for Manchester United this season has been the performances of Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo.

The latter has long been admired by ten Hag but has had to wait his chance due to injury. It’s back to the bench against Chelsea for Mainoo on this occasion.

Garnacho has long promised the kind of performances his side are now starting to see – including that bicycle kick against Everton.

Shearer says Rashford looks ‘unhappy’

Former Newcastle and England striker Alan Shearer says Rashford looked out of sorts in the defeat at St James’ Park on Saturday.

“He looks like a really unhappy player. I’m not surprised he’s been left out,” Shearer told Amazon Prime.

“I looked at the manager on Saturday and he was so annoyed at what Rashford gave – and didn’t give.

“The fans will shout his name here, he’s a local lad and they might just need him tonight.”

Head-to-head record

Chelsea haven’t beaten Manchester United since a 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge in November 2017.

The clubs have played 11 times since then with United winning four.

There have been six draws and four United wins in the 10 top-flight meetings as Old Trafford since Chelsea’s last league win at Old Trafford.

The last time the Blues won at Old Trafford was in May 2013 when soon-to-be-Red-Devil Juan Mata scored the only goal of the game in the 87th minute. The Blues beat United three times that season, including the FA Cup after a replay and the English Football League Cup. United won the reverse league fixture 3-2 in September ending the winning streak for Chelsea.

Indeed no Premier League fixture has produced more draws (26) than this pairing.

Overall, this is the 194th meeting between the clubs of which United have won 79 and Chelsea 53.

The teams are on the way

Manchester United will line up in their home kit of red tops, white shorts and black socks.

Chelsea wear their blue tops and shorts with white socks.

Much of the talk surrounds those who don’t start for United. But a response will be expected – from the off – from those who are on the pitch.

Under way at Old Trafford

The formations and positions appear as expected. Will the tempo be as lively from the off?

Chelsea will know United are there for the taking if the Reds are still looking a little blue.

1 minute: Manchester United 0-0 Chelsea

First effort from United

Fernandes fizzes a 20-yard shot over the bar first time.

3 minutes: Manchester United 0-0 Chelsea

Hojlund draws the save

The striker gets in through the inside left and, from the angle, fires a shot across Sanchez.

The Chelsea stopper does well to get down low to get behind the ball.

Two consecutive corners for United come to nothing.

4 minutes: Manchester United 0-0 Chelsea

VAR review for a United penalty

Antony has his foot stepped on in the area by Fernandez.

And penalty given!

6 minutes: Manchester United 0-0 Chelsea

Penalty saved!

Fernandes goes low to Sanchez’s right and the keeper gets down to push the ball away one-handed.

Hojlund fires the rebound over from an angle.

9 minutes: Manchester United 0-0 Chelsea

Mudryk hits the side netting

United give the ball away inside their own half, but the Chelsea man is shepherded to an angle from which he can only fire wide.

Straight up the other end and Garnacho draws a save with the feet from Sanchez from an angle.

Someone will get a shot off from a central position soon.

13 minutes: Manchester United 0-0 Chelsea

Antony fluffs his shot

Amrabat releases Antony and he finds a yard on on the edge of the box, but it’s a tame effort which Sanchez would expect to save low to his right.

Shaw is booked for kicking the ball away.

15 minutes: Manchester United 0-0 Chelsea

No time to analyse body language

It’s the kind of start we all hoped for and expected. Breathless and end to end, so no time to consider United’s body language yet.

Fernandez gets a long-range shot away for Chelsea and goalkeeper Onana holds on well as the ball swerves late.

18 minutes: Manchester United 0-0 Chelsea

Goal!

McTominay opens the scoring.

United keep up the pressure on the edge of the Chelsea box and Garnacho eventually finds room on the left to cross.

It’s met by Maguire whose effort is blocked but it drops to McTominay, who takes on touch to control and another to volley home from 12 yards (11 metres).

19 minutes: Manchester United 1-0 Chelsea

Chelsea nearly through

The Blues nearly hit back at the other end as Sterling counters, but his ball across is cleared in the nick of time by Dalot with two Chelsea shirts in close proximity.

21 minutes: Manchester United 1-0 Chelsea

Chelsea have a penalty claim

Sterling breaks into the box and Lindelof leaves a trailing leg.

VAR completes its check and there was not any contact of consequence.

Should the Chelsea forward have been booked, in that case?

25 minutes: Manchester United 1-0 Chelsea

A vastly improved United

There’s a stark contract between the United on display at Old Trafford to the one that lost at Newcastle on Saturday.

McTominay leads a surge forward and releases Dalot, who squares for Garnacho.

It’s just behind the winger and the ball kicks up as he takes a touch – could he have swung an overhead kick at it?

Instead, he drives it low as the ball dips and it’s just too far in front of Hojlund, as the ball fizzes across the face of goal.

27 minutes: Manchester United 1-0 Chelsea

Sanchez sloppy in goal

The Blues keeper passes the ball straight to Antony, but there’s body in front of him.

The forward cuts inside before McTominay’s shot is blocked.

United piling on the pressure.

30 minutes: Manchester United 1-0 Chelsea

Keepers to the fore

Action at both ends. McTominay has a close-range header saved by Sanchez and the midfielder’s immediate follow up is saved as well.

Straight to the other end and Onana saves at the feet of Jackson with Chelsea clean through and two forwards honing in on the United goal.

The game is wide open.

32 minutes: Manchester United 1-0 Chelsea

Mudryk’s turn to miss

The Chelsea forward gets past Dalot but Maguire keeps him at bay.

Mudryk releases a snap shot with a low back lift regardless and it skims the outside of the post with Onana and Maguire looking on in hope rather than expectation.

45 minutes: Manchester United 1-0 Chelsea

McTominay winded

A moment’s pause for everyone as the goalscorer needs treatment.

He’s fine after a moment.

Fernandes has two efforts from range. One from a free kick, which deflects wide.

The corner drops to the United captain 25 yards out and he lashes it goalwards but wide enough not to worry Sanchez.

42 minutes: Manchester United 1-0 Chelsea

Goal!

Chelsea equalise.

Palmer, the United fan as a boy, slaloms across the 18-yard box before pulling a low drive across a sprawling Onana.

Great individual goal.

45 minutes: Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea

Eight minutes of stoppage time

The McTominay injury and the assistant’s technical malfunction (his communication device broke) have added a substantial amount of time to a lively first half.

The Chelsea fans have found their voice but the United fans have lost theirs for now.

48 minutes: Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea

United pressure Sanchez

Two corners for Fernandes which are both swung in under the bar of the Chelsea keeper.

They apply a little too much pressure on Sanchez the second time and his soft punch is enough as the ref awards a free kick for leaning in by Maguire.

51 minutes: Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea

Half time

A quiet end to a lively first half at Old Trafford.

Half-time: Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea

Chelsea punish United profligacy

United dominated from the off and the penalty came on the back of sustained early pressure.

Fernandes would have been mightily relieved to see McTominay open the scoring after the United captain missed the spot kick.

McTominay could have doubled the lead but from a double save from Sanchez from close range, while there have been more than enough sighters for United to have made more of their moments.

Sterling should have punished United on the counter after the goal, but his ball left Jackson with too much to do when the pair broke through.

Credit to Onana for smothering the effort.

Could the United keeper have done better with Palmer’s shot? Maybe.

It was a fine jinking run across the backline by the Chelsea forward and the direction of the shot was perfect.

It wasn’t the fiercest of efforts from the youngster, but perhaps that’s a little too harsh on Onana.

United had 18 efforts in the first half.

Having been pegged back, can this team, under plenty of pressure, maintain this performance level?

Under way in the second half

Kick off in the second half at Old Trafford and changes to tell you of.

Reguilon has replaced Lindelof in the United defence with Shaw moving to central defence.

James has replaced Cucurella for Chelsea.

46 minutes: Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea

Chelsea go close from a corner

Mudryk’s corner makes its way to Jackson at the back post, but the striker can’t keep the header down.

49 minutes: Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea

Garnacho goes for another overhead

Nice move down the right from United and the cross bounces up at the back post where Garnacho leaps for another overhead kick.

He can’t keep this one down and it sails over.

Within seconds, he’s free on the left and cuts inside to fire a right-footed shot just wide of the top corner.

55 minutes: Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea

Antony effort falls just wide

The forward swings at a half volley and the ball deflects, to wrong foot the keeper, but it falls just the wrong side of the post.

The resulting corner drops to Shaw, whose volley hits a Chelsea player and calls for a penalty but nothing from the ref or VAR.

60 minutes: Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea

Dreamy drag back from Fernandes

The United keeper drags the ball away from two Chelsea defenders on the edge of the box and unleashes a deflected drive wide.

McTominay meets the corner but couldn’t find enough power to beat Sanchez in goal.

Garnacho swings something between a cross and a shot just wide as United are immediately on the attack again.

64 minutes: Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea

United pushing forward

The second half doesn’t have the same tempo as the first 45 minutes, but United seem to carry more of the threat.

Another passage of play pens Chelsea in and a corner eventually finds its way to Antony, but his effort from 25 yards sails wide.

68 minutes: Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea

VAR check on a goal!

McTominay to the double – or is he?

VAR checking a potential foul.

69 minutes: Manchester United 2-1 Chelsea

Goal given!

McTominay’s second stands.

A deep cross from the left and the United midfielder soars above the Chelsea defence to head home from eight yards out.

There was no push in the build-up.

72 minutes: Manchester United 2-1 Chelsea

United through again

Garnacho spurns a chance now as he’s through but puts his shot at Sanchez.

75 minutes: Manchester United 2-1 Chelsea

Broja on for Mudryk

Chelsea go with two up front to find a way back.

77 minutes: Manchester United 2-1 Chelsea

Garnacho goes close

Agonisingly wide for the United left winger.

He finds space in the area, but the low effort was always curling away from the far post.

80 minutes: Manchester United 2-1 Chelsea

Rashford comes on for Hojlund

Meantime, two fantastic crosses are fired across the United six-yard box, but no one can make a connection for Chelsea.

84 minutes: Manchester United 2-1 Chelsea

James fires over

There’s a lull and it’s a scrap between nervy and scrappy.

James finds himself on the end of a long, cross-field ball at the back post and swings an ambitious volley over the bar.

88 minutes: Manchester United 2-1 Chelsea

Four minutes of stoppage time

Evans comes on for Garnacho as United look to run down the clock.

They’re defending deep, and it feels like the sheer possession, so high up the field, will forge at least a half chance for Chelsea.

However, since the substitution, United have worked the ball to the other end, where they look to slow things further.

92 minutes: Manchester United 2-1 Chelsea

Corner for Chelsea

Last kick of the match coming up.

95 minutes: Manchester United 2-1 Chelsea

Full time

The corner is cleared and the whistle blows.

Full-time: Manchester United 2-1 Chelsea

Tight but deserved for United

United climb to sixth as they hold on at the end.

Chelsea couldn’t find the crucial, clinical opening in the dying stages.

Those two dangerous crosses that rocked and rolled across the box in quick succession were the closest they came to finding an opening.

It was all United in the main. The Blues had their moments, including that fine equaliser for Palmer, but they couldn’t muster a concerted spell of pressure in the game.

United had the play, the chances and they have won.

McTominay was the hero with a brace – a stabbed volley and a header – but he could have had two or three more himself.

Anyone of a number will wish they also made more of their moments.

The focus though was on the body language and the result.

On those two notes – Erik ten Hag has produced. The players played for him, the shirt and the Old Trafford crowd.

Had Chelsea found that final opening and a late equaliser, it would have been cruel on United.

It may also have been crucial for the games ahead. As it is, United produced everything that could have been asked of them on the night, bar taking a few more of the 28 chances they created.

McTominay hails response to ‘abysmal’ Newcastle defeat

A brace from Scott McTominay led United back to winning ways and the midfielder was delighted with how the team responded to Saturday’s defeat at Newcastle United.

“We started really, really well in the game, and the fans were really happy the way that we started and reacted after a pretty abysmal display against Newcastle,” he told Amazon Prime.

“All the boys were so upset with how we coped with that game – it wasn’t anywhere near good enough and to win tonight was a plus and something we can build on.

“I’m delighted to have scored two. I’ve always enjoyed getting in the box and maybe on the night I could have had one or two more, especially if I calmed down on the last one for my hat-trick.

“I felt like all the boys were world-class tonight, and we have to show that consistently, which has not been the case of late.

“We have Bournemouth next, and we can’t get too carried away just because we played well tonight. We have to take it one step at a time.”

Meantime at Villa Park

With the victory against Chelsea, Manchester United are now three points behind Manchester City following a defeat for their neighbours at Villa Park.

The Villans are fourth and a point behind City, who drop to third following Liverpool’s 2-0 win against Sheffield United.

No wonder he is smiling

The former Arsenal manager, Unai Emery, is working wonders at Aston Villa.

This is a good dressing room – they fight for each other’

Erik ten Hag has again come out fighting in his post-match interview following the criticism of the Newcastle defeat and the stories of player unrest under his management.

“Every time we are talking about Newcastle,” he told Amazon Prime. “We have played three games in a week, and we have played very good in two of them. Two good performances and one very bad, and everyone is talking about the one bad performance.

“The players know when they play good and when they play bad, and we told them but they are not robots – they can’t do it every time. This is a good side. This is a good dressing room and they fight for each other.

“We have a good dressing room – it is not only about 11 players on the pitch because all the others that are on the bench have showed so many times they are incredibly good for this team and this club. When we play so many games you had to rotate also.

“He [McTominay] had a very important role to pick them up, to defend to press, and I admire the player. And also in possession and finding himself in scoring positions.

“We wanted to put things right and the crowd is always behind us and we have to please them. Sometimes you have lesser performances and get a result. On Saturday, Newcastle was very good, but in the end, we could have drawn with them.

“This league is very strong and everyone can beat everyone, so when you are not top, like we weren’t, then you can get killed.”

Pochettino admits the better team won

Chelsea drew level in the first half through a fine goal from Palmer, but the Blues boss admits his side weren’t able to exert any dominance in the game.

“The other team deserved the victory,” Pochettino told Amazon Prime. “It was difficult at the start – they showed massive energy.

“Maybe we were affected because we played on Sunday and we repeated [the lineup] with similar players.

“Maybe it was difficult to play the game in the way we wanted, but then we created enough chances to be in the game.

“We started the second half well, controlling the game, but then, in one action, we conceded and it was really difficult.”

Goodbye from the blog

So Manchester United hit back – on the pitch and to their critics.

The players responded and the result was what the club wanted, and the manager was vindicated by the performance.

Chelsea drift into the bottom half of the Premier League. Pochettino points to injuries and absentees – and a day less to recover from the weekend’s game than their opponent had.

Newcastle can reclaim sixth on Thursday when they face Everton. As it stands, six points separate the top four and nine separate the top six – that could be seven if Newcastle claim at least a point at Goodison Park.

This could be one of the closest and one of the greatest Premier League seasons to date.

Al Jazeera Sport will be here to keep you up to speed with all the crucial twists and turns.

We hope you enjoyed the coverage of this one, and please do join us again soon for more live-text commentary on the blog.

For now, from the Al Jazeera Sport team and myself, Kevin Hand, it’s goodbye as Manchester United get back to winning ways.

Source: https://www.aljazeera.com/sports/liveblog/2023/12/6/live-text-coverage-and-commentary-of-manchester-united-against-chelsea-on-a-busy-day-of-premier-league-fixtures-from-al-jazeera-sport

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Mark Johnshon

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