Michael Carrick took over Manchester United as the caretaker manager last Sunday after the club parted ways with the former gaffer, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and his managerial record could be just two matches, of which he won the first away to Villarreal last Wednesday.
He faces another litmus test Sunday when he will contrive to obtain a good result away to league leaders, Chelsea, at Stamford Bridge ostensibly before handing over to Ralf Rangnick, who will be the interim manager till the end of the 2021/22 season.
In his first appearance as United manager at Estadio de la Ceramica last Wednesday, Carrick was dressed in a black suit, and he looked prepared and expectant of a positive result. He also rang the changes, dropping Bruno Fernandez and Marcus Rashford for Donny van de Beek and Jadon Sancho.
After a tepid first-half performance, Cristiano Ronaldo and Sancho gave the Red Devils a 2-0 win that guaranteed passage to the round of 16.
No win so far in the League in November
The Mancunians have not won any game in November. The thrashing at Watford last weekend means United have conceded six goals and scored just once in the last two league games against Manchester City and Watford.
Against Chelsea who have scored 17 goals and conceded just three this season in the league at Stamford Bridge, it will be an acid test for Carrick who recorded United’s first win in November away to Villarreal.
They will be without their first-choice centre backs in the injured Raphael Varane and suspended Harry Maguire. There are also doubts over Fred who twisted his ankle against Villarreal but managed to finish the match.
In November, Chelsea have conceded one goal and scored nine even though Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner have been missing for the last month. Werner returned against Juventus with a goal while Lukaku was on the bench in the Champions League encounter.
Duel to watch
Thiago Silva v Cristiano Ronaldo
The battle of the oldies promises to be an exciting one. Silva has been the picture of calm and control as Chelsea have demolished opponents both in the EPL and in the Champions League. Ronaldo has only ever scored once against Chelsea in his career and that was in the Champions League.
Injuries to key players
Both teams share similar challenges regarding injuries to important members of their squads. According to Carrick, some key players might not play against Chelsea.
He made this known during a pre-match press conference, “There is one or two that we’re kind of waiting on. Luke took a bang on the head; we’re assessing him and we’ll make a call on how he is. Fred twisted his ankle. He managed to carry on and see the game out, which is pretty incredible. He played a big part in us winning.
“We’ll have to see how that works out. We’ll be strong and look forward to the game,” Carrick added.
Meanwhile, Chelsea also have a couple of players sidelined due to injury. Tuchel spoke about the condition of Ben Chilwell and N’Golo Kante’s injury.
“Ben has a partial tear of his ACL and the decision is to treat it conservatively. The next six weeks will tell the story if he makes it and will be available, or if he will need surgery.
“N’Golo twisted his knee a little bit against Juventus and feels better but it seems he will be out for some days. We still have a little hope but it’s almost a miracle if he makes it.”
It is not certain if Romelu Lukaku will see any action against his former side on Sunday as Tuchel seeks to celebrate another Chelsea win over United in the league as the last was in November 2017.
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