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United seek to beat Chelsea… to revive top-four hopes

AFTER a disappointing derby defeat against Manchester City, Manchester United will be eager to bounce back on Sunday afternoon when the Red Devils welcome fellow top-four contenders Chelsea to Old Trafford.

The Blues make the 202-mile journey north on the back of a 2-2 draw at home to Burnley, while victory is essential for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men if they are to maintain their bid to secure a top-four finish.

After winning 14 of the first 17 matches under Solskjaer across all competitions, United’s form has nose-dived at a remarkable rate: losing seven of their last nine games.

Encouragingly, United have faced Chelsea twice this season and are unbeaten in both encounters at Stamford Bridge. The Reds drew 2-2 in the league back in October, when only a last-gasp Ross Barkley goal denied them victory, before they advanced to the quarter-finals of the Emirates FA Cup with a 2-0 win in February.

Chelsea have managed just one win at Old Trafford in their last 10 games, and a win would move United level on points with Maurizio Sarri’s side.

With Phil Jones still to return to full fitness, Solskjaer is set to name the same back-three/full-back combination that started against Man City in midweek.

That means that forgotten Matteo Darmian will start a second match in succession, having only featured six times previously all season.

Ander Herrera is also set to miss out and Scott McTominay – who was a surprise exclusion from the derby with City – could return to the side.

Chelsea, meanwhile, will be without Callum Hudson-Odoi after the winger ruptured his Achilles in the draw with Burnley at Stamford Bridge last time out.

Elsewhere, Sarri is likely to be without N’Golo Kante (rib injury), Antonio Rudiger (knee injury) and Marcos Alonso (glute injury).

With so much on the line, neither side can afford to lose this one, though United seem to be the favourites by a nose. – EveningStandard

EPL Fixtures:

FRIDAY (yesterday)

Liverpool v Huddersfield

SATURDAY:

Southampton v Bournemouth

Tottenham   v West Ham

Watford     v Wolves

Fulham      v Cardiff    

Palace      v Everton

Brighton    v Newcastle

SUNDAY:

Leicester   v Arsenal

Burnley     v Man City

United      v Chelsea

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