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Talking Tactics

Fast starters Man Utd and Chelsea prepare for battle

Adrian Clarke 15 Jun 2019
Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante, Man Utd v Chelsea

Adrian Clarke says something will have to give when two sides with best Matchweek 1 points hauls meet

Adrian Clarke looks at two standout opening-weekend matches following the release of the 2019/20 Premier League fixture list.

Manchester United and Chelsea have 18 Premier League titles between them.

And Man Utd, who have won the Trophy on 13 occasions, will host five-time champions Chelsea in their 2019/20 season opener on Sunday 11 August.

This battle of the big-hitters features two sides who tend to start the season with victories.

No other clubs to have played more than three Premier League seasons boast better records on the opening weekend, with Man Utd and Chelsea averaging 2.1 points each.

PL opening-weekend record
Club P W Pts W% Pts/Match
MUN 27 18 58 66.7 2.15
CHE 27 17 57 63 2.11
LIV 27 15 53 55.6 1.96
ARS 27 14 48 51.9 1.78
MCI 22 11 39 50 1.77

Despite winning three titles in the past decade, Chelsea have a relatively poor record at Old Trafford.

The Blues are winless in their last six league trips to Man Utd. Their last victory came in May 2013 when Juan Mata scored the only goal of the match.

Across the last six seasons we have witnessed two United wins and four draws.

Former Chelsea players have tended to shine in this contest.

Mata scored for the Red Devils in a 1-1 draw last term, and in 2017/18 Romelu Lukaku netted in a 2-1 home success.

Ones to watch

In Chelsea’s first Premier League outing since Eden Hazard's move to Real Madrid, all eyes will be on their new signing Christian Pulisic.

The 20-year-old struggled to nail down a regular place in Borussia Dortmund's starting line-up last season, falling behind Jadon Sancho in the pecking order with just nine Bundesliga starts. 

But the American proved influential when he was involved, scoring four goals and providing four assists.

If he starts at Old Trafford, Pulisic’s duel with United left-back Luke Shaw will be one to watch. 

Wales international Daniel James could also be in line for a challenging top-flight debut in this Old Trafford opener.

James v Pulisic in 2018/19
  James Pulisic
Club Swansea Dortmund
League Championship Bundesliga
Mins played 2507 924
Goals 4 4
Mins/goal 627 231
Assists 7 4
Mins/assist 358 231

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must decide whether to bed James in slowly, but could be tempted to start his first signing of the summer.

A left-sided player, the 21-year-old has searing pace and likes to take on full-backs.

He used this terrific acceleration well for Swansea City, creating seven goals in the Championship last season.

If James starts, Chelsea's experienced right-back Cesar Azpilicueta would need to adjust his approach to cope with the Welshman’s blistering pace.

This opening-weekend encounter has already whetted the appetite for the 2019/20 campaign.

Also in this series 

Part 2: Aston Villa head to Spurs with high hopes

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