How Jose Mourinho can stifle Manchester United’s varied attacks

Mourinho Dugout

Manchester United travel to Chelsea on a six-match winning streak in the Premier League, but Jose Mourinho will have a plan to stifle their threats.

Manchester United travel to league leaders Chelsea in sensational form as they look to steal second place in the Premier League away from Arsenal, who are currently the Blues’ closest challengers.

Since switching to a 4-3-3 formation, the perception of Louis van Gaal and his side has completely changed.

From being largely predictable and negative, they have turned into an exciting and fluid side, who have struck up successful partnerships all over the pitch which Chelsea and Jose Mourinho are aiming to stifle at the weekend.

When the Portuguese boss is given a tactical task ahead of a game, he generally gets it right but United will be hoping Saturday is a different story.

A major area of attack for United has been down the left as they have used the physical Marouane Fellaini to link up with Ashley Young to devastating effect. The Belgian has targeted a less able body aerially to win his individual duels in order to release Young and Daley Blind down the flank.

To combat this threat, Mourinho must pack his midfield in a bid to halt any progress down that side. Whilst Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester City did not have the options, Chelsea most definitely do.

As Jesus Navas failed to track the marauding Blind last weekend, the hard working Ramires could be deployed at right midfield to prevent similar overlaps.

Meanwhile, Branislav Ivanovic is not a full-back who will easily be bullied by Fellaini. Should van Gaal attempt the same direct tactic, that tussle will be very intriguing.

In a bid to stop United’s more direct variation to their usual neat style, Mourinho could also deploy Kurt Zouma and Nemanja Matic as holding midfielders to further protect the backline, who need to focus on Wayne Rooney’s constant movement.

The domination down the left may have been crucial to United’s recent form but they have a major threat on the other side too. Juan Mata and Ander Herrera have been controlling the play in the final third of the pitch and Chelsea must find a way to stop them.

The fact that their staple left-back Cesar Azpilicueta is right-footed will be of good use as Mata obviously prefers to cut inside onto his preferred left. Meanwhile, the presence of two defensive midfielders will help stifle the creators as much as possible.

Should all go to plan, Chelsea will stop any threat United may have going forward with these tactics and with their plethora of attacking talent, such as Player of the Year favourite Eden Hazard, must go into this clash as favourites.

After beating three sides challenging for the top four places, United and their newfound fluidity now face the champions elect, who are a completely different animal and must come to Stamford Bridge with a strong game-plan.

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