Chelsea vs Manchester United - Combined X
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Chelsea vs Manchester United – Combined XI

Chelsea and Manchester United meet in the Premier League this evening with the stakes significantly lowered from past encounters.

Two of the division’s traditional forces are in periods of transition with this evening’s encounter one in which both teams need a result to keep alive fading hopes of reaching European competitions.

Ahead of their clash at Stamford Bridge, we’ve selected our Chelsea and Manchester United Combined XI from those available.

Chelsea vs Manchester United – Combined XI:

Goalkeeper: Andre Onana – Manchester United

Andre Onana’s performances have improved at Manchester United after a shaky start this season. Operating behind the division’s most generous defence is no easy task, but the Cameroonian ranks second in the Premier League for clean sheets (8), third for saves (107) and third for save percentage (74.7%).

Better protection ahead of him is required, with the Red Devils having conceded the most shots in the Premier League this season.

Right-back: Diogo Dalot – Manchester United

Diogo Dalot earns the right-back role, with Chelsea captain Reece James out and Malo Gusto a doubt. Dalot has been one of the most consistent performers in a season of inconsistency for Manchester United, nailing down the right-back position after a winding road to a regular role at Old Trafford.

His defensive game and work in duels have improved immeasurably from the vulnerabilities he too often showed in his earlier career.

Centre-back: Axel Disasi – Chelsea

Axel Disasi has been an almost ever-present at the heart of the Chelsea defence with his robustness welcomed amid fitness issues across the squad. The Frenchman has made mistakes, but there’s a rawness to his defending that can be refined in time.

His performance in the draw at Manchester City earlier in the campaign was an example of his capabilities to defend the box, as Disasi made 16 clearances, the most by a Chelsea player in a Premier League game in the last eight seasons.

Centre-back: Raphael Varane – Manchester United

Raphael Varane’s struggles for fitness have been a source of frustration for Manchester United, who have failed to see the best of the four-time Champions League winner at Old Trafford.

Varane, however, is fit to return on Thursday evening and will add vital leadership to the backline. In terms of reading the game and defending his box, there are few better in the Premier League.

Left-back: Marc Cucurella – Chelsea

Left-back is an area of concern for both teams heading into the contest with Manchester United without a recognised option in the absence of Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia. Ben Chilwell is also expected to miss out through illness and Levi Colwill is sidelined, leaving Marc Cucurella to fill the void.

The Spaniard has failed to set the world alight since signing for Chelsea from Brighton but will hope to build on a first goal for the club against Leicester last month, and an appearance for the national team during the international break.

Midfield: Kobbie Mainoo – Manchester United

Kobbie Mainoo’s emergence has been the feel-good story of an otherwise challenging season for Manchester United, with the midfielder breaking into the senior side and the England squad. The 18-year-old’s meteoric rise has been such that he is being championed for a place in Gareth Southgate’s starting side at Euro 2024 this summer.

Unflappable in possession, his seamless step into senior football has been extraordinary.

Midfield: Enzo Fernandez – Chelsea

Question marks might continue to exist in terms of Enzo Fernandez’s price tag, but the Chelsea midfielder has shown enough quality to indicate he will be a central part of the Blues’ future.

Elegant in a deep-lying conductor role, Chelsea’s best football often runs through the Argentine World Cup winner.

Midfield: Bruno Fernandes – Manchester United

Bruno Fernandes polarises opinion but the Manchester United midfielder is an elite creator, posting consistent numbers to rival the best in world football.

He leads Europe’s top five leagues for shot-creating actions (168), ranks second for key passes (86) and third for through balls (23). The Portuguese playmaker is also in the Premier League’s top three performers for expected assists and progressive passes. He has eight goals and nine assists across all competitions in 2023/24.

Right-wing: Cole Palmer – Chelsea

Cole Palmer has been a revelation since swapping the blue of Manchester City for Chelsea, taking centre stage in Mauricio Pochettino’s side.

The 21-year-old has scored 13 goals and laid on eight assists this season, becoming just the fifth Chelsea player to reach 20+ Premier League goal involvements in their debut campaign. The numbers, remarkable as they are, tell just part of the story, however, with Palmer’s confidence and swagger having ensured he has hit the ground running in west London. A place on the plane for Euro 2024 looks probable.

Left-wing: Alejandro Garnacho – Manchester United

Manchester United’s long-term future should be built around the club’s emerging young talent and Alejandro Garnacho is another who could save the club a fortune in the transfer market. The 19-year-old has taken his game up another gear after a first-team breakthrough last season, scoring seven times in all competitions.

His willingness to chase lost causes and run himself into the ground has ensured fan favourite status, while his performances have not gone unnoticed at international level. Garnacho has won five caps for Argentina since making his debut for the world champions last summer.

Forward: Rasmus Hojlund – Manchester United

Rasmus Hojlund edges the battle of the number nines for our combined XI, with the Dane and Chelsea’s Nicolas Jackson having had up-and-down first seasons in English football. Each has mixed bright spells with patchy form, though Hojlund has the edge with 13 goals in all competitions.

The 21-year-old has all the ingredients needed to develop into an elite centre-forward, with pace, power and a sweet left foot. His fine form in the Champions League’s group stage, scoring five times in six appearances, proved he can cut it at the top level.

Read – Thierry Henry’s poise, Roy Keane’s red mist and the most iconic Premier League imagery of the 2000s

See more – Remembering the three-way Premier League title races

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