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Chelsea logo
Premier League | Gameweek 31
Apr 4, 2024 at 8.15pm UK
Stamford Bridge
Manchester United logo

4 - 3
Man Utd

Gallagher (4'), Palmer (19' pen., 90+10' pen., 90+11')
Gusto (32'), Fernandez (35'), Caicedo (90+12')
FT(HT: 2-2)
Garnacho (34', 67'), Fernandes (39')
Maguire (90+13')

Chelsea vs. Manchester United Combined XI - Hojlund, Palmer, Fernandez

Ahead of Thursday's Premier League clash between Chelsea and Manchester United, Sports Mole picks a combined XI from both squads.

The latest round of Premier League fixtures concludes with an enticing encounter between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on Thursday night.

Both clubs enter this contest after claiming just a point against relegation-threatened teams last weekend – the Blues drew 2-2 at home to 10-man Burnley just a few hours before the Red Devils conceded a 99th-minute equaliser in a 1-1 draw at Brentford.

While Erik ten Hag's side are facing an uphill battle to qualify for next season's Champions League, currently sitting sixth in the Premier League table and eight points adrift of fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur, Mauricio Pochettino's men are down in 11th spot and sit four points behind the top seven.

Chelsea will be seeking revenge against Man United after they suffered a 2-1 defeat in the reverse fixture at Old Trafford in December – the Blues have failed to win any of their last 12 Premier League meetings with the Red Devils.

Although injury concerns continue to rear their ugly heads for both clubs, there will still be a plethora of stars names on display when the two teams lock horns on Thursday, and with that in mind, Sports Mole picks a combined XI from the squads of both sides, using only players - at the time of writing - expected to be available for the contest.

CHE vs. MNU combined XI

Following a rocky start to life at Old Trafford, Andre Onana's performances between the sticks for Man United have improved in recent weeks. The Cameroonian has made the fourth-most saves (108) in the Premier League this season and also boasts the third-best save percentage (74.7%), so he gets the nod in our combined XI over Djordje Petrovic, who has established himself as Chelsea's new No.1 ever since Robert Sanchez picked up an injury in December.

Defensively is where both sides have been predominantly hampered with injuries this season, but Diogo Dalot has been ever-present for Man United thus far, starting 26 of the club's 29 top-flight games. The Portuguese has arguably been one of the Red Devils' standout performers this term, operating at either right-back or left-back, and he takes a spot on the right side of our back four, edging out Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Malo Gusto and Reece James – the latter two are nursing injuries.

With Man United duo Raphael Varane and Victor Lindelof both major injury doubts for Thursday's clash and Wesley Fofana still recovering from a long-term knee problem, the experienced head of Thiago Silva will partner Lisandro Martinez in the heart of our defence, pipping Harry Maguire and Axel Disasi who can be prone to making the odd defensive mishap.

Thirty-nine-year-old Silva continues to defy his years while playing at the highest level, while Martinez – who made his comeback from injury last weekend – has impressed in the limited games that he has featured in this term and is regarded as one of the first names on the teamsheet, when fit, under Ten Hag.

Both teams are light in the left-back department, with Chelsea's Ben Chilwell doubtful and Levi Colwill still sidelined, while Man United duo Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia are also in the treatment room, so that leaves us with Marc Cucurella, who has played the full 90 minutes in Chelsea's last two games, as the only recognised left-back option available for Thursday's contest.

Chelsea's Cole Palmer celebrates scoring their second goal with Enzo Fernandez on March 11, 2024© Reuters

Although Enzo Fernandez is yet to justify his £107m price tag, the deep-lying Argentine playmaker has developed into an integral first-team player under Pochettino, contributing in both boxes, and he slots into our engine room alongside Man United and England's teenage rising star Kobbie Mainoo, who makes the cut at the expense of Casemiro, Moises Caicedo and Scott McTominay having excelled as an all-round midfielder in his breakthrough campaign under Ten Hag, starting 15 of the Red Devils last 17 Premier League games since and including his debut in November.

Another young Englishman who has taken to the Premier League by storm is Chelsea's Cole Palmer who has quickly developed into a star player for Blues this term. With 13 goals and eight assists in 25 Premier League games, the 20-year-old is the fifth Chelsea player to reach 20 top-flight goals involvements in his debut campaign at the club after Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink, Eden Hazard, Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas. There were no qualms about selecting the ex-Manchester City man in our combined XI on the right flank, where he has had most of his joy this season.

Conor Gallagher deserves an honourable mention having worked hard to establish himself as a first-team regular under Pochettino this term, but he has been left out to make room for Bruno Fernandes in the number 10 role. The Portuguese playmaker may not have had his best campaign to date, but he has nevertheless been one of Man United's most productive players in terms of output, contributing with eight goals and nine assists in 39 matches across all tournaments.

Alejandro Garnacho has had a lot of joy on the right wing for Man United this season, but he slots in on the left side of attack in our combined XI ahead of Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling and Mykhaylo Mudryk. Only Fernandes and Dalot have made more appearances in all competitions than Garnacho (39) among the Red Devils' outfield players this season, with the 19-year-old recording seven goals and four assists while enjoying the most consistent season of his United career to date.

The stats suggest that there is little to separate both Rasmus Hojlund and Nicolas Jackson this season – the former recording 13 goals and two assists compared to the latter's 12 goals and four assists – but taking into account his impressive form since the turn of the year as well as his importance at such a young age as United's focal point, 20-year-old Hojlund just gets the nod to lead the line.

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Chelsea's John Terry in action with Manchester United's Wayne Rooney on November 8, 2009.
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