With a bit of luck, the 20-times English champions were buzzing in the Premier League in the last six matches where they are on a winning streak. When the Red Devils suffered a 2-1 defeat against Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium in February, there were concerns whether they can finish in the top four.
However, things went in Van Gaal’s and United’s favour as they went on register victories over Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City at Old Trafford, while defeating Liverpool at Anfield.
With these wins behind them, United travel to West London to take on the league leaders Chelsea. The Blues have been cruising this season and have been very impressive under Jose Mourinho.
For United’s trip to Stamford Bridge, Van Gaal will be without the services of his key players Michael Carrick, Daley Blind, Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo. These four players have played in all of the last six league matches.
“Carrick is injured, he cannot play. But not only Michael Carrick – Daley Blind, Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo cannot play. It cannot be worse because it’s two players in the left central defensive positions, and Jonny Evans is still suspended. Blind and Carrick play in the holding position in midfield, so I have to change my line-up a lot against Chelsea,” Van Gaal told United’s official website.
Van Gaal has confirmed Luke Shaw is fit and that means the former Southampton left-back could return to the starting XI against the side he supported during his childhood. In the absence of Carrick and Blind, skipper Wayne Rooney will be dropped to the holding midfield position.
Louis van Gaal reveals injuries elsewhere may require Wayne Rooney to play as a holding midfielder at Stamford Bridge. #mufc
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) April 17, 2015
“Louis van Gaal reveals injuries elsewhere may require Wayne Rooney to play as a holding midfielder at Stamford Bridge. #mufc,” United tweeted.
Van Gaal will have Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao as the two players available to start against Chelsea. The Colombian international is likely to start ahead of the former Arsenal striker and Soccerlens explained why it could be Falcao’s last chance to impress the Dutchman, if he starts on Saturday.
Angel Di Maria’s suspension after his red card against Arsenal forced Van Gaal to start Juan Mata, who has been instrumental along with his compatriot Ander Herrera. Meanwhile, injuries to Rojo and Jones and Evans’ suspension means Paddy McNair could be called upon against Chelsea.
Despite Van Gaal confirming Rooney will play in the midfield, the former Netherlands manager should play United captain up front as a main player to lead the attack. This will then allow the Dutchman to accommodate Di Maria in the starting lineup.
The former Real Madrid star has struggled to get regular playing time as he has been coming off the bench in the second half. Van Gaal should stick with Rooney up front and start with Di Maria behind him, meaning Marouane Fellaini will be pushed back to the holding position along with Herrera.
The perfect formation for the Chelsea clash will be 4-2-3-1, where Herrera and the tall Belgium international will play behind Ashley Young, Di Maria and Mata. A free role for the South American could help him find his Real Madrid form when he takes on Chelsea and that could be the difference between the two sides at Stamford Bridge.
McNair has always come to the squad when the number of injuries were too high and has been very impressive. United have lost only twice when the Northern Ireland international started and the second one came against Swansea. The defender will also have a point to prove against Chelsea.