Agencies/London, United Kingdom
Manchester United will approach tomorrow’s home Premier League clash with Chelsea in buoyant mood rather than in trepidation after a week which has gone some way to banishing the gloom that was descending on Old Trafford.
After going into this month’s international break with a 6-1 home defeat by Tottenham Hotspur, they have emerged from it with a couple of victories that have kick-started their campaign.
Last weekend’s 4-1 win at Newcastle United was followed by a 2-1 victory away to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League and, for now at least, the critics have been silenced.
Chelsea’s visit, however, presents a test of United’s upswing as they seek their first home league points of the season following defeats by Crystal Palace and Spurs in which they have leaked a combined nine goals, scoring only two.
Chelsea have had their own issues, notably in defence, although a 0-0 home draw with Sevilla on Tuesday in which veteran defender Thiago Silva was magnificent hinted at a big improvement.
The Blues have not won in the league at Old Trafford for seven years and Frank Lampard’s reign as manager began last season with a 4-0 hammering by United. They also lost 2-0 at home, although they did win the FA Cup semi-final between the two.
Chelsea are eighth in the standings with United 15th, having played a game less, and while the table is still shaking out after an unpredictable start to the season, both clubs need to start showing the consistency required to be title contenders.
Liverpool host Sheffield United tomorrow and will be wary of the threat their former forward Rhian Brewster will pose, especially with the champions starting a Premier League game without Virgil van Dijk at the heart of defence for the first time in more than two seasons.
The Dutchman’s absence, possibly for the whole season after his knee was damaged by a reckless tackle by Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford last weekend, is a huge blow. However, Juergen Klopp’s side showed they can defend without him in a 1-0 win at Ajax Amsterdam on Wednesday.
Action begins today as surprise high-flyers Aston Villa, the only club in the top flight with a 100 percent record, host Leeds United whose early season form has dipped somewhat.
With four consecutive wins Villa have enjoyed their best start to a season for 90 years and can go top of the table with a point, but manager Dean Smith is not getting carried away.
“If you’re off it at any stage in the league, you can get a bloody nose very quickly,” Smith warned.
Leeds must sharpen up in attack, says Bielsa
Marcelo Bielsa has warned his Leeds players it is crucial they retain their attacking threat as they seek to re-establish themselves in the Premier League.
Newly-promoted Leeds made a splash on their return to the English top flight after a 16-year gap, scoring three goals in a 4-3 defeat by Liverpool in their opening match before beating Fulham by the same scoreline.
But they have found the net just twice in their three league games since then and have dropped to 10th in the table.
“In a team like us that attacks, it is not good when our attacks don’t create danger,” said the Argentine.
“When this happens the opponent feels that we are not able to cause them much danger, and this makes the game more even.
“The conclusion is that we understand why we lost the game even though we shouldn’t have, and we dominated the large majority of it.”
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