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Premier league | United faces severe test at Chelsea

Michael Carrick came through his first game as Manchester United’s ‘pre-interim’ manager with flying colours on Tuesday and should he mastermind a win at Chelsea in the Premier League on Sunday, he might be even earn a longer spell at the helm.

But Premier League leader Chelsea at Stamford Bridge represents an altogether tougher challenge.

While United was winning away in Spain, Thomas Tuchel’s side dismantled Juventus 4-0 and it goes into the weekend with a three-point lead at the top while United is eighth having lost four of its last five league games.

Long overdue

Chelsea will also be aware that a league win over United is long overdue having failed in its last seven meetings and not scoring in the last four.

Carrick will be without captain and centre back Harry Maguire after his red card at Watford and Raphael Varane is injured, so arranging a rearguard that has conceded 15 goals in five league games, will be Carrick’s puzzle.

Victor Lindelof, who impressed at Villarreal, and Eric Bailly could partner in defence while Dutchman Donny van de Beek might get his first league start this season in midfield as Carrick looks to solidify United’s soft centre.

Chelsea will be without Ben Chilwell who suffered a serious knee injury against Juventus and possibly N’Golo Kante who limped off with a knock but that aside, is in fine fettle.

The league’s top three are already looking a class apart and second-placed Manchester City has the chance to illustrate that as it takes on fourth-placed West Ham United on Sunday.

Liverpool, in third place, hosts Southampton.

Arsenal hosts Newcastle

The weekend action begins with Arsenal at home to bottom club Newcastle United whose new manager Eddie Howe will again watch from afar after a positive COVID-19 test.

Without a win after 12 games and five points behind 17th placed Leeds United, Newcastle needs to kickstart its season and stem an ugly record against Arsenal which reads 16 defeats in its last 17 league clashes with the Gunners.

Aston Villa’s Steven Gerrard will tussle with old midfield adversary Patrick Vieira, now in charge of Crystal Palace, at Selhurst Park on Saturday.

Second-from-bottom Norwich City, whose new boss Dean Smith also started with a win, will seek a third victory on the spin as they host Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Antonio Conte’s Tottenham Hotspur travels to Burnley on Sunday when Leicester City is at home to Watford.

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