Manchester United faces the biggest test of the year so far against Chelsea this Sunday. Injuries and suspensions are going to give Van Gaal a tactical headache and a couple hard decisions have to be made. Van Persie is not playing at his best and appears to have the same infectious muscle fatigue ailment as Ballotelli giving him no strength or desire to make any runs that matter in the 18 yard box. He should start on the bench.
United are going to need to go into the half with a 1-0 lead or 0-0 draw and anything outside of that score line will leave a still disjointed team with an impossible challenge to comeback from. Rafael and Shaw who in recent weeks have been prone to make pivoting mistakes, will have to have an exceptionally clean start. The central defense should be very aware of the likes of Schurrel and Fabregas who will be poking for holes through the middle. Keeping Chelsea on the wings and forcing crosses in should prove valuable tactically and keep the central defenders from missing markers in front of goal. Shape and discipline will be crucial to keeping the game tight.
The overlapping runs and combination play for United will have to be excellent. On the left side, DiMaria and Shaw and on the right side Valencia (if fit) and Rafael would be choice combinations to frustrate Chelsea. Run after run along the sides to open up the play for the likes of Mata and Januzaj to threaten goal. Falcao has to come good this game and prove his worth as a world class striker.
Surprise inclusions for Sundays game will be Januzaj side by side with Mata and Jonny Evans back in the squad alongside Jones in Central defense. Defensive postures by all will have to be taken up by all to get to halftime in good shape. Any necessary tactical adjustments can be made by having an extremely strong bench to help adapt as the tactics change. This starting XI allows for RVP, Rojo, Carrick, Fellani, Young, and Fletcher on the bench for offensive or defensive fluctuations. Not to mention sending a message to RVP and Rojo about their efforts and experience in BPL rival games respectively.
Expect battles on the wings and in the middle of the pitch. Do not expect a high scoring game or racing start. Two of the best managers in the world are burning up pencils and whiteboards trying to outsmart one another and in the end; do not be surprised at a low scoring draw.