Premier League 2018-19: Big Match Focus: Manchester United vs Chelsea

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer described his first few weeks as Manchester United manager as "rollercoaster" but back then, while guiding the team to 12 unbeaten Premier League matches, he surely never envisaged his side's form plummeting downhill as fast as it has.

Wednesday night's 2-0 defeat to Manchester City was United's seventh in nine matches across the competition, and the club's decision to hand Solskjaer a three-year contract in March is starting to look questionable.

The first and foremost attempt to stop the rot, and the first he must attempt to stop the rot and resume United's push for Champions League qualification by beating Maurizio Sarri's inconsistent Chelsea side.

Sarri's men will be keen to compound Solskjaer's problems.

SOLSKJAER AND SARRI TOIL UNDER DARK CLOUDS

Solskja men have plenty of reasons to believe they can win a gloom and avoid first run of four defeats since December 2015 – Reuters

The mood around Old Trafford is so bleak that it is easy to forget that United could draw level with Chelsea by beating the visitors.

What is more, it is only 14 months ago that Jesse Lingard came off the bench to score a 75th-minute winner who handed Jose Mourinho's United side to 2-1 victory over Chelsea at the Theater of Dreams, and the Red Devils' starting line -up has not changed dramatically since then.

Chelsea is unbeaten in the league at home in 2019 but it has won only two of their last seven top flight away games, which included a 4-0 reverse at Bournemouth and a 6-0 drubbing by Manchester City.

Solskjaer's men, who beats the Blues 2-0 in the FA Cup in February, they have a lot of reasons to believe they can take a long run since December 2015, when they lost to Wolfsburg, Bournemouth, Norwich City and Stoke City.

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HEAD TO HEAD: KEPA ARRIZABALAGA v DAVID DE GEA

Manchester United goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga's season has been solid, keeping 13 clean sheets and conceding 38 goals, – Reuters

This season, with Kepa getting to grips with English football, while Gea is arguably having his worst campaign since his first at United.

Kepa's season has been solid, with the former Athletic Bilbao is keeping 13 goals and conceding 38 goals, whereas De Gea has just seven shutouts and had 50 goals against him.

READ: 'Man Utd not ready to compete with City or Liverpool next season'

De Gea comes out on top in terms of saves, making 116 to Kepa's 76 and having a 69.5 save percentage – the Chelsea stopper keeping out 66.7 per cent of shots.

Where De Gaia really falls down, however, it is the fact that it has made three errors that have led to goals.

Kepa is guilty of no such mistakes, while he has saved one of the two penalties he has faced. De Gea had not kept out of the five spot-kicks against him.

FORM GUIDE

In 57 years, he lost his last nine matches in all competitions. The last time it endured such a torrid streak was in 1962, when Leyton Orient, Bolton Wanderers and Blackburn Rovers were among seven clubs to beat the Red Devils over a nine-game period.

Keeping a clean sheet has become seemingly impossible for United, which has gone 12 games since its last shut-out against Liverpool on February 24. Barcelona put three past the team at Camp Nou and Everton broke a 4-0 win at Goodison Park before City cruised to a 2-0 victory.

RELATED: Blind hopeful of Man Utd resurgence under Solskjaer

Chelsea has recovered from a game in a game. Chelsea has recovered from 12 games between January 8 and February 24.

Maurizio Sarri's men have been prolific in front of goal, 20 times their last 10 games in competitions and they will be looking for problems that have conceded 50 goals this season – more than any United side since 2001-02.

Maurizio Sarri's men have been prolific in front of goal, scoring 20 times across their last 10 games in all competition – AFP

HISTORY SAYS …

Chelsea has not won at Old Trafford in the league since May 2013, when Sir Alex Ferguson's side succumbed to a late goal from Juan Mata, who switched allegiances eight months later.

The Blues have drawn out two of their four subsequent games at Old Trafford.

READ: Chelsea manager Sarri charged by FA

In the last decade, the only other occasion when Chelsea left Old Trafford with three Premier League points was in April 2010, when Joe Cole and Didier Drogba scored in a 2-1 victory, with Federico Macheda scoring at late consolation for United.

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