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Tactics: How Man United Can Unlock Chelsea[comment below to get involved in the debate, ]


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Danny Higginbotham (right) takes a tactical look at Chelsea v Manchester United
How can Manchester United give Romelu Lukaku support against Chelsea on Saturday without opening themselves up to a counter-attack?

It will be a key question of balance at Stamford Bridge this weekend, when Jose Mourinho takes his United side back to his old club Chelsea, live on Sky Sports Premier League.

However, Sky Sports tactics expert Danny Higginbotham believes a 4-3-3 formation would give the visitors a real chance of handing Chelsea their first defeat of the season.

At times this season, United striker Lukaku has been distanced from his team-mates, but Higginbotham says a tactical tweak allows fellow forwards such as Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial to join him in the centre of the pitch, and encourages the team’s full-backs to provide options out wide.

By keeping their front three narrow and using their full-backs for width, United can outnumber Chelsea’s defenders

“We’ve spoken before about Lukaku and how he’s been isolated at times,” Higginbotham told Sky Sports News.

“But the 4-3-3 has worked well for United, with Paul Pogba being able to advance as well.

“The three up front are able to play narrow. At times Martial and Rashford have gone into wide areas, probably more often than they would want to, leaving Lukaku isolated.But Luke Shaw, who has arguably been United’s best player this season, and Ashley Young can go forward into those spaces with a 4-3-3 – and then you’re creating a five vs four in United’s favour against Chelsea’s defence.

“With the full-backs advanced in the wide areas, you haven’t just got Lukaku in the middle, you’ve now got at least two others with him.”

United’s defensive midfielders, Nemanja Matic and Marouane Fellaini can cover the advanced full-backs
Crucial to the system working is the cover Nemanja Matic and Marouane Fellaini can offer in the centre of the pitch, in front of the United centre-backs, sitting deep while fellow central midfielder Paul Pogba pushes on.

“The reason United’s full-backs are able to go forward is because they have the four covering,” says Higginbotham.

“The full-backs can go at the same time, the front three can play narrow, create three vs two, and Pogba has that free role going forward.

“If the play breaks down you have Matic and Fellaini comfortable going out wide to cover the full-backs.”

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