Chelsea v Man Utd: Tuchel's Blues to keep it tight

Paul Higham expects goals to be in short supply as Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea host Man Utd at Stamford Bridge on Sunday...

Chelsea unbeaten under Tuchel

New Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has had an immediate impact on his new side and he's enjoyed an unbeaten eight-game start (W6 D2) at the Stamford Bridge helm. Sunday's visitors offer his sternest test yet.

Tuchel's three-man defence coupled with two holding midfielders has really made the Blues tough to break down - they've conceded just twice in the German's eight games in charge with six clean sheets.

Chelsea have been grinding out results rather than blowing teams away, with four of their six wins under Tuchel coming by the odd goal, but their midweek Champions League win over Atletico Madrid was the most impressive yet.

Man Utd will offer a much more direct attacking threat here, but Chelsea will have a huge confidence booster as they start a tough run of games against United, Liverpool, Everton and Leeds, before the return leg against Atletico, that will go a long way to defining their season.

United's away run deserves respect

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side insist they're still in what looks a one-horse title race, and this week could well prove finally decisive as the Red Devils face three straight away games with Crystal Palace following Chelsea before a huge Manchester derby at the Etihad.

The job Solskjaer is doing at Old Trafford continues to divide pundits and fans alike, with many still claiming both he and the team are not good enough, but yet they're second in the table, in the last 16 of the Europa League and are still in the FA Cup.

They also have the even-money favourite to be named PFA Player of the Year in Bruno Fernandes and a fine unbeaten away record that doesn't really get the recognition it deserves.

Yes, they're a count-attacking side and there are no home fans lately but they've gone 13 months since their last Premier League away defeat at Anfield on January 19, 2020 - that takes some doing.

Chelsea defence v United attack

There's no doubting the respective strength of the two sides - Chelsea lead the league in goals conceded, shots against and expected goals against since Tuchel's arrival, while Man Utd are the top scorers both overall and away from home.

It won't be a typical attack versus defence battle though, as Chelsea will have the majority of possession and it's more a case of them being alive to the counter-attacking prowess of the visitors. Solskjaer may have the firepower but he's not one to go gung-ho and expose their obvious flaws defensively.

Chelsea are 2.3 favourites with Man Utd 3.3 and the draw 3.3 - given how tactical and tight games between the traditional 'Big Six' teams have been this season then a stalemate will be a popular play.

Since United will play on the break and Chelsea aren't big scorers, there's not a great prospect for a lot of goals on Sunday either, under 2.5 goals is 1.9 and just a touch bigger than the overs here but I really can't see goals flowing at the Bridge.

Can Bruno make 'Big Six' breakthrough?

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Fernandes is so often the key for United and he arrives here in great form after scoring in his last four league games, with 15 overall in the Premier League he's just behind Mohamed Salah and is 8.0 for the Golden Boot.

Despite that form though his production hasn't come in these 'Big Six' matches, with just one penalty in a 6-1 rout by Tottenham his only return in six league outings. United have, in fact, failed to score in the other five clashes with four of them ending in 0-0 draws.

Another goalless draw here is 10 and must be on the shortlist. Preference for a bet in these tight games though is the half-time draw at 2.1 given the way the game is expected to play out, with neither team wanting to make that mistake early on. Chelsea have been level at the break eight times this season while United are first half draw specialists with 14.

If we are to find a winner then it's likely to come from a mistake or set piece - only three teams have scored more set piece goals than Chelsea (nine) while only two teams have conceded more than Man Utd (10).

Don't rule out a penalty either with only Leicester being awarded more than these two teams (eight) so the 2.7 on a spot kick here may also be worth a look.

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