This weekend sees Manchester United host Premier League champions in waiting Chelsea in Football FanCast’s Fixture in Focus.
It looks set to be a tight-knit affair at Old Trafford; the Blues can’t afford to drop points with second-place Tottenham Hotspur gaining momentum behind them, but Jose Mourinho will be determined to avoid another defeat at all costs, having lost to his ex-employers twice already this season.
The title race may have proved beyond the Red Devils this season but there’s no doubt they have one of the biggest and most varied squads in the Premier League – it’s been more a question of who does and who doesn’t fit Mourinho’s philosophy, and which stars qualify as true top quality.
With that in mind, we asked Chelsea fans earlier this week to vote for which United stars they’d like to see Antonio Conte sign during the next transfer window. The results of our exclusive poll are now in, so here’s a rundown of who made the top three…
He may have scored just four Premier League goals this season but Chelsea fans clearly rate Marcus Rashford highly. Despite the modest return, Rashford has proved himself a real team player this season, putting in shifts out wide to earn the game-time Zlatan Ibrahimovic has taken away from him in United’s centre-forward role. Clearly a top talent in the making, the England international has still shown glimpses of his enormous potential this season and considering Michy Batshuayi’s limited impact since arriving from Marseille last summer, Blues fans seemingly view Rashford as a better choice of understudy to Diego Costa.
Juan Mata won two Player of the Year awards at Stamford Bridge before being ironically sold to Manchester United by Jose Mourinho in January 2015, having struggled to hold down a starting berth under the Portuguese. Clearly Blues fans still have a soft spot for the Spanish magician, who – despite not always being in the first XI – boast 36 goals and a similar tally of assists from 142 appearances for the Old Trafford outfit. Mourinho may once again question whether Mata fits into his long term plans in the coming transfer window – could a return to west London be on the cards?
Now coming to the end of his debut season at Old Trafford, we still haven’t seen the full extremities of Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s powers. The Armenian attacker has been in and out of the starting XI and is yet to replicate the eleven goals and 15 assists he mustered up for Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga last season. But Mkhitaryan’s steadily improved throughout the season and his pace has proved impossible for opposing defences to legislate at times, suggesting he could be one of the Premier League’s flagship performers next season considering how important counter-attacking has become. It’s been a vital part of Chelsea’s philosophy under Antonio Conte this season, which perhaps explains why the 28-year-old topped our poll.