Predicted Man United XI v Chelsea: Defenders still out, midfield swap only change from midweek win

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Manchester United will be looking to continue their recent improvement and close the gap on the Champions League places in this afternoon’s trip to Chelsea.

The Red Devils battered Stoke City 3-0 at Old Trafford in midweek for a second successive victory, and seem to be playing with more attacking vigour than previous weeks.

Will they continue to show that adventure against the Blues, or go back into their shell? Here, CaughtOffside predicts Louis van Gaal’s starting lineup…

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GK: David de Gea

The midweek win over Stoke was his first home clean sheet since December’s 0-0 draw with Chelsea.

RB: Matteo Darmian

The Italian international is back in the side after a difficult couple of months with form and fitness.

CB: Chris Smalling

His battle with the new-and-improved Diego Costa could go a long way to deciding the outcome.

CB: Daley Blind

One cannot feel that the technically-gifted Dutchman is slightly wasted at centre-back, but that is where Van Gaal needs him now, with injuries still sidelining Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo.

Daley Blind Man United v Derby

LB: Cameron Borthwick-Jackson

Is gradually growing into the senior team. Produced his best performance to date against the Potters.

CM: Michael Carrick

It is no surprise that a noticeable difference in United’s attacking tempo has coincided with Carrick’s return to the team. He moves the ball forward and quicker than United’s other midfielders.

CM: Morgan Schneiderlin

Marouane Fellaini has been enjoying a decent run in the side as a holding midfielder, but Van Gaal may revert to Schneiderlin and his greater defensive awareness for the trip to Stamford Bridge.

Morgan Schneiderlin

AMR: Jesse Lingard

Scored his second goal in four games to start the Stoke stroll. Should be considered an outsider for Roy Hodgson’s England squad for Euro 2016 if he continues this form until the end of the season.

AMC: Juan Mata

The Spaniard has benefitted from Lingard’s return and thus being moved into his favoured central position. His touch and pass in the build-up to Anthony Martial’s midweek goal was absolutely sublime.

AML: Anthony Martial

The Frenchman has been untouchable in the last two games and will be United’s main attacking threat.

ST: Wayne Rooney

Has seven goals in his last seven matches – as good a form as he has shown in several years.

Man United lineup v Chelsea

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More Stories Anthony Martial Cameron Borthwick-Jackson Chris Smalling daley blind David de Gea Jesse Lingard Juan Mata Louis van Gaal Matteo Darmian Michael Carrick morgan schneiderlin Wayne Rooney