Manchester United-Chelsea Preview
Erik ten Hag insists Cristiano Ronaldo still has a future at Manchester United, despite dropping the forward for Saturday's Premier League clash with Chelsea.
Ronaldo will play no part at Stamford Bridge due to refusing to come off the bench and then walking down the tunnel before full-time in Wednesday's 2-0 win over Tottenham.
The Portugal international blamed "the heat of the moment" for his actions, but Ten Hag feels it is best he spends time away from the first team to reflect on his actions.
"I'm the manager, I'm responsible for the top sport culture here, and I have to set standards and values and I have to control them," Ten Hag said.
"I set a warning at the start of the season and the next time there has to be a consequence. You have to fulfill certain standards and I have to control it."
As for whether Ronaldo can be a part of United's team in the future, Ten Hag said: "Yes. He remains an important part of the squad."
Ronaldo being banished from the squad is an unwelcome distraction for United, who trail fourth-place Chelsea by a point heading into the game at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea were held to a goalless draw at Brentford in midweek, though they are now seven games without defeat under Graham Potter and have kept five straight clean sheets.
The Blues are already looking a different side to the one left behind by Thomas Tuchel, but Potter expects even more changes over time - for better or worse.
"Six weeks is quite a short time to really get my true and wonderful personality onto a team," he said through a smile.
"The personality is that of the players at the moment. They have understood there is a challenge to be had and they have taken it up.
"They have been brilliant, really honest and responsible. So the personality is all them. You have got to wait for my boring one to emerge!"
Chelsea - Raheem Sterling
Not helped by being played in a variety of positions, including at wing-back, Sterling has not contributed to as many goals and assists since Potter replaced Tuchel last month. He has also not scored in any of his 23 previous appearances against United in all competitions, failing to score from 38 shots, but that run will surely come to an end at some point.
Manchester United - Marcus Rashford
Ronaldo likely would not have started even if he had been part of the squad this weekend, with Antony, Rashford and Jadon Sancho being preferred in the final third. Rashford has gone four games without scoring, but he has been involved in seven goals against Chelsea in his career - only against Arsenal and West Ham (eight) has he fared better.
- Chelsea are winless in their past nine Premier League games against United (D6 L3) - only against Blackburn (12 between 1992 and 1998) and Arsenal (19 between 1995 and 2005) have they ever had a longer winless run in the competition.
- United have won just two of their past 20 Premier League away games against Chelsea (D8 L10), winning 3-2 in October 2012 and 2-0 in February 2020. Indeed, of all Premier League sides they have faced more than twice on the road, their lowest away win rate is against the Blues (20 per cent - 6/30).
- The Red Devils have lost each of their past three Premier League games in London - they last lost more consecutively in the capital in league football between April 1973 and January 1974 (five).
- No Premier League fixture has been drawn as often as Chelsea against United (25). Indeed, six of the past eight meetings between the sides has finished level, including each of the last four in a row.
- Chelsea are unbeaten in their past eight Premier League home games (W5 D3), winning the last three in a row. They last won more consecutively at Stamford Bridge between February and July 2020, under Frank Lampard (six).
Updated October 21, 2022