Thibaut Courtois has failed to recover from an ankle injury in time for Chelsea’s crunch Premier League clash against Manchester United, while the Red Devils have surprisingly benched Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Belgium goalkeeper Courtois reportedly injured himself in training in the build-up to the match, which has added impetus for the league leaders after Tottenham cut the gap at the top to four points by battering Bournemouth on Saturday.
It is the first time this season that Courtois – who has been linked with a move to Real Madrid in the upcoming transfer window – has not started a Premier League fixture for Antonio Conte’s side and means Asmir Begovic will deputise in his place at Old Trafford.
Chelsea were dealt a further blow when Marcos Alonso was injured in the pre-match warm-up, the Spaniard walking down the tunnel feeling the back of his left thigh, and was replaced in the starting line-up by Kurt Zouma.
Chelsea team today: Begovic; Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Cahill (c); Moses, Kante, Matic, Alonso; Pedro, Diego Costa, Hazard. #MUNCHE
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) April 16, 2017
Jose Mourinho has opted to make four changes from the midweek Europa League draw against Anderlecht for the match against his former side, the most surprising of which sees top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic drop to the bench with Marcus Rashford – who started out wide versus Anderlecht – given the nod up front.
Sweden great Ibrahimovic noted after the Anderlecht game that he was “tired” and is seemingly being rested ahead of this week’s return tie.
David De Gea returns in goal for Sergio Romero, while Marouane Fellaini, Ander Herrera and Ashley Young come are also included, with Michael Carrick and Henrikh Mkhitaryan dropping to the bench.
Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial are not in the squad.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) April 16, 2017