Manchester United entertain Chelsea on Wednesday night in what looks like a crucial game for Erik ten Hag and his troops.
Neither side is in flowing form but Chelsea have shown flashes of potential this season and will hope to cement their progress under Mauricio Pochettino with a noteworthy win at Old Trafford.
However, they will have to do so without captain Conor Gallagher who was sent off in the weekend win against Brighton at Stamford Bridge.
Gallagher has been a key cog in the Pochettino’s midfield wheel since the Argentine’s arrival in the summer and his absence will be a blow to visitors.
The 23-year-old has been almost ever-present for The Blues this season and stands as their most creative player, registering four assists in the league.
Christopher Nkunku is back in training for the away side and could replace Gallagher in the attacking-midfield role with Cole Palmer as another option.
In the red corner, United have midfield issues of their own with a trio of first-team players still unavailable from Ten Hag’s engine room.
18-year-old Kobbie Mainoo has emerged as an important player for United and despite only making two Premier League appearances, looks the most comfortable in possession of all Ten Hag’s available options.
Sofyan Amrabat is yet to put his stamp on United’s midfield and Scott McTominay’s form continues to be up and down but one of the two will start on Wednesday.
As ever, captain Bruno Fernandes will be United’s creative force and will need to be at his best against Chelsea’s mega-money duo of Moises Caicedo and Enzo Fernandez.
Should United win the game they will move eight points clear of their big-spending opponents despite not being at their best since the start of the campaign.