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Wayne Rooney may play in midfield: How will Chelsea, Manchester United line up?

Britain Soccer Premier League

Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney celebrates after scoring during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester United and Hull City at Old Trafford Stadium, Manchester, England, Saturday Nov. 29, 2014. (AP Photo/Jon Super)


Ahead of the massive Chelsea vs. Manchester United match on Saturday at Stamford Bridge (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via Live Extra) both teams have some tricky selections issues.

[ VIDEO: Top Chelsea-United moments ]

United boss Louis van Gaal revealed he will be without four key players for the game at the Premier League leaders, and that skipper Wayne Rooney could play as an emergency holding midfielder. As for Chelsea, Jose Mourinho is without top scorer Diego Costa and is sweating on the fitness of Loic Remy to fill-in up top.

Here’s a look at how both teams might line up on Saturday in west London.

Chelsea (4-2-3-1)
----- Courtois -----

--- Ivanovic --- Terry --- Cahill --- Azpilicueta ---

----- Matic ----- Fabregas -----

--- Willian --- Oscar --- Hazard ---

----- Remy -----

Mourinho doesn’t have too many difficult decisions to make but the only real conundrum is who will come in for Costa up top. Remy is recovering from injury and the PL leaders only have veteran forward Didier Drogba as another option to come in up top. Drogba scored away at Old Trafford in a 1-1 draw earlier this season, so maybe he can do the business again? If Remy is fit he has to start but apart from that, a 4-2-3-1 formation with Fabregas and Matic in the middle looks good for the Blues.

Manchester United (4-1-4-1)
----- De Gea -----

--- Valencia --- Smalling --- McNair --- Shaw ---

------- Herrera -------

--- Young --- Rooney --- Fellaini --- Mata ---

----- Van Persie ----

United’s defensive stockpile has been decimated by injuries as Phil Jones, Daley Blind, Marcos Rojo and Michael Carrick will all be missing for the trip to Chelsea. Their bruising derby win against Man City came at a cost but Robin van Persie has trained this week and if he can start the game, he must lead the line. Van Gaal has talked about Rooney playing in the holding midfield role. That seems a little too drastic and will take away a huge part of United’s offensive creativity, slot him into the playmaking role instead. I would sacrifice Ander Herrera and tell him to drop in to be the lone holding midfielder in a 4-1-4-1 formation. The Spaniard will have to show plenty of discipline but his team needs him to do it.

Van Gaal has options if RVP isn’t fit with the likes of Angel di Maria and Adnan Januzaj in reserve. It’s just at the back where the Red Devils’ look a little shaky as young Paddy McNair and the fit-again Luke Shaw will be called upon after lengthy spells out. Their six-game winning streak could end at Chelsea, but van Gaal’s boys should go all-out attack. What have they got to lose?

Follow @JPW_NBCSports