Former Arsenal forward Paul Merson believes that Chelsea should start Olivier Giroud up front against Manchester United at Old Trafford as then they can use Eden Hazard in his rightful position behind the striker.
Jose Mourinho managed to neutralise Hazard last season in the corresponding fixture by putting Ander Herrera on him. However, with the Spaniard now out injured, Merson believes Giroud's hold-up play up front would help Hazard get into a rhythm in midfield and orchestrate play like he is usually capable of.
Herrera suffered a leg muscle injury in United's Champions League last-16 first-leg clash against Sevilla on Wednesday, 21 February. The Spaniard limped off after just 17 minutes and United boss Jose Mourinho confirmed that he will be out for a few weeks at the very least.
Mourinho also has a decision to make regarding Paul Pogba, who was dropped from the starting line-up in United's game against Sevilla in mid-week. The manager chose youngster Scott McTominay to marshal the midfield, which apparently did not go down too well with Pogba.
Given the current dynamic in the United midfield, Merson is of the opinion that playing Giroud would be a good ploy.
"When Chelsea went to Man United last year, Herrera did a job on Hazard," Merson said on Sky Sports, as quoted by the Express. "He followed him everywhere. Now I think Herrera's injured, he came off the other night. Now, if he was playing, I think they would have played with a false No. 9.
"I think Hazard would have gone up and gone to Herrera, 'Come on then, you come with me now.' Then bring him back and probably Chelsea would win the midfield then. I think you have to go with Giroud up front, I think you have to.
"One, he's proven. Two, he'll hold the ball up, he gives you that option as well at set plays. I just think it will keep on bouncing back and they'll be a flow of football. Chelsea had to do a lot of running the other day, Barcelona had the ball for a lot of the game and that's tiring.
"For me, I think Giroud plays in this game, in my opinion."