On Thursday, Chelsea travels to Old Trafford for Manchester United’s final Premier League home game of the season. The Red Devils need only one point to secure Champions League football for the 2023–24 season.
Thanks to their 1-0 victory against Bournemouth last weekend, the Red Devils are poised to finish in the top four, while the mid-table Blues were defeated by newly crowned champions Manchester City by the same margin.
While one Brazilian, Roberto Firmino, was able to keep Liverpool’s dreams of competing in the Champions League alive in the Reds’ draw with Aston Villa, Casemiro, another Brazilian, came up with an individual moment of brilliance to keep Man United in the driver’s seat at the Vitality Stadium for a top-four finish.
Despite the criticism he has faced this season, David de Gea posted his 17th league clean sheet of the year to win the Golden Glove, and Erik ten Hag is on the brink of accomplishing his overarching goal in his first season at Old Trafford. The midfielder’s spectacular bicycle kick ended an otherwise understated game on the South Coast.
The fourth-placed Red Devils, who are three points ahead of Liverpool with a game remaining, will guarantee themselves a spot in the Champions League for next season if they win on Thursday, but if they lose, they will have a second chance against Fulham on Sunday. Manchester City, Arsenal, and Newcastle United will also be present.
Ten Hag will undoubtedly attempt to secure a top-four position on Thursday before focusing on their FA Cup final matchup with arch rivals Manchester City.
In fact, the Red Devils have only let up eight goals at the Theatre of Dreams in the 2022–23 top flight, winning each of their past four games without conceding, and maintaining six consecutive clean sheets. This does not bode well for a Chelsea team that is afraid to score.
Pep Guardiola fielded a backup squad to face Chelsea since Arsenal’s loss to Nottingham Forest on Saturday had already established Man City as the winners. However, Frank Lampard’s injuries were unable to dampen the Citizens’ celebrations.
Lampard was able to maintain a positive demeanour following the game as he praised Chelsea for showing signs of improvement. However, improvement did not translate into points, and the Blues head into Thursday’s match languishing in 12th place in the standings and still in danger of dropping as low as 14th in their final two games.
Chelsea can only finish the troubled season in 11th place, which is currently held by Crystal Palace, who have a one-point advantage after playing one more game. Additionally, the London club’s dismal record of just two wins in their last 13 Premier League away games will not help their chances of finding redemption in Manchester.
However, the last five meetings between Man United and Chelsea have all miraculously ended level, with the match in October at Stamford Bridge ending 1-1 for the third time in a row. The Red Devils haven’t defeated the Blues since the pre-COVID days of February 2020, but a sixth consecutive draw would be enough for Ten Hag’s team to eat at Europe’s top table.
Team News- Manchester United
Man United had to manage without Marcus Rashford against Bournemouth in addition to their well-known abundance of absentees; the Englishman missed out against Wolverhampton Wanderers with a leg injury before being sick.
While Lisandro Martinez (foot), Tom Heaton (ankle), Donny van de Beek (knee), Marcel Sabitzer (knee), and outgoing Phil Jones (knee) will all watch from the sidelines, Rashford is anticipated to recover from his sickness in time to start at Old Trafford.
After his negative reaction to being replaced against Bournemouth, which Ten Hag downplayed following the game, Anthony Martial will be expected to make way, and the head coach of the Red Devils should start his strongest lineup on Thursday before possibly resting participants against Fulham if their top-four spot is assured.
Team News- Chelsea
Chelsea’s ongoing injury issues are continuing as the season comes to a conclusion, as the Blues have suffered a severe blow with defender Benoit Badiashile, who may need to miss several months of action due to a groyne injury received last week in practice.
In the crowded Chelsea treatment area, beds are also occupied by Mason Mount (pelvic), Ben Chilwell, Armando Broja, N’Golo Kante , Marc Cucurella, Marcus Bettinelli (unspecified), and Reece James. It is unclear whether Mateo Kovacic will be cleared to play on Thursday. The good news is that Kalidou Koulibaly, who had a thigh problem, was healthy enough to play on Sunday.
Manchester United 2-1 Chelsea