Manchester United will qualify for the Champions League if they avoid defeat by Chelsea in Thursday’s rearranged fixture.
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Manchester United vs Chelsea predictions
Manchester United are on the brink of achieving their principal goal for the season.
One more point will secure a top-four finish for Erik ten Hag’s team, who are currently three clear of Liverpool with a game in hand.
United will be keen to get the job done on Thursday, but this weekend’s clash with Fulham serves as an insurance of sorts.
A 1-0 victory over Bournemouth last time out – together with Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with Aston Villa – has left the Red Devils close to sealing a return to the Champions League.
It is well known that United have not won the Premier League title since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013. But nor have they troubled Europe’s elite in that time.
United have been in and out of the Champions League throughout the post-Ferguson era. They have only reached the last eight of that competition twice in the last 12 years.
That is a hugely disappointing record for a club that has been crowned continental champions on three occasions.
Tottenham Hotspur, who do not have as rich a history as the Red Devils, have qualified for the quarter-finals as often as United since 2010.
Given that Inter are in the Champions League final this term, there is no reason why Ten Hag’s side cannot make a mark in next season’s edition of the tournament.
Before that, they must secure qualification by avoiding defeat in at least one of their two remaining home games.
Manchester United vs Chelsea betting tips
Manchester United can secure a top-four berth in style by seeing off Chelsea at Old Trafford.
Manchester United to win to nil – 2/1 (Spreadex)
Chelsea must wish this dismal campaign was already over.
Hardly anything has gone right for the Blues in 2022/23 and there are no major positives for them to take into the summer.
Todd Boehly, the co-owner and chairman, must take a large share of the blame. His transfer policy has been haphazard at best. Chelsea have spent close to £600m on new players but have only got worse.
Yet it is still surprising that a squad containing so much talent is currently in 12th place. Chelsea will be the lowest-ranked Premier League side from west London this season, behind Brentford and Fulham – two clubs with much less in the way of financial resources.
Many of the issues at Stamford Bridge predate Frank Lampard’s appointment as interim manager. But the statistics show that Chelsea have regressed on his watch.
Since Lampard’s return in early April, only two teams in the top flight have worse records than the Blues.
Chelsea have lost seven of their nine matches under Lampard in all competitions, which is why it is hard to see them springing a surprise here.
What’s more, they have the fourth-worst attacking record in 2022/23 and are facing a team that has conceded a league-low eight goals at home this term.
Under 2.5 goals – 5/4 (Spreadex)
Manchester United’s overall home record this season is excellent. Only Manchester City have averaged more points per game in front of their own fans. United at Old Trafford have outperformed Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium and Liverpool at Anfield.
Moreover, they have not lost at home since going down 2-1 to Brighton & Hove Albion on the opening weekend.
Their success on familiar turf has been built on a rock-solid backline. As mentioned above, United have conceded just eight goals at Old Trafford.
Ten Hag has had to deal with a number of defensive injuries this year, with Lisandro Martinez still sidelined and Raphael Varane having also spent a few weeks on the treatment table.
But United have remained tough to play against at Old Trafford, where the supporters are now fully behind the team.
Given that a point will do for United, we will probably see a controlled and measured performance on Thursday. There is no need for the home team to go gung-ho in search of a statement victory.
Chelsea’s struggles to put the ball in the back of the net mean this is likely to be a low-scoring encounter. One goal will probably be enough for United to register their 22nd victory of the season.
Marcus Rashford to score any time – 11/10 (Spreadex)
Marcus Rashford has been one of Manchester United’s standout performers this season.
The England international has suffered with injury and illness over the last couple of weeks, but he is expected to be restored to the starting XI for the visit of Chelsea on Thursday.
United missed Rashford against Bournemouth. Casemiro put them ahead early on, but the visitors to the Vitality Stadium otherwise lacked a ruthless edge in front of goal.
United have heavily relied upon their academy product in the final third this season. He has scored 16 times in the Premier League. United’s next top goal-getter is Bruno Fernandes with six.
Rashford was in sensational form after the World Cup break until the end of February, but the goals have dried up a little in recent months.
Nevertheless, we fancy his chances of finding the back of the net in United’s penultimate match of the campaign.
How to watch Manchester United vs Chelsea
- Location: Old Trafford, Manchester, England.
- Date and time: Thursday 25 May 2023, 8pm.
- How to watch: Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Premier League.
About the author
Greg Lea is a freelance football writer from London. He predominantly covers the Premier League and has had work published by the Guardian, FourFourTwo, ESPN and others.
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