There is a bonus Premier League match on Thursday evening when two of the biggest teams in the country meet in a clash which would usually mean a lot more than it does when Manchester United host Chelsea at Old Trafford.
Chelsea are looking good for the top four whereas Manchester United need a sporting miracle to make it into the elite band ahead of next season but a win here would at least keep them in the discussion even if it is only as a bit part reference.
Where to watch
The match will be shown live and in full on the Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Premier League channels with the build-up beginning at 7pm ahead of the Old Trafford kick off at 7.45pm.
The demise of Manchester United has been clear for all to see with our own eyes over the last five years or so but it has increased in profile and speed over the course of this season and they aren’t far off becoming a bit of a shambles. So many bad decisions have been made in the last 18 months it is untrue and if there is a play for a playing style and philosophy it certainly isn’t too apparent on the pitch. You sense that this is a club that needs the season to end quickly so the rebuild can begin.
United go into this match having lost three of their last four matches with the respite in between being a 3-2 win over Norwich City in which they were anything but convincing. Their defence has been an issue all season but it has completely fallen apart in recent times with nine goals against them in their last three matches. If there is some comfort then they have at least been scoring goals themselves but that is scant consolation you would think.
Chelsea will head to Old Trafford with seven wins in their last nine matches in the Premier League but the two defeats in that time have come in their last four outings and although they won at the weekend there wasn’t a great deal about the 1-0 win over West Ham which was convincing. The same can be said of the victory over Newcastle which preceded that so the Blues need a display which is worthy of being the third best side in the league.
They can take comfort from the fact that they are away from home here. Their form on their travels is a whole lot better than it is at Stamford Bridge this term. They have won their last four away from home which includes a 6-0 battering of Southampton last away game. Chelsea certainly don’t lack for goals but they have a few defensive players missing in this match which is less than ideal. Nevertheless, a win here will send them into May and the build up to the cup final in good spirits.
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Manchester United are missing a number of players for this match with a knee injury adding Harry Maguire to the list of Fred, Paul Pogba, Luke Shaw, Edinson Cavani and Jadon Sancho as players who are out. Aaron Wan-Bissaka is a doubt as well but Cristiano Ronaldo is available.
Chelsea are hoping to have both Antonio Rudiger and Reece James with them when they head to Old Trafford but they won’t be able to call upon Ross Barkley nor Mateo Kovacic. Jorginho might be dropped after his horrendous penalty miss on Sunday.
I’m expecting goals in this match. Chelsea flourish on their travels and score goals for fun while this United defence is flaky at the best of times let alone when it could be missing three of its regular starters. You would imagine one of the aims of Manchester United between now and the end of the season is to give something back to their fans in terms of entertainment from an attacking point of view, especially at home.
You would imagine Chelsea will dominate a lot of the ball in this match and that means they’ll descend on this Manchester United defence at regular intervals but United should still have the attacking players to hit on the counterattack in the likes of Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford among others. You can get 4/5 on there being more than 2.5 goals in this match and I expect that to land here.
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