Date: Sunday 28th April 2019
Venue: Old Trafford
Kick-off: 16:30 BST
This afternoon’s game is being labelled ‘the race for fourth place’ although this season has been more of a sponsored walk than a race for both of today’s sides. None of your Mo Farah-type sprints for these two sides, instead, we look more like we’ve steered off course from today’s London marathon, last over the finish line in a clown costume and big slippers – and that’ll just be our second half.
After an awful game against Everton, United come into this game off the back of another defeat, although to be fair, Solskjaer managed to get them looking at least reasonably ok against a much better City side last time out. Maurizio Sarri however, again failed to motivate his players against Burnley on Monday night as we limped to a draw instead of capitalising on the weekend’s results. So at the start of today, Chelsea are fourth, still three points behind Tottenham after their defeat to West Ham yesterday, a point above Arsenal (before their early game) and three above United.
If Sarri and Chelsea get it wrong again today, we’ll almost certainly finish outside of the top four and only winning the Europa League would see us qualify for the Champions League – and that looks increasingly unlikely. For Manchester United likewise, defeat will see them miss out on a top four place. So given their need for the points and our all too predictable failure to sustain a game for more than 45 minutes, if we don’t get up a head of steam in the first half, Sarri’s red card last week will seem like a goodwill gesture compared to what he’d be up against at full-time today.
Going into today’s game, Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says “The total points is 70 in average for the last five seasons, we’re now on 64, so that’s where we’re at, that is the reality that we are in now, where we’ve been in the last five seasons and that’s not good enough. That’s not down to the last six, seven or eight games, that’s where we are at the moment and we have a great challenge ahead of us to get us up challenging again.”
Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri meanwhile, says “‘It’s a very important match… We will try to win of course, but we need not to lose. We have to play against opponents with a very high level of motivation after the Manchester derby. They have a chance of the top four. Of course they need to win all the last three matches. But we need to gain points too. We need to fight and try in every way.”
For Manchester United, Phil Jones and Scott McTominay missed are doubtful although Ander Herrera (hamstring) could return.
For Chelsea, Callum Hudson-Odoi (Achilles) is out for the rest of the season, N’Golo Kante is a doubt (rib) although Antonio Rudiger (knee), who wasn’t subjected to Burnley’s tactics, is available.
MANCHESTER UNITED (Possible line-up): De Gea; Young, Smalling, Lindelof, Shaw; Herrera, Matic, Pogba; Lingard; Rashford, Lukaku
CHELSEA (Possible line-up): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Emerson; Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic; Pedro, Willian, Hazard
Manchester United 2-1 Chelsea (25th February 2018)
CURRENT FORM (PL)
MANCHESTER UNITED: LWLWLL
- Manchester United can win three consecutive top-flight home games against Chelsea for the first time since 1957.
- Chelsea have won 18 Premier League matches against United.
- Chelsea’s six Premier League wins at Old Trafford have come under six different bosses but none of them were quite like Sarri.
- United have lost seven of their past nine competitive games.
- Manchester United have failed to score in their last three fixtures.
- Manchester United have played 527 minutes in all competitions since their last goal from open play.
- Manchester United have gone 12 matches in all competitions without a clean sheet.
- Chelsea have lost six of their seven Premier League fixtures away to sides in the top half of the table this season.
- Chelsea have won just two of 11 top-flight games this season after conceding the opening goal, with both victories coming against Cardiff.
BBC Sport: Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea
Sky Sports: Manchester United 2-1 Chelsea
Sportsmole: Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea