Premier League has reached its penultimate matchday as it draws to a close with Manchester City lifting the trophy last weekend. Though the champion has been decided, the rest of the league table still has a few teams vying for crucial positions as Manchester United are yet to confirm their place in the Champions League for next season while the Europa League and Conference League places are also yet to be confirmed. Man United host Chelsea at the Theatre of Dreams in a game which is crucial for the former and is a dead rubber game for the latter as the Blues have nothing left to play for.
Sitting in 12th position, Chelsea are destined to have their worst season in the top flight as they finish outside the top 10 for the first time since the 1993/94 season where they finished 14th. Frank Lampard and Co. have had a very underwhelming campaign but can play a crucial part in spoiling their rivals’ bid for a top 4 spot if they can manage to come away with all 3 points.
Erik Ten Hag’s side requires just a point to confirm Champions League football for next season as they sit in 4th place, 3 points ahead of Liverpool with a game in hand. The Manchester club’s fate in Europe is in their own hands and it promises to be an intriguing battle between the two sides.
When & Where?
Date: 25th May 2023.
Time: 8:00 PM GMT.
Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester.
Referee: Stuart Attwell.
Assistants: Ian Hussin, Richard West.
Fourth official: Anthony Taylor.
VAR: Michael Salisbury.
Assistant VAR: Steve Meredith.
The hosts have been without their star man Marcus Rashford for the last two games as the Englishman is nursing an injury but has returned to training this week. It remains to be seen whether Ten Hag will be willing to risk his fitness and hand him a start or whether he will be named on the bench. United will be without Lisandro Martinez, Phil Jones, Tom Heaton, Donny Van De Beek and Marcel Sabitzer for the game as they are ruled out for the rest of the season. The rest of the starting XI is expected to remain the same as it is a must win game for the Red Devils.
Chelsea had another injury setback this season which has been more or less the story of their season as they lost Benoit Badiashile to injury this week as the French defender is out until the start of next season. He joins Armando Broja, Mason Mount, Marc Cucurella, Ben Chilwell, N’golo Kante, Marcus Bettinelli and Reece James on the list of absentees for the game. Mateo Kovacic has returned to full fitness and could partner Enzo Fernandez in the midfield as Kalidou Koulibaly also made his injury comeback last weekend.
Manchester United have a crucial FA Cup final in just over 10 days and have 2 games to go in that timespan. Ten Hag will want to book his berth in the Champions League against Chelsea and then rest players against Fulham at the weekend to ensure he has a fully fit first team for the FA cup tie as they have a chance to lift another domestic trophy having won the Carabao Cup in February.
Erik Ten Hag will use his usual 4-2-3-1 system with a fluid front 4 looking to match the opposition backline with Casemiro playing as the destroyer in the middle of the park allowing Christian Eriksen to play in a more box-to-box role. Chelsea have been leaky at the back having conceded 9 goals in their last 5 games while winning just once in that run of games.
Lampard’s men yet again succumbed to another defeat last weekend against the champions Manchester City wherein he switched to a back 5 instead of his usual 4-3-3 system. It’ll be interesting to see which system he adopts to play as the performance last week was abysmal particularly in attack as there was no cohesion amongst the attackers with a very defensive setup. The Blues have scored only 6 goals in their last 5 games with half those goals coming against Bournemouth last week. If they are to take anything away from the game, Lampard will have to make sure the team scores.
Manchester United predicted lineup vs Chelsea: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Lindelof, Shaw, Casemiro, Eriksen, Antony, Fernandes, Sancho, Weghorst.
Chelsea predicted lineup vs Manchester United: Mendy, Chalobah, Koulibaly, Fofana, Hall, Enzo, Kovacic, Chukwuemeka, Mudryk, Felix, Madueke.