Needing just the one point to guarantee Champions League football for the 2023-24 season, Manchester United’s final Premier League home game of the season takes place on Thursday, as Chelsea makes the trek to Old Trafford.
The Red Devils are on the brink of sealing a top-four finish thanks to their 1-0 win over Bournemouth last weekend, while the mid-table Blues lost by the same scoreline to newly-crowned champions Manchester City.
- As well as their known plethora of absentees, Man United were forced to cope without Marcus Rashford for the second week running against Bournemouth. The Englishman missed out against Wolverhampton Wanderers with a leg injury before coming down with a bug.
- Rashford is expected to fight off his illness in time to start at Old Trafford. But all of Lisandro Martinez (foot), Tom Heaton (ankle), Donny van de Beek (knee), Marcel Sabitzer (knee) and the departing Phil Jones (knee) will watch on from the sidelines.
- With Rashford fit and firing, Anthony Martial will be expected to make way after his sour reaction to being substituted against Bournemouth. The Red Devils head coach should name his strongest lineup on Thursday before potentially resting players against Fulham if their top-four spot is rubber-stamped.
- Meanwhile, Chelsea’s perennial injury problems are not letting up as the season draws to a close. The Blues have suffered a devastating blow with defender Benoit Badiashile, who could supposedly be facing a few months out with a groin problem sustained in training last week.
- Mason Mount (pelvic), Ben Chilwell (thigh), Armando Broja (knee), N’Golo Kante (groin), Marc Cucurella (thigh), Marcus Bettinelli (unspecified) and Reece James (thigh) also take up beds in the well-occupied Chelsea treatment room, and it remains to be seen if Mateo Kovacic will be given the green light to play on Thursday. On a brighter note, Kalidou Koulibaly was fit enough to come off the bench on Sunday following a thigh issue.
- Having been left relatively satisfied with his side’s display at the Etihad, Lampard may want to keep changes to a minimum, but Carney Chukwuemeka will no doubt be pushing for a starting role after he was blocked from joining up with the England squad for the Under-20 World Cup.
Manchester United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Lindelof, Shaw; Casemiro, Eriksen; Antony, Fernandes, Sancho; Rashford
Chelsea: Kepa; Chalobah, Silva, Fofana; Azpilicueta, Fernandez, Loftus-Cheek, Hall; Gallagher; Havertz, Sterling
Chelsea certainly deserve credit for holding Man City to just the one goal at the weekend, but the Citizens’ weakened team and title celebrations may have played a part in that, and prolonged inconsistencies in the final third should prove costly at Old Trafford.
With Man United proving to be an incredibly stingy defensive unit in front of their own fans, Ten Hag’s side should have no problem ending their spate of draws in this fixture to return to the promised land of the Champions League.
Our prediction is Manchester United 2-1 Chelsea