Man Utd vs Chelsea – Analysis, Prediction, Team News
Thursday 25th May 2023
As part of our midweek Premier League predictions, we take a look at Chelsea’s visit to Old Trafford. A draw is good enough to secure Champions League football next season for Man Utd – can they get it? Free betting tips and more with our Man Utd vs Chelsea prediction.
Man Utd vs Chelsea Preview
With the Premier League campaign drawing to a close, Manchester United require just one point from their final two matches to secure Champions League football for next season. Given their poor start to the campaign, it’s undeniable that Erik ten Hag’s men weren’t considered to be serious candidates for that particular honour. It’s fair to say that performances have been mixed, and a squad which is short on strength in depth has been tested to the limit as a result of going deep in both cup competitions and the Europa League.
There was evidence of this again in their match at the Vitality Stadium against Bournemouth. United were much the brighter of the two teams for the first half an hour or so – they passed the ball well and created some decent chances, but faded towards the end of the first half and allowed Bournemouth back into the game. They proved unable to kill the game off in the second half, but overall they were reasonable value for the three points against a team that has, until recently at least, been much more difficult to play against following the World Cup break.
It’s a reflection of Chelsea’s decline that they weren’t seriously expected to get anything against a heavily rotated Manchester City team. However, they did put in one of their better recent performances, but lacked a clinical edge and thus were unable to get themselves back into the match after City’s fast start. City had the frame of the goal to thank for keeping out Conor Gallagher’s back post header, and a goalline clearance from John Stones kept Raheem Sterling out.
It’s fair to say that Chelsea would like this season to be over and done with as soon as possible. With even a top-half finish no longer attainable, at this point, they’re essentially playing for pride. They were able to create several clear opportunities against an under-strength Manchester City side but often looked blunt in attack. Raheem Sterling was guilty in particular of squandering chances, and despite grabbing two goals against Nottingham Forest in the previous match has now lost his place in Gareth Southgate’s latest England squad.
Injuries and Suspensions
Might Not Play: Heaton, Rashford
Will Not Play: Jones, Martinez, Sabitzer, Van de Beek
Might Not Play: Kovacic
Will Not Play: Badiashile, Bettinelli, Broja, Chilwell, Cucurella, James, Kante, Mount
Man Utd vs Chelsea Lineups (Predicted)
Man Utd (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Shaw, Varane, Lindelof, Wan-Bissaka; Casemiro, Eriksen; Rashford, Fernandes, Antony; Martial
Chelsea (3-4-1-2): Arrizabalaga; Chalobah, Silva, Fofana; Hall, Fernandez, Loftus-Cheek, Azpilicueta; Gallagher; Sterling, Havertz
Man Utd vs Chelsea Analysis
United Will Look to Protect Any Lead
There is something of a pattern to Manchester United’s performances over the last few months. As certain players have played rather punishing minutes, combined with a condensed fixture calendar, United tend to start well and then fade during the course of the match. This isn’t a situation that’s unique to United, but it’s perhaps a criticism of Erik ten Hag that the side isn’t rotated quite as much as it needs to be. Whether that’s an issue with the quality of bench players available to them or an insistence that their best players play in every game, the result is the same.
Therefore, in keeping with their recent performances, we expect that United will have the upper hand for at least the first half an hour or so. They’ll likely be able to limit Chelsea’s blunt attack to mostly half chances and have them sending in crosses hoping that somebody will get on the end of one. Despite Chelsea’s lowly league position and generally awful form, they’re proficient at keeping the ball and United will most likely allow them to do so in front of their midfield.
United will look to attack Chelsea rapidly in transition, particularly in wide areas behind Chelsea’s wingbacks. If they’re able to get in front in the first half, we expect that they’ll concentrate on shutting the game down while still posing a considerable threat upon regaining possession. It makes sense for a tired United squad to approach the game like this, as Chelsea are unlikely to hurt United without having the space to work with – they’re just not a particularly creative team.
Chelsea Will Move the Ball Quicker Where Possible
With the obvious caveat that they were facing a severely under-strength Manchester City team, Chelsea were able to repeatedly create promising attacking situations in transition by playing the early ball and looking to attack in as direct a manner as possible. They’ll need to do so here again – if they prioritise keeping the ball and probing patiently for opportunities to open United up then they most likely won’t succeed. They’ve scored 36 goals all season with a possession-based style of football and frankly, they’ve not been dangerous with it under three different coaches.
It’s possible that they may have learned a few lessons from that Manchester City game and that they can implement them against a Manchester United side that is almost certain to tire as the game goes on. In the second half in recent months, United have been exploited where teams have looked to stretch the play and have been able to support these attacking situations in numbers.
United have played 13 matches in 48 days – a game every 3.69 days. They don’t rotate much, and they tend to make late substitutions. Is it any wonder why they’ve been the worst team in terms of expected goals (xG) in the second half of most of those matches? We accept that xG isn’t always the best indicator of the better team but we feel it happens often enough to prove our point. Chelsea most likely will be able to create more in the second half.
We can envisage United getting over the line in this one. Firstly, their home record is vastly superior to Chelsea’s terrible away record this season, and Chelsea have scored less than a goal per game away from Stamford Bridge. This doesn’t mean that Chelsea can’t ask questions of this United team, particularly as United will inevitably (according to the last 6 or 7 weeks) tire and give up opportunities if Chelsea are up to taking them.
If Chelsea weren’t quite so blunt and wasteful in attack we could see them getting a point. It’d still be enough for United to qualify for the Champions League of course. However, Chelsea seem to need several clear chances to score, and while United do flag in games late on we think by that point they’ll have too much to do.
Man Utd 2-1 Chelsea
Man Utd vs Chelsea Betting Tip – Man Utd Odds:
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