At 3:00 PM ET on Thursday, we will be playing Manchester United (200130) minus the goal-line versus Chelsea (200129). THE SITUATION: Man United (W21-D6-L9) has won two matches in a row after their 1-0 win against Bournemouth on Saturday. Chelsea (W11-D10-L15) comes off a 1-0 loss to Man City on Sunday.
REASONS TO TAKE THE RED DEVILS MINUS THE GOAL-LINE: Man United needs one more point in their final two matches to secure a top-four finish in the English Premier League table which qualifies them for the UEFA Champions League next year. But manager Erik ten Hag would prefer to get this accomplishment out of the way as soon as possible so he can rest players in the final EPL match of the season to prepare for the FA Cup final coming up against Man City. The squad looks to get back their leading scorer Marcus Rashford for this match as well with him in training this week after missing time with a leg injury. Rashford might have played in the match against Bournemouth but he then got ill which delayed his return to the pitch. Man United has been tough to beat at home at Old Trafford this season where they have won 13 of their 17 EPL matches while losing only one time. They have a +17.2 expected net goal differential at home as compared to their -4.3 expected net goal differential on the road in league play. The Red Devils have not allowed a goal at home in EPL play since early February with five victories amongst those six clean sheets. Chelsea has nothing to play for with their current standing in 12 place — they are safe from relegation but can not qualify for any European tournaments next year. Disarray with the ownership contributed to some questionable transfer signings of overrated past-their-prime talent. Unsurprisingly, the predictable injury bug followed. Mason Mount, Ben Chilwell, N’Golo Kante, Reese James, and Mateo Kovacic headline their long injured list — and now Benoit Badiashile joins that group with the defender suffering a groin injury that could keep him sidelined for months. The team is on their third manager this season with Frank Lampard agreeing to serve as a short-term caretaker after Graham Potter was sacked on April 6th. While Lampard was a legendary player for the Blues, he was a miserable failure for the franchise as their manager several seasons ago — and he then was ineffective as the manager for Everton before getting fired earlier in the year. Predictably, the players have not responded to Lampard’s temporary reinstatement with the team. Since he has taken over, Chelsea is third worst in the league with seven losses and only three points in nine matches. Their lone results were a win against 15th-place Bournemouth and a draw at home to 16th-place Nottingham Forest. The defense has been atrocious under Lampard with the team allowing 1.43 expected goals per match and 2.9 Big Chances per match under his second tenure. The Blues have not produced a clean sheet since he took over. Chelsea is the poster child for a team with their minds focused on the proverbial beach before former Tottenham and Paris Saint-Germain manager Mauricio Pochettino takes over to begin fixing the many problems with this squad.
FINAL TAKE: These two teams had a 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge back when Thomas Tuchel was still managing this Blues team that had higher aspirations. Chelsea ranks fourth to the bottom of the league in points generated on the road. Beating the Blues always gives Man United motivation. 25* English Premier League Match of the Year with Manchester United (200130) minus the goal-line versus Chelsea (200129). Best of luck for us — Frank.