For one of football’s iconic fixtures, third-placed Chelsea take on Manchester United, who are sixth, at Old Trafford. Most seasons between 2004 and 2013 this was a title decider but tonight’s contestants are, sadly, some way off that status.
This evening’s fixture, Chelsea’s 57th game of the season and Man United’s 46th, was brought forward because of the Londoners’ participation in the FA Cup final. The Thursday setting makes the Red Devils the first Premier League opposition the Blues have faced on each of the seven days of the week.
Since Chelsea’s 3-1 FA Cup semi-final victory at Wembley in 2020 the pair have drawn three successive Premier League meetings, two of them 0-0s. Victory tonight would ensure the Londoners finish above the Mancunians in the table for the first time since 2018/19, when this fixture, played on the same date, ended 1-1.
The Blues have not secured all three points in this corner of Manchester in eight attempts, although five were drawn, and against all comers the Red Devils are unbeaten in seven at Old Trafford. That said, the current average of 1.82 points per home game is Man United’s worst throughout the Premier League era in all but three seasons.
Tuchel’s team are 10 points better off than at the same stage last season. Victory tonight would open an eight-point gap ahead of Arsenal in fourth and close the door to next season’s Champions League on the Old Trafford club.
Chelsea team news
‘We arrive to win,’ Thomas Tuchel told reporters yesterday, a target Chelsea have not hit at Old Trafford since a late Juan Mata winner in 2013. The Blues are in fine fettle on our travels, though, scoring two goals or more in each of the past three away matches.
It will be the Bavarian’s first experience of the Man United stadium with Chelsea, but he has a 100 per cent record there with previous club PSG. His side also arrive in the North-West on the back of a crucial win against West Ham at the Bridge and an improved second-half performance.
Three late substitutions helped: match-winner Christian Pulisic (with his fifth in the top flight this season), Hakim Ziyech, urgent and mobile, and a battling Romelu Lukaku rolling his defender to earn Jorginho’s missed penalty. That was the Italy midfielder’s first club miss since Boxing Day 2020 – but he delivered from the spot against Man United at the Bridge.
Toni Rudiger and Reece James are restored to the squad. Trevoh Chalobah, who recorded 96 per cent passing accuracy against the Hammers, may retain the right centre-back role. Ruben Loftus-Cheek could return from wing-back to a midfield role as Mateo Kovacic is still sidelined. At his best, the 26-year-old can drive through the lines to create openings and panic in an opposition rearguard.
Tras la frustrante derrota del pasado sábado ante Arsenal en Londres, el conjunto de Ralf Rangnick buscará volver a sumar de a tres por primera vez desde mediados de abril, cuando reciba a Chelsea por una nueva fecha de la Premier League.
Pese al regreso de Raphaël Varane, Scott McTominay y Cristiano Ronaldo, que jugaron los 90 minutos ante los Gunners en el Emirates Stadium, el entrenador contará con varias bajas en el Teatro de los Sueños.