There’s penultimate-game-of-the-season action in the Premier League on Thursday night, as Manchester United take on Chelsea at Old Trafford (8pm). Can the hosts seal the deal as far as fourth place is concerned ahead of the final weekend? Or will the visitors, who have little to play for, spoil the party? This MUFC vs CFC preview, with betting tips, should clarify.
At the weekend, The Red Devils continued to drive their own destiny as far as Champions League football next season is concerned. Despite being involved in what was anything but an easy game down on the south coast, Erik ten Haag’s men got the job done against Bournemouth, grinding out a 0-1 win in workmanlike fashion after Casemiro gave them the lead with an acrobatic finish.
That win came after they beat Wolves at home, meaning that their mini blip seems to be a thing of past. With two games to go, they can now ensure that it is they who get into Europe’s premier competition ahead of Liverpool. All they need to do is beat an underperforming Chelsea team. How hard can it be?
It was a case of same old, same old for Chelsea at the weekend. Blues fans have now got used to seeing their team underwhelm in the final third. Sure, they were up against the champions away from home, but they again disappointed, failing to make their mark in the final third, and not for the first time this season. That is now just one win from their last 12 Premier League games and almost everyone associated with the club must now be wanting to get the season over with.
It is fair to say that Manchester United are in the position they are thanks largely to their excellent home form. Thursday’s hosts have been incredibly hard to beat at home this season. In fact, they have been virtually impossible to beat. Not since losing to Brighton in their first home game of the campaign have Erik ten Haag’s men lost at Old Trafford. That is 16 home Premier League games without tasting defeat, and it is not as if they have had to grind out a draw all that often, winning 13 of those 16 matches.
Of course, they have scored their share of goals in front of a home crowd, notching two or more in 11 out of 17 overall, but it is what they’ve produced in the defensive third that has often been the most impressive aspect. The Red Devils have now kept a clean sheet in each of their last six home games in the Premier League, while they have conceded in just five games since that opening day defeat to Brighton.
Chelsea can’t compare
While the hosts, MUFC, have made light work of both scoring goals and keeping them out at home, CFC have taken something of an opposite approach on their travels. Scoring goals has been an issue for the hosts under each of their three managers this season. On the road, they have scored in three of their last five, which isn’t too bad, but they have only scored more than once in two of those five. They have struggled massively from an offensive point of view away against big teams.
This season, the Blues have failed to score away against Manchester City, Tottenham, Newcastle, Liverpool and even Brentford. In nine games away against teams currently in the top half, they have scored a total of just five goals.
Draws on the menu
Neither team has taken to winning this fixture in recent times. Somewhat bizarrely, each of the last five renewals have ended all-square. When the teams met earlier in the season, they drew 1-1 at Stamford Bridge. In fact, each of the last three renewals of this fixture have ended 1-1, while there have not been more than two goals scored in a game between Manchester United and Chelsea since an FA Cup semi-final clash back in 2020.
Chelsea have not beaten Manchester United since winning 1-0 in the FA Cup back in 2018, while they have not won in the league at Old Trafford since 2013. Three of the last four league renewals of this fixture at Old Trafford have ended all-square.
MUFC vs CFC: Where’s the wager?
At the current odds, ‘Under 2.5 Goals’ really stands out. Sure, Manchester United have scored a few goals at home this season, but they have rarely scored more than two, prioritising a well-organised, disciplined approach over going crazy in the final third. Couple this with Chelsea’s clear lack of goals and odds of 11/8 looks sizable.
United’s knack of keeping clean sheets bodes well, as does the fact that the visitors don’t carry a goal threat. All season long Chelsea have lacked a goal-getter and they have never solved that problem. The likes of Raheem Sterling and Kai Havertz have not been able to shoulder the pressure of being the ones tasked with scoring regular goals. Those two have scored just 13 goals between them, scoring a combined total of just one, yes one, away against teams currently in the top half.
It is also no secret that the goals have largely stayed away from this fixture in recent times, with each of the last five renewals containing less than three goals. With each of United’s last five league games at home coming in with totals of under three also, ‘Under 2.5 Goals’ hits the spot at generous odds. So for the betting tips, we stick with this one for our MUFC vs CFC preview:
Bradley Gibbs is an experienced football writer. He is an expert analyst on Premier League, and all global football leagues & tournaments, for Just Bookies. Bradley has been published by many respected outlets, including USA Betting and the Racing & Football Outlook. He has also written betting strategy guides.