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The odds for Manchester United vs Chelsea are taken from the FanDuel sportsbook, where you can get up to $1000 back in bonus bets.
We fancy Erik ten Hag’s team to get the job done by winning their penultimate match of the 2022/23 campaign.
Manchester United are almost there. A 1-0 victory over Bournemouth on Saturday, together with Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with Aston Villa, has put them on the brink of a top-four finish. United need one more point to get over the line, with a home game against Fulham to follow Thursday’s clash with Chelsea.
Qualifying for the Champions League would make this a good debut campaign for Erik ten Hag, whose tenure got off to a torrid start with back-to-back defeats by Brighton & Hove Albion and Brentford.
United were never likely to challenge for the Premier League title, even though some of their supporters began to get excited when they moved to within a few points of top spot after a 2-1 victory over Manchester City in mid-January. But a top-four finish and an EFL Cup triumph would give Ten Hag a solid foundation to build on next term.
The Dutchman will no doubt have spent the last few days reminding his players that they have not got the job done yet.
It is hard to envisage them allowing Liverpool, who are three points behind having played one game more, leapfrogging United at the last. But a defeat on Thursday would leave the Red Devils sweating heading into the final weekend.
United were far from spectacular against Bournemouth last time out, but they collected the three points they needed to remain in control of their own destiny. Greater ruthlessness in front of goal could have led to more than a 1-0 victory, but United were never in major danger of coming unstuck.
Ten Hag will hope for more backing in the summer transfer market, although the uncertainty surrounding the ownership of the club represents a cloud hanging over Old Trafford.
Once United do secure a top-four berth, attention will quickly turn once more to off-field matters. For now, though, all eyes on the pitch.
Chelsea probably wish they only had one fixture left to fulfil. This has been a truly miserable season for the west London outfit, who will finish in the bottom half of the Premier League table for the first time since 1995/96.
Worse still, Chelsea spent close to $750m on new signings last summer, only to significantly regress.
Todd Boehly, the new co-owner and chairman, has failed to make anything like a positive impact. He has sacked two managers in Thomas Tuchel and Graham Potter, yet Chelsea have continued to get worse.
Many of their problems go above and beyond Frank Lampard, the interim head coach. But it is undeniable that Chelsea have gone backwards under the stewardship of the former Everton boss.
Since Lampard was handed the reins in early April, Chelsea have the third-worst record in the league. Had the season started upon the former midfielder’s appointment, his side would be in the relegation zone right now.
Chelsea have a lot of work to do before next season. Mauricio Pochettino is on his way to Stamford Bridge and he has a big summer ahead, not just in terms of signing players but also in determining which members of the current squad he wants to keep.
Needing to take one point from a possible six in two remaining home games, Manchester United would have settled for this scenario had they been offered it at the start of the season.
Their record at Old Trafford throughout 2022/23 offers particular reason for optimism. Only Manchester City have averaged more points per home game. United have lost just once on home turf - that surprise defeat by Brighton on the opening weekend. Since then, they have been largely excellent in front of their own supporters.
There have been few positives for Chelsea to take from this campaign, as we illustrated above. The Blues are desperate for the summer and we will probably see that in their performance on Thursday. It is hard to envisage them matching United’s energy and intensity given their opponents’ need for a positive result.
United have - by some distance - the best defensive record at home this term, having conceded just eight goals in their 17 matches at Old Trafford. Chelsea, meanwhile, have the fourth-worst attacking return in the division.
With that in mind, this is unlikely to be a high-scoring game. United should prove strong for their opponents, so we recommend pairing a home win with under 3.5 goals in a combination wager - it is a more attractive choice than simply betting the moneyline.
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Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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