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English Premier League: Manchester United vs Chelsea
sokapro-English Premier League: Manchester United vs Chelsea

Manchester United's second last Premier League home game of the season, against Chelsea, takes place today night, with only one point needed to guarantee Champions League football for the 2023-24 season.

Manchester United has won three of the last ten Premier League games, drawing seven. Chelsea is winless in nine league games at Old Trafford, drawing six and losing three. This match has produced 26 draws, more than any other in Premier League history, and the past five meetings have all ended level.The Red Devils are on the verge of a top-four finish after a 1-0 win over Bournemouth last weekend, while the mid-table Blues were defeated by newly-crowned champions Manchester City by the same scoreline.

Manchester United needs one point to finish in the top four and qualify for next season's Champions League. The Red Devils are attempting to win 40 games in all competitions for the fifth time in their history. Erik ten Hag's team is unbeaten in 28 games in all competitions at Old Trafford, winning 24 and drawing four. United has preserved a clean sheet in all six of their Premier League home games this season. Anthony Martial has four goals and one assist in his last four appearances versus Chelsea. While one Brazilian in Roberto Firmino managed to keep Liverpool's Champions League hopes alive in the Reds' draw with Aston Villa, his compatriot Casemiro came up with a moment of individual brilliance to keep Man United in the driving seat for a top-four finish at the Vitality Stadium. The midfielder's stunning bicycle kick settled an otherwise low-key match on the South Coast, during which David de Gea - for all of his criticism this season - recorded his 17th league clean sheet of the season to win the Golden Glove, and Erik ten Hag is on the verge of achieving his overarching goal in his debut season at Old Trafford. With a game in hand on Liverpool, the fourth-placed Red Devils will ensure their place in next season's Champions League - alongside Manchester City, Arsenal, and Newcastle United - if they avoid defeat on Thursday night, but they will get a second chance against Fulham on Sunday if they fall short here. Ten Hag will no doubt aim to wrap up a top-four finish on Thursday before attention turns to their FA Cup final date with bitter rivals Manchester City, and despite a few frailties on the road, Man United have been the toughest nut to crack at home in the current Premier League season. Indeed, the Red Devils have conceded just eight times at the Theatre of Dreams in the 2022-23 top flight - winning each of their last four without shipping a goal and keeping clean sheets in each of their last six - which certainly does not make for pleasant reading for a goal-shy Chelsea crop.

Chelsea will finish in the bottom half of the Premier League for the first time in 27 years. The Blues have lost all four of their previous Premier League games against teams above them in the table, drawing four and losing 11. If Chelsea loses at Old Trafford, they will set a new club record with 16 defeats in 38 Premier League games. This season, the west London club has scored 36 goals in 36 league games, its lowest total since scoring 31 goals in 1923-24. Raheem Sterling has yet to score in 24 outings for Liverpool, Manchester City, and Chelsea in all competitions against Manchester United. With Arsenal's defeat to Nottingham Forest on Saturday confirming Man City's status as champions, Pep Guardiola sent out a second-string team onto the field to meet Chelsea, but Frank Lampard's injury-hit charges could not spoil the Citizens' celebrations. A 12th-minute strike from Julian Alvarez was all it took to separate the two sides on the day, and while Man City had to survive a few scares along the way, the champions celebrated their coronation in the right way - handing Lampard his seventh defeat from nine games in charge of the Blues.  

However, each of the last five meetings between Man United and Chelsea has remarkably ended level, with October's clash at Stamford Bridge ending 1-1 for the third time in a row, and not since the pre-COVID days of February 2020 have the Red Devils actually beaten the Blues, but a sixth stalemate in a row would be enough for Ten Hag's men to dine at Europe's top table.

(Image by:The Sun)