Old Trafford - Premier League
The pick of the fixtures from the opening round of the Premier League season sees Manchester United host Chelsea at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon. The Red Devils have invested heavily after another season of huge disappointment and underachievement, while Chelsea’s spending has been restricted by their transfer ban.
These teams drew both of their Premier League meetings last season, although United recorded an impressive 2-0 victory at Stamford Bridge in the FA Cup, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer enjoyed his honeymoon period as manager. There hasn’t been an away win in this fixture in the league though since Chelsea won 1-0 at Old Trafford back in May 2013. United had already been crowned champions and Juan Mata got the goal for the Blues, showing how much has changed since then.
The home team are set to hand a debut to the world’s most expensive defender, Harry Maguire, after the England international sealed his move from Leicester City this week. Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James are also in line for their debuts, while Paul Pogba is expected to stay and play. Eric Bailly is out for the long term with a knee injury, while Andreas Pereira and Alexis Sanchez are doubts.
Frank Lampard takes charge of his first Premier League game as a manager, and he can call on Mateo Kovacic after the Croatian made his loan spell from Real Madrid permanent. There are no other new faces due to Chelsea’s transfer ban though, while Callum Hudson-Odoi, Antonio Rudiger and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are injured. N’Golo Kante should be fit to play, while Willian is 50/50 following a hamstring strain.
Manchester United v Chelsea Preview and Predictions
A fixture with so many subplots, both of these teams are looking to lay down a marker on the opening weekend of the season. Manchester United are desperate for a positive campaign after collapsing towards the end of last term and finishing sixth, while Chelsea ended up in third and are looking to close the huge gap to Manchester City and Liverpool.
The Blues finished 26 points behind Pep Guardiola’s champions, although they lifted the Europa League at the end of the campaign. It’s a very early test of Lampard’s coaching and management credentials, as he attempts to improve the set of players left to him.
Chelsea’s record goalscorer could’ve done without a trip to Old Trafford in his first match, but it’s a real opportunity for his team to make a statement. The Blues’ hosts are looking to do the same after splashing out serious money in the summer, and winning all six of their pre-season friendlies, albeit with the last one coming on penalties against AC Milan.
Solskjaer has been working hard on his team’s fitness and pressing, and we’ll see if that’s paid off on Sunday. Lampard has also brought more freedom to Chelsea’s play after impressing with Derby County last season, with the Blues beating Barcelona 2-1 in pre-season. The visitors are 5/2 to get their season off to the best possible start with a win this weekend, but United are the 5/4 favourites, with the draw at 23/10.
Both teams to score at 4/5
Both of these managers are committed to playing attacking football, with Chelsea scoring 17 goals in five pre-season fixtures. United have only managed 12 in six games, but will enjoy home advantage here.
Score draw at 18/5
United have strengthened and are expected to improve on their performances from last season, but Chelsea amassed six more points than the Reds last season, and they don’t have to bed in any new faces this weekend, which could help them get a result.