Chelsea would go a long way toward seeing off one of the potential challengers to their fourth place by defeating Manchester United in the EPL on Monday (3pm ET).
Chelsea are currently in pole position to join Liverpool, Manchester City and Leicester in next season’s Champions League by taking that fourth spot. With a third of the season to go, they still have five teams within a six-point range of them, including Man Utd.
That things are still so tight is a reflection of how hard Chelsea have found it to maintain the necessary consistency to build up a larger gap. They moved into the top-four on the back of six straight wins between September and November but have failed to win consecutive matches since. Their record in that time reads: four wins, three draws and six defeats.
Frank Lampard’s side come into this fixture on the back of a three-match winless streak in the league. A 0-1 defeat away to Newcastle was followed by a 2-2 draw at home to Arsenal, in which they were unable to take advantage of their visitors playing for over an hour with 10 men. They then notched another 2-2 draw away at Leicester at the start of the month.
Their hosts had the better of the first half, but it was Chelsea who went ahead early into the second half through Antonio Rudiger. Two goals in 10 minutes shortly thereafter reversed the scoreline in Leicester’s favor, only for Chelsea to hit back through a second Rudiger header from a set-piece. Leicester missed a good late chance to take all three points.
Next up are consecutive matches against two of their chasing pack. Man Utd and Tottenham Hotspur were considered among the primary candidates for a top-four finish prior to the start of the campaign, and Spurs, in particular, still have a degree of unrealized potential within their squad if everything comes together for them. Two defeats would make things very awkward for Lampard and his team.
On the other side of that equation are a Manchester United side whose hopes of dragging themselves back into contention would be all but ended by defeat on Monday. They are already six points back and have shown little indication that they would be capable of overturning a nine-point deficit if they were to be defeated. Of course, if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side were to emerge victorious, the gap would stand at a highly enticing three points.
United did come away with the spoils when the two sides met at Old Trafford on the opening day of the season. A somewhat open and naive display from Chelsea provided space into which Man Utd could counter. They took full advantage, with Marcus Rashford scoring twice in a 4-0 win.
That didn’t prove to be start of a successful campaign. The shine fairly quickly came off, as United won just one of their next eight matches and it has never really returned. A series of three wins and three draws from mid-November to mid-December remains their best six-match run of results. They have only won one more match than they have lost or drawn.
Like Chelsea, United come into this encounter on the back of a three-match winless streak. Defeats to nil away at Liverpool and at home to Burnley were followed by a 0-0 draw at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers in their last league fixture. They have now failed to score in four of their last five.
Our Preview’s Chelsea vs Man Utd Picks & Betting Predictions Verdict
Without the injured Rashford, Man Utd are unlikely to carry quite the same threat on Monday as they did on home soil on the opening day. Chelsea haven’t looked especially defensively sound recently, so United might just grab a goal. If it comes first, it would certainly test some nerves around Stamford Bridge.
If you fancy a bet with the American sportsbooks, it is Chelsea who should be fancied to come away with the three points. These are the CFC vs MUFC predictions for this preview:
- Bet on Chelsea to win & both teams to score @ best odds of +290 (almost 3/1) with Bovada.