Three games left. Someone’s going to have to catch that top-four hot potato. Seemingly, no one wants it. Even before Spurs hilariously lost to West Ham at home last night, the four teams vying for the last two Champions League spots had a combined 1 win in in the last two rounds (that’s 8 games total).
First up today are Arsenal, losers of 3 of 4, away to Leicester City. Then it’s Manchester City away to Burnley in the two-horse title race, and then the big showdown at Old Trafford.
It’s a Super Sunday of massive top four implications.
Date / Time: Sunday, April 28, 2019, 16:30 BST; 11:30am EDT; 9pm IST
Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester, England
Referee: Martin Atkinson — a familiar name, a familiar face, last seen in the second leg of the League Cup semifinal against Spurs
Forecast: Slightly overcast, slightly warm
On TV: Sky Sports Main Event (UK); NBCSN (USA), Star Sports Select HD2 (India); elsewhere
Streaming online: Sky Go (UK); NBC Sports Live (USA); Hotstar (India); Fubo (affiliate link — USA only)
Manchester United team news: As bad and as inconsistent as Chelsea have been, Manchester United have been spectacularly terrible recently. Ole Gunnar Solksjaer at the wheel was the rallying cry just a couple months ago. Now the wheels of that bus have truly fallen off: just 2 wins from 9 in all competitions, including 3 of the last 4 in the Premier League. United haven’t scored a goal from open play in almost 9 hours.
One positive for United could be the return of Ander Herrera, who tends to have a key role whenever these two teams play, including in the 2-0 victory for United in the FA Cup in February.
Of course, in the context of just one game, anything can happen, especially when we consider Chelsea’s own atrocious away form, struggles in front of goal, and tendency to collapse at a moment’s notice.
View from the enemy: The Busby Babe
Chelsea team news: Maurizio Sarri hinted at a pragmatic approach as he’s done a few times against big teams in recent months, which is likely to mean an isolated Eden Hazard up front and withdrawn wingers in Willian and Pedro. As long as Chelsea don’t concede silly goals — unlike the last time we tried this approach, against Liverpool — the idea will then be to hit back in the final phase of the game. However, that’s a very big IF for the Blues these days, as silly goals, silly mistakes, and uninspired play have come to dominate amid all the inconsistency — especially if N’Golo Kanté is unable to recover from the bruised ribs he suffered on Monday. Antonio Rüdiger should be fit, but Willian and Marcos Alonso remain doubtful.
Since the League Cup final, Chelsea have failed to win just 4 of 13 games. Unfortunately, all four of those (two draws, two losses) have come in league games. Our away form in the Premier League since the start of 2019 is shockingly bad, having lost 5 of 7, all without scoring a goal — and the two wins were against relegation-bound teams by one-goal margins.
Still we enter the weekend in the top four, and if we win out in the final three games, Champions League qualification is ours.
Previously: Chelsea used to have a pretty good record at Old Trafford, but we actually haven’t won there since 2013, when, incidentally, we were also playing in the final stages of the Europa League. Juan Mata scored a lovely late winner.