The opening weekend of the new Premier League season draws to a close with an epic blockbuster as two club legends turned managers collide at Old Trafford, as Ole Gunnar-Solskjaer’s Manchester United host Frank Lampard’s Chelsea.
United will be looking to build on a promising summer whilst for Lampard, this marks his return to the Premier League and Chelsea as a manager after prying his trade in the Championship with Derby last season.
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Manchester United have a near full squad available as Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Harry Maguire and Daniel James look set for their Old Trafford debuts.
Aleix Sanchez however will be absent due to a lack of match fitness, having been on international duty with Chile this summer at the Copa America.
Defenders, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Eric Bailly are both absent as they continue to recover from knee injuries, whilst Joel Pereira misses out with a back injury.
Chelsea could be without N’Golo Kante due to fitness concerns as he continues to recover from a hamstring injury.
Willian (fitness), Antonio Rudiger (knee) and Callum Hudson-Odoi (Achilles) are short-term absentees for Lampard, whilst Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Achilles), Marco van Ginkel (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) and Reece James (ankle) are long-term absentees.
Man Utd enjoyed a positive pre-season in which they took five wins and a draw whilst teenager, Mason Greenwood netted two goals to finish as joint second top scorer alongside Anthony Martial but behind Marcus Rashford who scored three goals.
Chelsea meanwhile faced a hectic global pre-season containing seven friendlies, although they managed to lose just one clash with seven of their 18 goals coming from Ross Barkley (4) and Mason Mount (3).
- Manchester United have lost just one of their last five meetings with Chelsea in all competitions (W2, D2, L1), although it is also the same record from their last five Premier League meetings individually too.
- At home, United haven’t lost any of their last six league meetings with Chelsea (W2, D4).
- Chelsea’s last three permanent managers have all avoided defeat in their first league clashes with Man Utd (W1, D2) although for Antonio Conte and Maurizio Sarri, their first meetings with the Red Devils came at Stamford Bridge.
- Man Utd are unbeaten in their last four league openers (W3, D1) since losing 2-1 at home to Swansea in August 2014.
- Chelsea have avoided defeat in four of their last five openers, with their only defeat coming at home to Burnley in August 2017 (W3, D1, L1).
Youth seems to be the direction that both clubs are heading in because United have brought in three young talents whilst Lampard seems to be blending youth and experience at Chelsea.
I am therefore intrigued to see which approach works out best long-term but focusing on the match itself, Maguire is going to be key to United’s defence because Lampard will play an attacking style in which I expect Mount to shine alongside Barkley whilst Michy Batshuayi leads the line up front.
A solid draw therefore would be a good start for both teams here in what will be a cracker.
Prediction: Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea
Result: Manchester United 4-0 Chelsea