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Premier League: Patience is the Watchword for Two Prem Giants

Chelsea vs Manchester United

Ahead of the first clash of the season between these sides in early December, I billed it as a match-up meeting of two giants being played out in an unforgiving environment.

Then I referred to the mitigating factors both Premier League clubs were facing.

These included Manchester United having a treatment room full of injured players since the second week of the season, which was hampering the selection available to manager Erik ten Hag.

I also mentioned that Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino had the task of knitting together a group of virtual strangers who barely knew their new surroundings, let alone their team-mates, after the club’s quick fire overhaul—a soap opera tailor made for the top flight.

Of course, the reality is that such factors count for very little in the hurly, burly, and unforgiving world of top-flight football, and, almost four months on, nothing has changed.


Talking Points

Literally nothing, it would seem, because, as I write this piece, I have just been informed that United centre backs Victor Lindelof and Lisandro Martinez have been ruled out for a month each due to injuries.

If there is a club which has been hit harder by injuries anywhere in England this season, I am unaware of them.

As for Chelsea, there is now more sign of a settled starting XI, but they remain at best a work in progress or, at worst, a ‘jekyll n’ hyde’ outfit.

This has been evident in their last two home games.

At home in Newcastle, they showed glimpses of what could be with a pulsating display that occasionally fizzed.

Fast forward to Easter Saturday, however, and they were unable to beat relegation battlers Burnley, who played for an hour a man down.

It was another inconsistent performance, which emphasised exactly why the West Londoners remain in the bottom half of the table.

They had more than enough chances, with 33 shots—their most in a Premier League game in more than 10 years—yet conceded just three minutes after going in front, dropping more points against a struggling side.

It’s far from doom and gloom.

Amidst the signs of promise, Pochettino did guide Chelsea to the League Cup Final in February, where they only had themselves to blame for not beating an understrength Liverpool side.

Meanwhile, Premier League 2024 highlights have been more regular for United since the turn of the year, although it’s unlikely they will be able to climb above the sixth spot without more consistency and, perhaps, the return of a few key men.

Kobbie Mainoo will aim to produce Premier League highlights as Manchester United face Chelsea
Kobbie Mainoo during Manchester United’s match against Wolverhampton Wanderers

One of their undoubted success stories in recent months has been the emergence of teenager Kobbie Mainoo.

The 18-year-old has experienced a meteoric rise over the last few months, from a promising youth player to a regular starter and now a midfielder with two England caps.

His appearances for the national team last week impressed many; some pundits are even suggesting he could earn a place in the squad for Euro 2024 this summer.

He certainly won’t have a better education than training each day alongside the likes of Casemiro and Christian Eriksen.

Back to Thursday, it’s possible this could be a dress rehearsal for next month’s FA Cup Final.

But let’s not get carried away.

As it stands, this is 12th versus sixth, which is far from good enough for either club.

They have two good managers, though, and, despite the usual clamour for change from some fans and pundits, patience is the trait both need to show.

If they do, they could be onto something.


History

Last season, this fixture was the penultimate one of the league campaign and resulted in a 4-1 home success, which saw United clinch a place in the Champions League.

Casemiro, Anthony Martial. Bruno Fernandes (penalty) and Marcus Rashford were the scorers in the romp, which was a lot closer than the scoreline suggested, except the hosts were more clinical.

That ended a run of five successive draws between the teams.

It was 1-1 at Stamford Bridge last October when a late Jorginho penalty was cancelled out by an even later goal, an expert header from Casemiro.

A Scott McTominay double won the Old Trafford clash 2-1 for the Red Devils in December.

Overall, United have triumphed 83 times against the West Londoners, who have enjoyed success on 55 occasions. The other 56 matches have been draws.


Betting Tip

The SBOTOP Premier League 2024 betting odds edge towards the home side, so, judging by their expertise, perhaps I should not opt for another 2-1 United success with a correct score of 11.50. I do think it will be close though and I am leaning for yet another draw between these teams.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (⭐) BETS ARE WORTH:

⭐⭐⭐= €20 (HIGHLY CONFIDENT)

⭐⭐= €10 (CONFIDENT)

⭐= €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.


 

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