Chelsea vs. Manchester United odds, preview, and pick
Chelsea welcomes Manchester United to Stamford Bridge on Sunday, as two teams vying for Champions League football next season square off in our Premier League match of the week. Chelsea are favored to win at home, with the Over/Under set at 2.5 goals.
Sun, February 28 2021, 4:30 PM
Chelsea unbeaten since Tuchel’s appointment
Firing a manager mid-season is a massive gamble, but Chelsea appear to have played it perfectly when they replaced Frank Lampard with former PSG manager Thomas Tuchel.
Since arriving in London, the Blues have not lost a single match under Tuchel's tutelage. Their defense has greatly improved, keeping six clean sheets in eight matches. Additionally, they have faced the fewest shots of any team in the league during that time, with only ten efforts on goal since January 27, as he moved them to a “three at the back” system with two holding midfielders.
Since Thomas Tuchel's arrival, Chelsea have conceded the second fewest goals, faced the lowest shots and have kept the second most clean sheets in the Premier League.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 23, 2021
He has turned Chelsea into a defensive powerhouse.
While their defense has improved, their attack has actually regressed a tiny bit. Chelsea’s possession under Tuchel has jumped to 69%, nearly 10% higher than under Lampard, and their shots per match have gone up slightly.
However, they are putting nearly one less shot on goal per match, and their goals per match dropped from 1.7 to 1.3 in that time. Additionally, their xG has dipped, and their shooting accuracy has dropped nearly 10% with just two of every five shots finding their target.
Thiago Silva being out with an injury is a big concern for the Blues, but it might be helped out with a return of N’Golo Kante to full fitness.
Kante has featured just once under Tuchel, but with Silva out, Tuchel might look to him to shore up the center of defense. Additionally, Olivier Giroud is expected to lead the attack after his spectacular goal against Atletico Madrid midweek in Champions League. Reece James may also return at right back after coming back from injury.
United looking to finally defeat a “big six” opponent
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has United sitting second in the table, but the Premier League title is all but out of reach at this point. A large reason for that is their struggles against the “big six” this season.
The Red Devils have failed to defeat any of the traditional powers in the league in 2020-21, suffering two defeats and taking a point from their other four attempts. That includes a 0-0 draw with Chelsea in October.
They have also scored just once—from the penalty spot, of course—in those six matches, with the goal coming in a 6-1 defeat to Spurs. This is in large part due to the defensive style Solskjaer prefers in these matchups, which will likely be repeated on Sunday.
United’s lineup in that first match featured a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Scott McTominay and Fred anchoring the midfield, their preferred duo behind Bruno Fernandes. However, McTominay is coming back from injury and might not be fit, which would see Nemanja Matic slot in alongside the Brazilian. This could see United shift to the five at the back setup that Solskjaer has employed in many big matches this season.
They will hope to see Fernandes step up, something he has failed to do against the “big six” this season. In 630 minutes against Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal, Chelsea, and Manchester City, the Portuguese playmaker has failed to register an assist while scoring their lone spot kick goal. With Paul Pogba injured, Bruno will be the sole playmaker in the midfield.
Bruno may have the services of Edinson Cavani back for this match, but it will be Marcus Rashford who United will likely pin their goal scoring hopes on. The forward has scored or assisted on seven goals against the Blues, the most he has had against any club since moving up from the youth academy.
7 - Marcus Rashford has been involved in seven competitive goals vs Chelsea (5 goals, 2 assists); against no side has he been involved in more in his career. Threat.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 26, 2021
Will he continue his great form vs Chelsea in their Premier League meeting this weekend?https://t.co/YvMjkvvPzE
Trends and Free Bet
In their last three Premier League meetings at Stamford Bridge, Manchester United have led at both half time and full time. They’ve scored at least two goals in each of their last four trips to Chelsea.
Manchester United have gone 19 unbeaten away from home, and are the only team in the Big Five leagues in Europe to have not suffered a league defeat in 2020-21.
In four meetings between Tuchel and Solskjaer, the away team has won all four times, with United winning twice at Parc de Princes and Tuchel’s PSG side taking the spoils at Old Trafford.
Chelsea have not conceded a goal in their last three home matches, and they are unbeaten in 10 of their last 11 Premier League matches.
United have played their best football this season when being allowed to sit back and break on defenses, so Chelsea’s play under Tuchel suits them perfectly in this matchup. The absence of Silva makes it even more vital that they contain United’s pace going forward.
Furthermore, United’s biggest struggles defensively come when they have to defend in space, and Chelsea’s struggles in the final third will allow the Red Devils to remain compact and force the Blues to pick them apart.
Many of United’s goals conceded this season in these types of matchups have been from set piece mistakes, and Giroud and Tammy Abraham both can capitalize on that. However, United’s form on the road cannot be ignored, and the pace and danger that Rashford poses in transition could see them steal one as well.
At the end of the day, I like the two teams to share the spoils, with any goals scored likely coming from defensive errors.