MANCHESTER UNITED take on old rivals Chelsea at Old Trafford in the Premier League's standout showdown from the opening weekend of action. We asked Tom Love (@TomLove_18) to source the best bets.
Manchester United v Chelsea | Sunday 11th August 2019, 16:30 | Sky Sports
Two old foes go toe-to-toe at Old Trafford with the respective managers fondly thought of from their playing days. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Frank Lampard are still in their managerial infancy and they’re the reason why I think these sides could both miss out on a top four finish this time around.
The duo could turn out to be top managers but it’s hard to have such faith in them so early on in their career. Solskjaer saw a real upturn in form when he came in to replace Jose Mourinho, although I’d argue that the squad was significantly underachieving under Mou and anyone coming in would’ve seen an improvement.
Once OGS was given the permanent gig United dropped off massively again with performances and results deteriorating week-on-week. This summer has seen a change in tactics from a recruitment point of view – young British talent is the flavour and it’s one that has chimed well with the fans.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka was one of the best full-backs in the league last season and he will get even better given his age. Dan James provides pace and loves to be direct, a throwback to United wingers of the past perhaps? Bringing in England international Harry Maguire is a big statement and he will hopefully sure up a defence that was woeful last term, although it could take a few months.
New beginnings at Blues
Chelsea have been forced into a quiet summer due to their transfer ban, however Mateo Kovacic is now a permanent Blue and Christian Pulisic will debut this season. The scenario they find themselves in should mean Lampard gets ample time to implement what he wants, the fact he is a hero in that part of West London can only help too.
Sure, Lamps will know the club inside out and assistant Jody Morris has coached many of these players in the various youth sides at Cobham, but there’s a strong argument that his Derby side got a bit lucky to get into the play-offs.
On the data side of things, Derby were largely both-half fodder, worldie individual strikes from the likes of Mason Mount and Harry Wilson proved pivotal, but in and around the box the Rams didn’t create bags of high quality goalscoring chances. I am a fan of Lampard though; he comes across very professionally and he seems like a good man-manager.
The new Blues boss will have to do without exciting duo Reuben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi for a while as both picked up long term injuries in the summer. Chelsea are limited to just three strikers in Tammy Abraham, Olivier Giroud and Michy Batshuayi though and may require goals from all over the pitch if they’re to be successful this season.
Moving onto this game, the bookies have United as 5/4 favourites and Chelsea as big as 13/5 and looking at that I’d say the value is probably with the visitors. However, with a large degree of unknowns, I’ll leave that market alone. It is worth noting that there’s a strong draw bias between these two and that is available at 23/10 if you’re a historic head-to-head punter.
Alternatively, I’ll take the 4/5 on both sides scoring (William Hill). Even with the new defensive additions, United do look gettable and it will probably take a while for them to gel. Having said that, they did score quite a few under Solskjaer last season and their pacey forwards can cause this Chelsea backline problems.
Barkley too big?
One player that’s seen a lot of minutes pre-season for the Blues is Ross Barkley. The Englishman has revelled in his favoured attacking midfield role and has been taking penalties this summer, which shows he could be in line to take that mantle from the now departed Eden Hazard.
If Barkley does get the nod ahead of Mount then there has to be some juice in the 6/4 (Betfair) that he manages at least one shot on-target. With Lamps likely to adopt his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation, N’Golo Kante and Jorginho look set to be the holding midfielders and therefore give greater freedom for the former Everton man to get forward.
Plenty of teams worse than Chelsea were able to get shots off and create chances against this United side last year so they’ll fancy themselves. I’ll also have a smaller play on him managing two or more SOT at 9/1 with the same firm, it’s around half the price elsewhere. I would wait to see team news though because it’s not guaranteed that he will start.
Manchester United v Chelsea – Both Teams To Score (4/5 William Hill)
Manchester United v Chelsea – Ross Barkley to have at least 1 Shot On-Target (6/4 Betfair)
Manchester United v Chelsea – Ross Barkley to have at least 2 Shots On-Target (9/1 Betfair)