Manchester United vs Chelsea | Saturday 24th September 2020, 17:30 | Sky Sports
The marquee game of the weekend comes at Old Trafford as Manchester United, off the back of an excellent win in Paris, host a Chelsea side that laboured to a 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge against Sevilla midweek.
Both sides are yet to convince in the league and could find themselves struggling for a top -four finish unless they buck up their ideas.
Before their 4-1 win at Newcastle, the Red Devils were streets behind the rest on all the major data metrics and even after that performance they’re still ranked 19th on Expected Points (xP) this season, only West Brom fare worse. Their defence has been a shambles with an out of form Harry Maguire at the heart of it and teams have rightfully smelt blood and got at United, none more so than Spurs a few weeks back in their 6-1 romp.
United had to wait a while for their win against Newcastle on Tyneside but underlying performance numbers showed that they did deserve the three points, recording double-figures for shots on-target against the Magpies.
Their win in the French capital will have given them a further boost and the addition of Axel Tuanzebe to the backline was an inspired one by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. He could keep his place here in what you’d imagine would be a similar shape and set up with 3 at the back and Alex Telles remaining a well needed outlet at left win-back.
The bookies make the hosts slight favourites here at 6/4 but it is important to not get too sucked into recency bias, before the international break they were one of the worst teams in the league and I still need to see more of them to put them up as a bet. United fans will take heart from their good record against the big boys whilst under the Solskjaer regime, however a lot of those wins have come away from home where they were underdogs, that’s not the case here.
That being said, it looks hard to find faith in their opponents at shorter than 2/1 to win here either. Chelsea have brought in Ben Chilwell and Tiago Silva to the backline but both are still settling in and there’s the possibility of a communication issue with Silva who is still using a translator.
The Blues defensive efforts away under Frank Lampard also leave a lot to be desired, they actually conceded just one fewer than they scored on their travels last season and their 38 that they did ship was in fact the joint worst in the league alongside rock-bottom Norwich. How about that for a stat.
All in all the outright markets make me shiver. I cannot trust either sides and the fact both are between evens and 2/1 shows that the bookies can’t either. Instead I’ll look elsewhere and head to the props market and focus on one player who’s shown good early form, just as he did at the start of last season and that is Mason Mount.
Mount has been starting almost as an inverted winger in order to shoehorn Kai Havertz and Timo Werner into the starting line-up, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Lampard play him in his more favoured position, central attacking midfield, and drop Havertz to the bench given his slow start to life in London.
Now Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek aren’t about, Mount is a regular starter and hasn’t been shy of having a pop at goal. His 2.5 shots per-game average this season is only bettered by Werner, he also averaged over 2 shots per-game last season so will look to get into positions to test David De Gea.
Betfair go 10/11 that Mount hits an attempt on-target and that does appeal given how many shots United have conceded this season. He managed two shots on target and scored one of those in the last meeting between the pair, a 3-1 Chelsea FA Cup win back in July. He also managed two shots on target in the 4-0 defeat at Old Trafford earlier on in the season so it would be rude not to also have a dabble on him to have two shots on-target at a tasty 5/1 too.
And one big price that stood out was what I like to call ‘The Classic Bet’. It’s a same game multiple I tend to look at in games that are usually quite hotly contested and involve two dodgy defences. We can backBoth Teams To Score, Each Team Over 3 Corners and Both Teams Over 1 Card t 6/1 using Bet365’s BetBuilder and that looks a nice way to get involved and gives us lots of angles to cheer on.
Cards tend to be dished out in this fixture given the rivalry between the two, stemming from the Chelsea revolution of the mid-2000s. There’s been 14 cards a piece in their last six meetings in all competitions, so over two each per game on average in that run.
Also, given both sides struggle to keep efforts to a minimum we should see a fair few shots that lead to corners and the potential for an end to end game is high. This same bet landed in April 2019 in a ding-dong battle. Let’s hope for another cracker here.