There’s just one battle between Big Six clubs on the first matchday of the Premier League season. In the Matchday 1 finale, Manchester United will play host to rival Chelsea in a game that is sure to see some sparks. These two clubs do not like each other, as we saw when they met in Stamford Bridge last year. Both powers may have an uphill battle getting their teams back to the Champions League in the first full season under new coaches, and a win for either side here would be important.
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Manchester United vs Chelsea FC
- Date and Time: August 11, 2019, 11:30 a.m. ET
- Location: Old Trafford, Manchester, England
- US Television Coverage: NBCSN and Telemundo
- Betting Line: Manchester United PK and -0.5, O/U 2.5
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was impressive enough on an interim basis to eventually be named Manchester United’s manager last season, and this will be his first full season in charge of the Red Devils. He faces a tough task as United have a lot of holes, and Paul Pogba is being hotly pursued by other European powerhouses that will take part in this year’s Champions League.
Manchester United did make two moves in an attempt to be better on the back end after giving up a Premier League era team record 54 goals in 2018-19. Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka were acquired for over $160 million in combined transfer fees from other Premier League clubs, so the defense should be much improved.
Life without Eden Hazard is going to be difficult for Chelsea, and the Blues’ transfer ban will make matters more difficult. They were unable to make the moves they wanted to over the summer, and for the first half of the year, they will lean on new acquisition Christian Pulisic. Pulisic has wowed us sporadically for the last few seasons, but Chelsea are hoping that he is ready to make the leap. They desperately need a new maestro in the midfield to replace what Hazard meant to the club.
Marco van Ginkel, Antonio Rudiger, and Callum Hudson-Odoi all suffered major injuries last campaign and it will take at least a few more weeks before any of the trio can return. Ruben Loftus-Cheek is out the first three months because of an injury, and Reece James will miss some time with an ankle issue. Willian is questionable because of a strained hamstring, and N’Golo Kante is listed as probable.
Preseason was not good to Eric Bertrand Bailly. Bailly will miss five months after going down with a major knee injury and is projected to be back around Boxing Day. Timothy Fosu-Mensah is a long-term injury, while both Alexis Sanchez and Andres Pereira are considered questionable. Pogba has been declared probable to play.
Chelsea FC Player to Watch
N’Golo Kante is free to be a defensive terror once again under new manager Frank Lampard. Kante was moved into more of an attacking role under Maurizio Sarri last season, and it was an unnatural fit that he never became accustomed to. Moving him back to his preferred role should help Chelsea be more aggressive in defense.
Manchester United Player to Watch
Marcus Rashford could have a breakthrough campaign this season. Rashford seemed to come into his own at times last year and the 21-year-old might be ready for the next step. That would make United far more dangerous than they were on the attack last year.
I like the under quite a bit as both teams have some major questions to answer on the attack. The early part of the season is for figuring things out, and both these teams need to do that.
English Premier League Prediction: Manchester United 1, Chelsea FC 1
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