Manchester United’s final Premier League home game of the season, against Chelsea, takes place on Thursday, with only one point needed to guarantee Champions League football for the 2023/24 season.
The Red Devils are on the verge of a top-four finish after a 1-0 win over Bournemouth last weekend, while the mid-table Blues were defeated by newly-crowned champions Manchester City by the same scoreline in their last game.
Casemiro produced a moment of individual brilliance to keep Manchester United in contention for a top-four finish at the Vitality Stadium.
The midfielder’s stunning bicycle kick settled an otherwise low-key match on the South Coast, during which David de Gea – for all of his criticism this season – recorded his 17th league clean sheet of the season to win the Golden Glove, and Erik ten Hag is on the verge of achieving his overarching goal in his debut season at Old Trafford.
With a game in hand on Liverpool, the fourth-placed Red Devils will ensure their place in next season’s Champions League – alongside Manchester City, Arsenal, and Newcastle United – if they avoid defeat on Thursday night, but they will get a second chance against Fulham on Sunday if they fall short here.
Chelsea can only finish the season in 11th place – a spot currently held by Crystal Palace, who have a one-point lead despite having played one more game – and any hopes of redemption on Manchester soil will be hampered by a record of just two wins in their last 13 Premier League away games.
However, each of the last five meetings between Manchester United and Chelsea have ended level, with October’s clash at Stamford Bridge ending 1-1 for the third time in a row, and the Red Devils have not beaten the Blues since the pre-COVID days of February 2020, but a sixth stalemate in a row would be enough for United.