Manchester United's final Premier League home game of the season is on Thursday when Chelsea go to Old Trafford needing only one point to ensure Champions League football for the 2023-24 season.
United, fresh off a 1-0 victory over Bournemouth, is on the cusp of a top-four finish, while the midtable Blues were defeated by champions Manchester City by the same score.
While Roberto Firmino kept Liverpool's Champions League chances alive in a draw with Aston Villa, Casemiro kept Manchester United in the hunt for a top-four finish with a moment of individual brilliance of his own at the Vitality Stadium.
David de Gea, for all the criticism he has received this season, posted 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 thanks to the midfielder's stunning bicycle kick that settled an otherwise low-key affair on the South Coast.
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United are currently in fourth place, three points ahead of Liverpool with a game in hand; a win on Thursday night would guarantee them a spot in next season's Champions League, along with Manchester City, Arsenal, and Newcastle United; a loss would give them a second chance against Fulham on Sunday.
Despite some weaknesses on the road, Man United have been the toughest nut to crack at home in the current Premier League season, and Ten Hag will no likely want to clinch up a top-four finish on Thursday before focusing on their FA Cup final clash with arch rivals Manchester City.
Indeed, the Red Devils have allowed only eight goals at the Theatre of Dreams in the 2022-23 Premier League season, winning each of their past four without conceding a goal and maintaining clean sheets in each of their last six. This is not good news for a goal-shy Chelsea crop.
Pep Guardiola fielded a second-string squad against Chelsea on Sunday after Arsenal's loss to Nottingham Forest on Saturday confirmed Man City's status as champions, but Frank Lampard's injury-hit charges were unable to dampen the Citizens' celebrations.
While Man City did had to weather a few storms, the champions celebrated their crowning in style, defeating Lampard's Blues for the seventh time in his nine games in charge thanks to a goal from Julian Alvarez in the 12th minute.
Lampard cut a positive figure after the game as he praised Chelsea's improvement, but the Blues are still in a precarious position at 12th in the table heading into Thursday's match and could fall as low as 14th if they lose both of their remaining games.
Chelsea can only finish as high as 11th in the Premier League this season, behind Crystal Palace who currently sits in that spot with a one-point lead after playing a game more. The London club's hopes of redemption on Manchester soil are not helped by the fact that they have won just two of their last thirteen Premier League road games.
Despite this, a sixth consecutive tie would be enough for Ten Hag's men to dine at Europe's top table, as each of the last five meetings between Man United and Chelsea have remarkably ended level, with October's clash at Stamford Bridge ending 1-1 for the third time in a row. Not since the pre-COVID days of February 2020 have the Red Devils actually beaten the Blues.