All eyes will be on Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon, as Manchester United face Chelsea in the standout game of the opening weekend of the 2019/20 Premier League season. The upcoming season is something of an unknown for both sides, who will share ambitions of finishing in the top four this season. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team finished sixth in the Premier League last time out, while Chelsea – despite some pretty underwhelming performances – managed a third-placed finish under Maurizio Sarri. There will be plenty of attention on the Chelsea dugout this weekend, as Frank Lampard takes charge of his first competitive game as manager.
After conceding 54 goals in the Premier League last season, only Leicester City (55) had a worse defence of the teams that finished in the top 10 than Manchester United last term, setting up a £130m raid for new defenders by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. That has resulted in both Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire moving to Old Trafford this summer, both of whom are expected to start this weekend. United come into this opening game having gone unbeaten in all six of their pre-season friendlies, though there is a cautious optimism amongst what they can achieve this season. With Romelu Lukaku looking set to depart for Italy, there is pressure on the shoulders of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial to increase their output after scoring 13 and 12 goals respectively last season. Solskjaer saw his team take just one point from their final three league games at Old Trafford last season, but could create a real buzz for the season ahead with three points on Sunday.
There is arguably no more imposing stage to open your managerial career in the Premier League at than Old Trafford, but Frank Lampard will be well aware that this is not the same relentless Manchester United side he so often came up against as a player. The Chelsea legend is back at Stamford Bridge after just one season in management with Derby County, and arrives at a time where the pressure on his shoulders could seldom be more diminished. Coming off the back of a summer where Chelsea were under a transfer ban and lost their best player in Eden Hazard to Real Madrid, fans certainly won’t be expecting their team to be challenging for the title. However, unlike their opponents, they do have Champions League football to look forward to this season, as well as the UEFA Super Cup next Wednesday after their Europa League success. The main question for Chelsea this season will come via who Lampard trusts to lead the line, with his options for the season being Olivier Giroud, Tammy Abraham and Michy Batshuayi.
New signings Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire should both be included in the United back four on Sunday and are likely to be accompanied by Victor Lindelof and Luke Shaw. £18m winger Daniel James will also be pushing to make his Premier League debut. Eric Bailly (knee) looks set to be out until December, but Alexis Sanchez (hamstring) should be fit to be involved. Paul Pogba should also be included in the squad despite recent speculation linking him with a move away from Old Trafford, but Romelu Lukaku will play no part on Sunday.
Frank Lampard will be missing some key players for this opening day game, with Antonio Rudiger (knee), Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi (both achilles) all out through injury. However, Willian is expected to shake off a knock to start on the flanks along with Pedro in a front three that will likely be completed by one of the aforementioned Giroud, Abraham or Batshuayi. After impressing under Lampard whilst on loan at Derby, Mason Mount could be handed his Premier League debut at Old Trafford.
This looks a tough one to call on the face of it, with there being an air of unpredictability about both teams heading into the new campaign. However, with Chelsea missing some key players through injury and United’s new signings coming in to help strengthen their defence, we like the look of the hosts to kick off with a win at 2.10. Marcus Rashford looks set to be United’s main man up front this season and the forward will have received a confidence boost from scoring in their last pre-season friendly against AC Milan. As such, we like the look of Rashford to score anytime at 2.62.