Manchester United vs ChelseaEnglish Premier League, KO: 16:30 Aug 11, 2019, Old Trafford
MANCHESTER UNITED and Chelsea have plenty in common as they prepare for a season that could make or break their managers.
In Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Frank Lampard, they both have club legends at the helm who face a massive challenge following in the footsteps of a high-profile boss.
The initial bounce from Solskjaer's appointment as interim boss after the darkness of Jose Mourinho's final few months at Old Trafford was so impressive that he landed the job on a permanent basis.
But after a stunning win over PSG at the Parc Des Princes in the Champions League, little went right for Solskjaer and United's end to the season was so shambolic that he will come under huge pressure if his side start this campaign in the same manner.
To make matters worse, he then had to contend with Paul Pogba's agent trying to engineer a summer move for the midfielder, something that failed to come to pass.
But United did lose another big-money signing when Romelu Lukaku joined Inter Milan on deadline day and failed to replace him, with a move for Paulo Dybala of Juventus falling through.
That has upset a few fans but Solskjaer has actually addressed the biggest problem United faced last season by strengthening his dodgy defence.
Leicester's Harry Maguire was dreadfully overpriced at £80million and the same can be said for full-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka, a £50m signing from Crystal Palace. But they will definitely improve Solskjaer's back four while Swansea winger Daniel James will bring further energy and pace to an attack that already boasts Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard.
Alexis Sanchez also remains at Old Trafford and if he can build on his impressive form for Chile at the Copa America then the big-money misfit might finally start paying back the club's huge outlay on him.
Chelsea's depleted defence might struggle with the movement of United's front three and I fancy the Red Devils to edge this opener. They were unbeaten in pre-season and that was no mean feat considering they faced both Milan clubs and top-four rivals Spurs. Home advantage could count for a lot here and I'll be backing United at 5/4 with Betfred, even though both league games between these sides ended in draws last season.
New Chelsea boss Frank Lampard faced a much tougher job than Solksjaer during the summer window as he was barred from buying players due to the club's transfer ban. And while Pogba's agent failed to secure United's star man a transfer to Real Madrid, the representatives of Blues talisman Eden Hazard succeeded in their task.
Hazard looked like being the only star to leave before David Luiz went into the huff a day before the window closed and forced through a move to London rivals Arsenal.
Lampard already faced a difficult challenge topping the achievements of Maurizio Sarri who won the Europa League and secured a third-placed finish as well as coming so close to winning the League Cup.
But those key departures and the transfer ban may force the Blues legend to rely on the reservoir of good will towards him from the fans in the early months of this campaign.
The only new arrival is American forward Christian Pusilic, bought before the ban came into effect and loaned back to Dortmund, but a series of players have returned from loans to bolster the squad.
One of them, Mason Mount, starred for Lampard's Derby team last season and the talented midfielder could have a big role to play this term after impressing in pre-season. He's 23/5 with Unibet for anytime scorer against United and it could be worth a tentative flutter if Mount gets the nod to start.
Striker Tammy Abraham is also back after a prolific loan spell in the Championship with Aston Villa and could lead the line in the opener if Lampard gives him the nod ahead of Olivier Giroud and Michy Batshuayi.
Like United, the Blues were in pretty impressive form during pre-season, claiming the scalps of Barcelona and Salzburg before drawing with Monchengladbach. Most of their games were high-scoring affairs so it could pay to back goals again at Old Trafford. Over 2.5 strikes is 21/20 with BetVictor and I like the look of that.
Pogba is an injury doubt for United, while Eric Bailly is out long-term. Chelsea are sweating on the fitness of Willian while Antonio Rudiger, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi are ruled out.
If Pogba is fit enough to play, Boylesports have boosted the price on him scoring a penalty to 9/1 from 7/1. That could be a good option given VAR may lead to more spot-kicks this season.
United will have plenty of pace out wide so I like the look of the 23/10 William Hill are offering on them winning over two corners in each half.
This English Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea will be played on Aug 11, 2019 and kick off at 16:30