Ralf Rangnick says it “doesn’t make sense” to still be talking about injury-hit Manchester United’s chances of making the Champions League, but to focus on finishing this season as well as possible, starting against Chelsea on Thursday, live on Sky Sports.
United are six points behind fourth-placed Arsenal having won just once in their last six matches and played a game more. They had chances to make ground as their top-four rivals slipped up in recent weeks, but suffered a damaging defeat to Arsenal last weekend after also losing to Liverpool and Everton this month.
They face Chelsea without several key players including Harry Maguire, Paul Pogba, Jadon Sancho, Luke Shaw, Edinson Cavani and Fred while Aaron Wan-Bissaka is a doubt, although interim manager Rangnick is expecting his available players to show they can beat a top side.
“We have four more games to play, the next two games are at home at Old Trafford and we will try to get as many points and win as many games as we possibly can,” said Rangnick at his pre-match press conference.
“In order to do that we need to play on the best level we possibly can. Chelsea is a good team but we know that if we play well it’s possible to win the game tomorrow.
“I don’t think it makes sense now to still speak and speculate about the Champions League, we need to be realistic. Even if we win all four games it’s not in our hands, what is in our hands is how we play, our level of performance. It’s important for this season to finish on the best possible note.
Man Utd team news:
Manchester United captain Harry Maguire will miss their Premier League game with Chelsea due to a knee issue while winger Jadon Sancho has also been ruled out with tonsillitis
Aaron Wan-Bissaka faces a late fitness test with Fred, Edinson Cavani, Paul Pogba (all calf) and Luke Shaw (ankle) still out. Cavani, though, is due back in training on Friday.
Youngsters Hannibal Mejbri and Alejandro Garnacho will be in the squad again, while left-back Alvaro Fernandez could also make his matchday squad debut
“Obviously, if results are not going well and we lost three of the last four games, the morale, energy in the locker room isn’t as good as it would be, still we have to perform, this is what we’re getting paid for, it’s important for the players, knowing the new manager, to show we are able to beat a team like Chelsea, this is our job, this is what everyone has to do and this is what we have been working for.”
‘Man Utd still an attractive club’
Rangnick believes players will still be interested in signing for United this summer even without the lure of Champions League football.
“Of course, it would be better if we played Champions League next season but this also affects other clubs, it’s not only a problem Manchester United has,” said Rangnick. “The renewal of the contract of Bruno (Fernandes) shows it’s still possible.
“This is an attractive club, with a new manager, new approach, this is still a massively interesting club and I’m looking forward to helping Erik and everyone at the club to get the best and change the whole approach next season so Manchester United can be a top club.”
Tuchel: Old Trafford one of biggest stages
Despite United’s struggles this campaign, Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel insists Rangnick’s squad is still packed with quality players and is looking forward to Thursday’s trip to Manchester.
“I am personally very happy to face them at Old Trafford,” Tuchel said. “For me personally it is one of the biggest stages.
“I arrive with a strong club and team, the best way to arrive. This match will always be big for me no matter what position or form they are in.
“That’s why we prepare in the best possible way. We don’t’ reflect so much in their situation. We focus on their last matches. We should not get confused by the lack of results. For me, the squad is full of quality.”
Chelsea team news
Antonio Rudiger and Reece James could be in contention for Thursday’s Premier League trip to Manchester United after training on Tuesday, while a late decision will be made on the fitness of Andreas Christensen.
Mateo Kovacic, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ben Chilwell all remain sidelined by injuries. Ross Barkley is ill.
Tuchel says “nobody likes” Antonio Rudiger’s decision to leave the club this summer as the defender closes in on a free transfer to Real Madrid.
Rudiger, whose Chelsea deal expires at the end of the season, is close to agreeing a four-year deal with Real and Tuchel revealed at the weekend he had decided to reject a new contract and join a new club.
Asked about the Germany international’s decision to leave, Tuchel said: “I don’t think anybody likes it. He gives everybody confidence in the dressing room. He is a unique character and plays on an outstanding level. He sometimes takes the focus towards him, he loves responsibility.
“Nobody likes this decision but we have to accept it. Like it or not there will be life at Chelsea after Toni. It is also the most important thing for us that it ends like it started, on the highest level.”
Last time out…
Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 100th Premier League goal but it was not enough to stop Arsenal moving into fourth thanks to a 3-1 victory over Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium.
Christian Pulisic spared Jorginho’s blushes as his 90th-minute winner earned Chelsea a 1-0 victory over 10-man West Ham – to end the Blues’ awful record at Stamford Bridge.
How to follow Man Utd vs Chelsea:
Watch Manchester United vs Chelsea live on Sky Sports Premier League and Main Event from 7pm; kick-off 7.45pm. Follow the game in our dedicated live blog, including in-game clips and free match highlights shortly after full time.
Opta stats: Can Chelsea end winless run?
- Manchester United are unbeaten in their last eight home league games against Chelsea (W3 D5), keeping five clean sheets in that run since a 1-0 loss in May 2013.
- Chelsea are winless in eight Premier League games against Manchester United (D5 L3) – only against Arsenal (19 between 1995 and 2005) and Blackburn Rovers (12 between 1992 and 1998) have they had a longer run without a win in the competition.
- Manchester United have kept a clean sheet in four of their last five Premier League games against Chelsea, having recorded a shutout in just four of their previous 23 against them.
- Only Manchester City (39) have won more away points in the Premier League than Chelsea (36) this season, while only Liverpool (40) have scored more goals on the road than the Blues (35). Chelsea have won their last eight away games in all competitions, their longest such run in their history.
April 28 – Chelsea (h), live on Sky Sports
May 2 – Brentford (h), live on Sky Sports
May 7 – Brighton (a), live on Sky Sports
May 22 – Crystal Palace (a)
April 28 – Man United (a) Premier League, live on Sky Sports
May 1 – Everton (a) Premier League, live on Sky Sports
May 7 – Wolves (h) Premier League
May 11 – Leeds (a) Premier League, live on Sky Sports
May 14 – Liverpool (Wembley) FA Cup final
May 19 – Leicester (h) Premier League
May 22 – Watford (h) Premier League