Tonight sees one of the biggest games in the Premier League taking place at Old Trafford between two teams who, over the years, have generally been in and around the title race.

However, tonight’s game between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford will not have anywhere near as much on the line with both teams well off the pace in the race for the title and both now hoping to secure Champions League football with a top four finish.

For Chelsea, that should be a given as they have a game in hand on most of the teams around them, two games in hand on some and they have a comfortable gap in third spot of the table down to Arsenal in fourth.

But for United, another defeat at the weekend meant that they are now in danger of falling out of that race for fourth, with Arsenal and Spurs having more points and also a game in hand on the Red Devils.

So, tonight’s game is one that United really can’t afford to lose if they are to stay in contention for Champions League football next season. That is a must for a team if they want to attract some of the top stars to the club this summer.

But there is another battle ongoing here at both clubs, which has nothing to do with league position and which has everything to do with the futures of both.

Before we take a closer look at the issues facing both teams, let’s first take a look at tonight’s game.

All odds shown in this article are provided by bet365 Sport and were correct at the time of writing, but may change in the run up to the game.

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Manchester United v Chelsea

Tonight’s game sees Manchester United, who lie 6th in the table having played 34 games and amassing 54 points, take on a Chelsea side in 3rd who have played 32 games and landed 65 points.

However, United’s eyes won’t be on Chelsea, but on Spurs and Arsenal who lie four and six points clear of them, both having played a game less.

Therefore, it is imperative for United to win this game to stand any chance of catching Spurs and Arsenal in that race for fourth, as a defeat or even a draw here could well put the two London clubs out of sight.

United have won just one of their last six games, that coming against bottom club Norwich, and their stuttering form has seen them drop out of the top four.

Chelsea got back to winning ways last weekend at home to West Ham, but their away form has been pretty solid with wins over Southampton and at Real Madrid in recent weeks, so the Londoners won’t be too fazed heading to an out of sorts United here.

Chelsea are the 23/20 favourites to win the game tonight, with United 11/5 and the draw a 5/2 option. In truth, I think Chelsea should be more than confident of landing the win here, seeing as Man City beat United 4-1 and Liverpool beat United 4-0 in recent weeks.

So I’d back Chelsea to land the win here at 23/20 and if I was going for a correct score option, I’d back a 3-1 win for Chelsea which is an 18/1 chance at present with bet365.

More intriguing may the issues that both clubs now find themselves in, both very different but equally worrying for their fans.

The Implosion Of Manchester United

It was never going to be easy following Sir Alex Ferguson as Manchester United manager. Five different managers have tried. Some have landed silverware, but since Ferguson retired, United’s decline has been clearly evident.

This season has seen new lows. Fans have been hyper-critical of some of their key signings with the likes of Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, Alex Telles and Fred all singled out for heavy criticism.

A lack of form from players like those listed above plus Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Edinson Cavani has meant that United all-too often have struggled and the results of that have been palpable.

In their two league games against Manchester City, Unlted lost both, scoring one goal, conceding six. Against Liverpool, an even more fierce rival, it was a case of humiliation as United not only lost both but conceded nine goals (including five at Old Trafford) without finding the net in two heavy defeats.

Unhappiness with the Glazer Family owners, a ground which is dire need of work to bring it up to standards and with ex-United stars heavily critical of the club, it is a torrid time for the Red Devils.

Erik Ten Hag has been appointed as the new manager to replace Ralf Rangnick from next season, but the task he has is an onerous one. United’s problems lie so deep that it is going to take a lot more than a change of manager and tactics to resolve.

With players talking about issues within the dressing room, Luke Shaw admitting playing for England is a break away from the issues at United, and many players confidence apparently shot, this is a massive job for anyone taking it on and it is likely to require some difficult decisions and the shipping out of some high earning stars to resolve.

The Chelsea Takeover

On the pitch, Chelsea were going well this season up until Russia invaded Ukraine and the British Government looked to sanction owner Roman Abramovich.

Abramovich moved the club ownership into a trust until he could find a buyer, but this has been complicated with a freeze on Oligarchs being able to cash in assets in countries. There are plenty of interested buyers for Chelsea, but the price for the club is dropping.

The real issue facing the club though is the fact that they cannot sell tickets to home games, meaning only season ticket holders can attend. Nor can they make merchandising sales.

More worryingly, Chelsea are barred from offering new contracts to players, making signings or sales of players. This has already led to defender Antonio Rudiger signing a pre-contract deal with Real Madrid ahead of next season. Other players could follow suit.

Having lost the Carabao Cup Final to Liverpool on penalties, Chelsea then went out of the Champions League to Real Madrid, and their league form has seen them drop well off the pace being set by City and Liverpool at the top. An FA Cup Final awaits in a couple of weeks, where they will take on Liverpool once again.

However, with financial concerns and manager Thomas Tuchel admitting that the off-field situation is affecting everyone at the club, it’s little wonder that Chelsea’s performances on the field have dropped off a little in recent times.

The ownership issue needs sorting for Chelsea to get back on track, but this doesn’t look like being a quick process and in the meantime, the Londoners could well see more of their players move elsewhere without being able to offer them a chance to stay.

So tonight’s game is more than just a battle for three points, for both teams, it is a chance to perhaps feel some positivity after all the off-field issues that have dogged them of late.