LONDON – Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has urged his side to “get the job done” when they host Chelsea in their penultimate English Premier League game on Thursday, needing just one point to secure Champions League football for next season.
The Red Devils are in fourth place in the table on 69 points, one behind Newcastle United who have one game left.
A win against Chelsea and another home victory over Fulham on the last day of the league season on Sunday would ensure that they finish third and above Newcastle.
For now, though, the focus would be on clinching that solitary point needed for a top-four spot.
“First, we have to win the game tomorrow and get the job done. Then it’s about judgement from others if it’s a good, bad or normal performance,” ten Hag said on Wednesday.
“It’s clear. We want to win every game, play dominant football and get the job done.
“We want to compete with the best, then you have to be in the Champions League. In the Premier League, you have to be one of the first four, that’s not easy, many are competing for it, many think they should be in and we are one of them.
“We are in a project, we want to go back and win trophies, we won one trophy (League Cup) but we want more trophies. We are still in a journey, we are in the right direction but it can always be better. Because good is not good enough.”
A win on Thursday, besides securing a Champions League spot, is also crucial so the United boss can rest his key players before their FA Cup final clash with rivals Manchester City on June 3.
His team will be favourites as their home form has been impressive this season. They have conceded just eight goals at Old Trafford the entire season – two of which came in the first match of the season, a 2-1 loss to Brighton & Hove Albion.
Ten Hag’s men have fought back since that defeat, winning 13 of their 17 games so far at the Theatre of Dreams before Thursday. They also claimed victories in their last four on home soil without shipping a goal.
However, United have drawn all their previous five encounters with Chelsea, with October’s clash at Stamford Bridge ending 1-1 for the third time in a row.
This time though, fans would unlikely have much complaints with a point should the game end in a stalemate again.
Ten Hag also confirmed that Marcus Rashford is a minor doubt following illness and looks “quite fit” for the game.
As for Chelsea, Benoit Badiashile is out following a hamstring injury, as confirmed on the club website.
He joins Mason Mount, Ben Chilwell, Armando Broja, N’Golo Kante, Marc Cucurella, Marcus Bettinelli and Reece James in the treatment room, while Mateo Kovacic is a doubt.
The Blues head into the match on the back of a 1-0 loss to newly crowned champions City, which was also caretaker boss Frank Lampard’s seventh defeat from nine games in charge so far.
Chelsea are in 12th place on 43 points – they could finish as high as 11th or as low as 14th, depending on their results in their last two fixtures. Lampard’s men host Champions League-bound Newcastle on Sunday.
“Similar approach to Manchester City, albeit they won the league the night before,” said Lampard when asked how he would prepare for a United side who are raring to go.
“We’ll have to go there with a good mentality.
“The usual requirements and the basics. They’re not easy to switch on. We’ve not met the standard regularly enough, the players need to reach the standard, I think we did against Manchester City.
“If you switch it off, it’s not easy to switch it back on. I think that will be the test.”