Match Previews

Preview: Chelsea vs. Manchester United | FA Cup Final

The final match of the season is here for both these under-pressure clubs.

Hoping to finish their respectively disappointing domestic campaigns well, some passion from Antonio Conte and José Mourinho could spill over on the touchline.

It’s a season-definer for both these teams.

Kick-off: 17:15 [BST]

Venue: Wembley Stadium

Referee: Michael Oliver

The Pensioners

Current run: LDWWW

Road to the final

Semi-final: 2-0 Southampton [N] (Giroud, Morata)

Quarter-final: Leicester City 1-2 [A] (Morata, Pedro)

Fifth round: 4-0 Hull City [H] (Willian x2, Pedro, Giroud)

Fourth round: 3-0 Newcastle United [H] (Batshuayi x2, Alonso)

Third round: 0-0/1-1 Norwich City [A]/[H] (Batshuayi)

Top scorer: Eden Hazard [12]

Most assists: Willian [7]

One to watch: Marcos Alonso

Injuries/suspensions (estimated return)

  • Ethan Ampadu; ankle (pre-season)
  • Danny Drinkwater; groin (day to day)
  • David Luiz; knee (back in training)

Team breakdown

Despite going from reigning champions to once again flopping as they finished in 5th place, this volatile squad can beat anyone on their day.

Operating in that well-documented 3-4-3, goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is protected by a trio of Cesar Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen and skipper Gary Cahill who all offer different defensive aspects.

Moving up the pitch, wing backs Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso have mastered their trade by offering qualities in their box as well as regular tenacious play on the flanks.

Holding the middle of the park, the energetic N’Golo Kanté is partnered by the composed Cesc Fàbregas with Nemanja Matić being pivotal in that role for them last year as they reached this same final.

The decision up front is difficult for Conte as Eden Hazard and Willian with play around either former Arsenal man Olivier Giroud or United target Álvaro Morata as a lone central focal point.

Even if they are formidable at times, this team can be opened up on the counter attack due to their naïvety (as seen in last season’s Old Trafford fixture) but can soak up pressure and dig in when it’s needed (as seen in last season’s Stanford Bridge fixture) so as ever, it’s difficult to face the Blues away from home.

What the manager said:

“This game is very important because we can finish a difficult season with a trophy. It’s important for the players, the coach and the fans to finish the season with a trophy”

Results this season:

1-0 (Morata)

2-1 (Lukaku, Lingard) (Willian)

The Red Devils

Talking points

United have a superb recent record at Wembley as they have won in all of their last 6 cup visits to the capital but do struggle in London nowadays.

Team news

Mourinho could match his opponents by playing a 3-4-3 formation but his 4-3-3 team that played in the semi-final might do the trick.

David De Gea should return in goal in spite of Sergio Romero playing all-but-one game (the semi-final) in the cup campaign this time out.

Antonio Valencia, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Ashley Young and/or Victor Lindelöf are set to start at the back.

Nemanja Matić will return to the squad to face his former side – likely alongside Paul Pogba (who needs to prove himself in a big game) and/or Ander Herrera (who has had notable outings against Chelsea).

Jesse Lingard, Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sánchez should all play as their combination heavily troubled Tottenham Hotspur in the semi-final (the same side Chelsea beat last year to reach this stage).

From the bench, Marouane Fellaini, Juan Antony Martial (if fit), Juan Mata, and Marcus Rashford can all offer different solutions if the Reds have a problem.

What the manager said:

“I’m not going to analyse them because of one very important match. But I know what my players did, I know what I put in, I know the effort, I know the positive things, I know the negative things and I’m not going to change my analysis of the season because of the result of one match. Not at all”

Possible key battles

– Hazard vs. Jones

– Kanté vs. Pogba

– Fábregas vs. Lingard

– Alonso vs. Valencia

– Azpilicueta vs. Sánchez

Match facts

  • This will be Manchester United’s 20th FA Cup final – a joint-record with Arsenal, while only the Gunners (13) have won the trophy more than the Red Devils (12)
  • This is Chelsea’s 13th appearance in the showpiece – they lost last year’s final against Arsenal and could become the first team to lose consecutive FA Cup finals since Newcastle in 1998 and 1999
  • This is the third time these sides have met in the FA Cup final, making it the joint-most played final in the history of the competition (Arsenal vs Liverpool, Arsenal vs Newcastle and Aston Villa vs West Brom also three)
  • United won 4-0 in 1994 as part of their first top-flight and FA Cup double, while Chelsea won 1-0 in 2007 in the first final played at the new Wembley Stadium
  • Chelsea are unbeaten in their last four FA Cup Finals against Man Utd (W3 D1) – since a 2-0 loss in a quarter-final replay in 1998-99
  • Sánchez scored in last season’s final with Arsenal, and could become the first player to score in consecutive cup finals with different clubs as well as increasing his Wembley tally of 8 goals in 8 games
  • Giroud has been directly involved in 22 goals in his 26 FA Cup appearances (15 goals, 7 assists), more than any other player in the competition since his debut
  • Lukaku has scored 12 goals in his last 12 FA Cup appearances, including five in five for United
  • Conte could become the first manager to lose consecutive FA Cup finals since Howard Kendall in 1985 and 1986
  • The wife of the late Ray Wilkins (who played for both teams) will present the trophy to the winners

UK television channel: BBC1/BT Sport 2

Enjoy the match!

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