Chelsea and Manchester United will rekindle old rivalry as they battle each other in the 137th FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium on Saturday evening, this will be a repeat of the 2007 FA Cup final showpiece between both clubs at the same venue.
Chelsea’s season has not gone according to plan, it started right from the very first match of the 2017/18 season when Burnley shocked the then Premier League defending Champions 3-2 at Stamford Bridge. The Blues eventually finished fifth in the league with 70 points, which is 23 points less than their total points haul for last season.
While Manchester United arguably had a better season than Chelsea, the Red Devil’s finished second in the Premier League which is a marked improvement since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson from coaching four years ago.
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Both teams didn’t do well in the Champion’s League as they were kicked out in the first knockout round of the competition by Spanish oppositions, Chelsea bowed out to Barcelona while United surprisingly lost to Sevilla.
Chelsea coach Antonio Conte has been under immense pressure and speculation are rife that he will not be the man at the helm of affairs come next season. Even if Chelsea were to win an eighth FA Cup title on Saturday, it remains to be seen whether the Italian coach would want to remain at the Bridge next season.
Conte’s men lost last year’s FA Cup final to the Gunners in a hugely disappointing defeat, it is certain that the Blues would want to banish that horrible memory and give their fans something to cherish by lifting the most prestigious FA Cup in the World.
Chelsea has won the FA Cup seven times and four out of that number has been in the last 11 years, starting with the 2006/07 FA Cup victory over United in 2007, that was the first Cup final to be held at the then newly revamped Wembley stadium. However, the Blues have not tasted FA Cup glory since 2012.
The Red Devils’ has won the FA Cup twelve times with the most recent success in the competition coming in 2016 when United dispatched Crystal Palace 2-1 in the final to lift the trophy, the win meant that Louis van Gaal ended his era at United with a parting gift for United fans.
Another FA Cup win on Saturday will be United’s second FA Cup final triumph in three seasons, and the Red Devil’s will equal Arsenal’s record of thirteen FA Cup wins. A victory will give United ‘s coach Jose Mourinho a perfect opportunity to shame his critics and prove that he is still hungry for success.
Romelu Lukaku returned to training on Tuesday after spending more than two weeks out with an ankle injury. Marouane Fellaini, who is having issues putting pen to paper to a new contract is doubtful for the match on Saturday. Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic are expected to anchor United’s midfield against Chelsea.
Sergio Romero may be overlooked for the final despite starting most of the Red Devils’ FA Cup matches en route to the final, he is likely to be replaced in goal by David de Gea.
Danny Drinkwater will not play for Chelsea, he is out with a calf strain, while David Luiz who has has been out for quite some time is still not fit for this match. Conte will likely pick Olivier Giroud ahead of Alvaro Morata in the attack, while Hazard and Willian will play through the flanks.
Just like Mourinho, the Blues coach is likely to pick Thibaut Courtois to start the final ahead of Willy Caballero.
Head To Head
This will be the eighth time that United will be playing Chelsea at Wembley. However, this will be their first meeting at the Wembley stadium since the 2010 Community Shield, which the Blues lost 3-1.
The last FA Cup tie between the sides finished in a 1-0 win for Chelsea in last season’s quarter-final at Stamford Bridge, with N’Golo Kante netting a rare and decisive goal.
Chelsea Possible Starting Lineup:
Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Hazard, Willian; Giroud
Manchester United Possible Starting Lineup::
De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Rojo, Young; Herrera, Matic, Pogba; Sanchez, Lukaku, Mata
Man United arguably have more momentum on their side thanks to their second-place finish in the Premier League. Chelsea, in what could be Conte’s final match in charge, are aiming to avoid back-to-back final defeats but have their work cut out on current form.
It is going to be a very tight match at Wembley, the match could go either way but we think that Chelsea will claim a narrow 2-1 victory, it might even extend to extra time, let’s just keep our fingers crossed and watch the drama unfold at Wembley on Saturday.