Match Preview: FA Cup Quarterfinal – Chelsea vs Manchester United

By
Updated: March 12, 2017
Manchester United vs Chelsea

Chelsea play host to Manchester United in the FA Cup Quarterfinals and welcome back former manager José Mourinho for a second time this season. The comfortable 4-0 rout in our league fixture will surely be fresh in the memory of both sides, but don’t expect a similar match this time out. Mourinho’s men have vastly improved since that early season match, and despite having some personnel issues to sort out, they should be a handful.

The Portuguese has never lost an FA Cup Quarterfinal match, but Antonio Conte may be about to change that. The Italian has enjoyed an impressive first season at the helm  – so good that some have compared him to José Mourinho’s first spell in charge.

Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 10 matches in all competitions and have outscored previous FA Cup opponents Peterborough, Brentford and Wolves 10-1. Manchester United are on a good run of form, and most recently won an Europa League match away to Rostov.

Team News

Antonio Conte has a full squad to choose from, as no players are injured or out due to suspension. With the next match a full five days following, it’s likely that we’ll see our strongest lineup. This is a competition we can and should win, despite their being several other quality clubs left in it.

Manchester United are without talismanic Zlatan Ibrahimovic, after the Swede picked up a three match ban for purposefully elbowing a Bournemouth player. Starting Marcus Rashford and/or Wayne Rooney or playing in a false-9 formation are not outside the scope of Mourinho’s tactical choice, so it will be interesting to see who he puts in the starting XI.

Reports from Manchester suggest that neither Rooney, nor Rashford, nor Anthony Martial traveled with the team on the train to London which means not a single recognized striker is in the matchday squad. This could, however, change before tomorrow, as those players may make the trip separately. If they do not, we might end up seeing Marouane Fellaini up top or perhaps even Juan Mata with Jesse Lingard and Ashley Young on either side of him (or nothing like that, at all). It wouldn’t be a shocker for Mourinho to simply be playing mind games ahead of what could be a second straight defeat at the hands of his former employer.

Prediction

Manchester United have been playing well, but they’ve also been playing more often than Chelsea. Having already played 12 more matches than the West Londoners, United are going to have tired players, whether or not they’ve got the best squad in the land. Chelsea have been a well-oiled machine this season and, in Conte’s current starting XI, there are very few weaknesses to pick out. The lack of Ibrahimovic could be pivotal, and the midfield matchup of Kanté vs Pogba will be an interesting one, to be sure.

That Chelsea are playing at home and on full rest could be crucial. Stamford Bridge has been a fortress for them all season long. My prediction: 2-0.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *