Wembley Stadium is the venue for Saturday’s FA Cup Final between Antonio Conte’s Chelsea and Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United as both teams battle it out against the backdrop of disappointing seasons. The feud between the two managers seems to have cooled but that doesn’t take away from the fact that there are a whole host of subplots to be picked apart in this encounter.
David Luiz, Ethan Ampadu and Emerson will all be missing for the Blues through injury while Danny Drinkwater isn’t match fit but could feature.
Thibaut Courtois is expected to start in goal despite Willy Caballero playing for Chelsea’s entire cup run this season.
Manchester United could be without former Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku and the Belgian a doubt with an ankle problem.
Anthony Martial is also expected to be available for the Red Devils
Probable Chelsea XI (3-5-2): Courtois; Azpilicueta, Cahill, Rudiger; Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Bakayoko, Alonso; Hazard, Giroud.
Probable Man Utd XI (4-3-3): De Gea; Valencia, Smalling, Bailly, Young; Herrera, Matic, Pogba; Lingard, Lukaku, Sanchez.
From a Chelsea point of view, you can see Nemanja Matic playing an important part in this final. Whether that be stifling the attacking threat of Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas or scoring from long range, he’s bound to have his say against his former teammates.
Hazard has come under criticism for his previous performances against United against Old Trafford but has shone in recent weeks. He’ll have to avoid the captures of Ander Herrera and Matic if he’s going to have the impact on the game that Chelsea will surely need.
Even though he may not start, Alvaro Morata could prove to be a key figure in the way the game pans out. If United are leading, Morata will almost certainly be deployed by Antonio Conte and Chelsea fans will be hoping he can have the same kind of impact he did against the Red Devils earlier the in season at Stamford Bridge.
These two heavyweights of English football have met twice before in FA Cup finals. The first came in 1994 when Chelsea were denied their first trophy for over 20 years by Alex Ferguson’s United side in a 4-0 drubbing. The latest final between the two was the first final to be held at the new Wembley in 2007 when a Didier Drogba strike in extra time was enough to secure the cup for Jose Mourinho’s side.
The Blues are unbeaten in their last four FA Cup ties against United, the last of them coming last season when N’Golo Kante won it for Chelsea.
This fixture is the most common in the history of Wembley Stadium in all competitions with these two teams meeting seven times before at the national stadium.
Chelsea have won four of their last five FA Cup finals with the only recent loss coming last season against Arsenal where United’s Alexis Sanchez got the opener.
In fact, the Chilean has eight Wembley goals during his career, including two in his two previous FA Cup finals.
Lots of questions are there to be answered on Saturday. Will Romelu Lukaku or Alvaro Morata score against their former suitors? Will it be Eden Hazard’s or Antonio Conte’s last games for Chelsea? Will Jose Mourinho get one over on his former club? But one thing is for certain, with the final being played between two of his former teams, Ray Wilkins will be fondly remembered before, during and after the game.