The FA Cup, the oldest cup competition in the world dating all the way back to the 1871-72 season. There is something about cup competitions that make it special, probably the fact that they’re knockout games, past reputations don’t matter, the size of the club doesn’t matter, stats don’t matter the only thing that does matter is a team’s performance on the day.
So 146 years since the first FA Cup competition, let’s try to analyze how 2018 finalists Manchester United and set themselves up for this mouthwatering encounter.
After an underwhelming season that saw 2016/17 Champions Chelsea finish 5th in the Premier League, Antonio Conte would be hoping to save his season and potentially his job by winning the FA Cup. Furthermore, Conte may become the first manager since Everton’s Howard Kendall (1986) to lose consecutive FA Cup Finals, A record which he wouldn’t want against his name.
Chelsea lost 3-0 against Newcastle United, they will have to quickly forget that result and move on.
Predicted XI: Courtois, Alonso, Cahill, Rudiger, Azpilicueta, Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Bakayoko, Giroud, Hazard.
Strengths: If Eden Hazard can march into Wembley all guns blazing, there is no stopping Chelsea. Cesc Fabregas will need to be at his creative best and the onus will be upon him to create as many chances as possible.
Manchester United’s season, in contrast, has been a good one barring Champions Manchester City no team seems to have hit the consistency and organization of United. With assured Champions League football next season United would want to finish on a high. Manager Jose Mourinho would be looking to finish his second season as United Boss with a trophy to satisfy the huge expectations of United’s fans
United beat Watford 1-0 in their last Premier League victory and would be hoping that they can get a positive result at Wembley.
Predicted XI: De Gea, Valencia, Jones, Smalling, Young, Matic, Pogba, Herrera, Sanchez, Lukaku, Rashford
Strengths: Custodian David De Gea is arguably the best in the world and Chelsea could struggle against him. Pogba and Matic are solid in midfield and will look to cancel out the threat of N’Golo Kante. Like Most Jose Mourinho teams, United are very well organized in defense especially full-backs Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia who seem rejuvenated under the Portuguese Manager.
Weakness: Alexis Sanchez’s form has been poor and with Romelu LukakuRomelu Lukaku returning from an injury, United could be struggling to take their chances in the final third. Jones and Smalling have been good but are prone to making mistakes.
A Battle within the Battle:
Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho haven’t been anything but shy and their ‘War of words’ has really turned some heads in the Football world. It would be interesting to see who comes out on top and who has the last laugh.