Manchester United and Chelsea will be battling it out at the Wembley Stadium on Sunday for a spot in the FA Cup final against Arsenal.
Manchester United have had a dream of a second half of the 2019-20 season. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer seems to have found his best eleven and sticking to it has seen United reap the rewards, with the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood on a swansong.
Chelsea have been living vicariously in their endeavours to finish in the top four and grab one of the Champions League spots for next season. Frank Lampard has seen a mixed bag of results since the restart but will be hoping his boys rise to the occasion, with a spot in the FA Cup final up for grabs on Sunday.
Ole’s Manchester United have already beaten a few top sides on their way to the FA Cup semi-final and will be itching to get their hands on their first piece of silverware under their current manager. Chelsea on the other hand, will look at this game as a way to exact revenge for the three defeats suffered at the hands of Manchester United so far this season.
Ahead of the big FA Cup semi-final between two old foes, we take a close look at their squads.
Team News & Tactics
It will be difficult to predict what sort of lineup Ole Gunnar Solskjaer might go with against Chelsea on Sunday, given the lack of recovery time for players from the Crystal Palace win on Thursday. Still, we should see the obvious choices in David De Gea, Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka be part of the Manchester United defence.
Luke Shaw and Brandon Williams had both suffered injuries and while Shaw might be a few days away from fitness, we should ideally see Brandon Williams recovered and starting on the left. Ole might decide to give Victor Lindelof a bit of rest. Should this happen, there is a slight chance of him playing Timothy Fosu-Mensah, who was impressive on the left against Palace.
But, ideally, we should see Eric Bailly come in for Lindelof and slot in beside Maguire. In midfield, a well-rested Nemanja Matic is guaranteed to start, with Paul Pogba the likely option forming the base pivot. Bruno Fernandes has proven to be not just talented but a workhorse and should be available for another start.
In attack, there is no looking beyond Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford. Although, Mason Greenwood has struggled a bit and Daniel James might be in with a chance to get a look in, Solskjaer is likely to retain the Manchester United academy product for the big game. Odion Ighalo will be hoping to make an impact from the bench.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire, Williams; Matic, Pogba; Greenwood, Fernandes, Rashford; Martial
Frank Lampard will be feeling the pressure of avoiding a quadruple of defeats against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in a single season while also hoping to reach the FA Cup final. But, their hopes have been dented heavily, with an injury to golden boy Billy Gilmour along with the fact that N’Golo Kante is unfit and might miss out on Sunday.
Kepa Arrizabalaga was the keeper of choice from Lampard against Norwich. But, the Chelsea manager might go for the experienced Willy Caballero against Manchester United. The pairing of Antonio Rudiger and Kurt Zouma should continue in central defence while Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso guard the flanks.
The three-man midfield should ideally see Jorginho at the base, with Kante and Gilmour out. Mateo Kovacic is likely to be given the nod to start, with Mason Mount dropping in to fill the last slot.
In attack, Olivier Giroud has risen to the occasion after Tammy Abraham’s disappointing performances since the restart and the World Cup winner is likely to start against Manchester United on Sunday. Contract rebel Willian should start on the right, with an in-form Christian Pulisic on the left.
Lampard might actually go for a pseudo 4-2-3-1 setup, with Mount going forward and playing in the hole when Chelsea get the ball while Jorginho and Kovacic play as the double pivot in order to stifle the Manchester United creative outlets.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Caballero; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Zouma, Alonso; Kovacic, Jorginho, Mount; Willian, Giroud, Pulisic
1. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has never lost to Frank Lampard in three managerial bouts (W3) so far between the two.
2. Chelsea have conceded (8) double the number of goals compared to Manchester United (4) in their last five matches in all competitions.
3. Manchester United are currently on a 19-game unbeaten run this season in all competitions.
4. Chelsea have conceded 8 goals and scored just once in three meetings against Manchester United in all competitions this season.
5. Bruno Fernandes has 7 goals and as many assists in 12 Premier League matches since joining Manchester United in January.
Player to Watch
Once hailed as a changed man under Frank Lampard, Jorginho has struggled to start many games this season, perhaps due to a reported falling out with Frank Lampard over his future plans. There have also been rumours linking him to an exit, with reports circulating that Jorginho might be looking for a move in the summer.
But, Jorginho has shown he has the same gumption whenever fit and selected. Against a talented and hard-working Manchester United midfield, it will be up to the Italian international to ensure Chelsea not only stifle their opposition and shrink their creative outlets but also build up play well and navigate United’s pressing tendencies.
Jorginho will also be key on catching quick counters, which seems to be one of the main components in United’s attacking arsenal.
Manchester United 3-1 Chelsea
Fitness will play an important role and Chelsea already have an upper hand in that region, having been afforded an extra day of rest due to the restart schedule. Manchester United’s defence has looked sloppy a few times every game and it will be up to the Chelsea players to take advantage of every opportunity presented to them.
For Manchester United, their saving grace has been their attack. With the quartet of Bruno, Martial, Rashford and Greenwood on fire, Ole will have very little to be troubled about the attacking side of things. It is likely to be a messy game, with errors from both sides.
Manchester United though, seem to be the in-form side and should take the second FA Cup Final slot. A 3-1 win for the Red Devils on Sunday is what we expect.