A spot in the finals of the 2020/21 FA Cup will be on the line when Chelsea face off against Manchester City at the Wembley Stadium on Saturday.
After six rounds of action-packed, gruelling football, only four teams remain in the 2020/21 FA Cup. And on Saturday, one of the places in the final of the competition will be up for grabs as Chelsea get ready to take on Premier League rivals Manchester City at Wembley.
Chelsea have had a fairly easy run in the FA Cup having come up against lower league clubs Morecambe, Luton Town and Barnsley in the third, fourth and fifth rounds, respectively, before they eased past Sheffield United 2-0 in the quarter-finals to make it to the penultimate stages. Having made it as far as the finals last time, the Blues will be hoping to go a step further this time.
Thomas Tuchel’s side are going through a bit of a mixed patch of form though, winning and losing two each of their last four games, with the latest one ending in a 1-0 defeat to FC Porto this week in the UEFA Champions League.
Manchester City, too, were handed a fairly comfortable draw through the FA Cup as they saw off challenges from Birmingham City, Cheltenham and Swansea City before breezing past Everton 2-0 to set up a semi-final date against Chelsea. Having suffered a shock defeat to Leeds United last weekend, the Cityzens recovered well and beat Borussia Dortmund in their most recent fixture in the Champions League.
Manchester City will be hoping to keep the hopes of an unprecedented quadruple alive, having made it to the finals of the Carabao Cup and the semi-finals of the Champions League with the Premier League title firmly in their grasp.
Ahead of this exciting contest between two brilliant tactical minds in Tuchel and Pep Guardiola coming our way from Wembley on Saturday evening, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.
Team News & Tactics
The key team news and thoughts from the boss ahead of tomorrow's #FACup semi-final! 📝💭
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) April 16, 2021
Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has confirmed that he will have to make do without two players – Mateo Kovacic and Andreas Christensen for the big FA Cup clash on Saturday. Other than that though, the German has all his players available for selection as he gets ready to square off against Pep Guardiola.
Minimal changes are expected to be made to the side that lost narrowly to FC Porto earlier this week. The first alteration should come in goal, where Kepa Arrizabalaga steps into the lineup in place of first-choice custodian Edouard Mendy.
The back three of Cesar Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger is expected to remain intact, although the trio could face problems against the fleet-footed Manchester City attackers. Reece James and Ben Chilwell ought to be the two wing-backs again as they offer a little more defensively than Callum Hudson-Odoi and Marcos Alonso. The onus will be on them to provide the width while attacking as well.
Jorginho, who put in a fine defensive display against FC Porto earlier in the week, will be hoping to continue from where he left off and cut of Manchester City’s creative supply from midfield with the help of his midfielder partner N’Golo Kante. Mason Mount and Christian Pulisic will carry the major attacking threat for Chelsea from the attacking midfield region while Kai Havertz should continue operating as the No.9 once again.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Arrizabalaga; Azpilicueta, Silva, Rudiger; James, Kante, Jorginho, Chilwell; Mount, Pulisic; Havertz
Sergio Aguero, who has emerged as a transfer target for Chelsea ahead of the summer transfer window, is set to miss out due to a lack of fitness. Apart from the veteran striker, Pep Guardiola has a full-strength squad to select from as he takes his side to London this weekend.
Zack Steffen, who has been the designated goalkeeper for the cup competitions, should come in for Ederson Moraes while there could be a couple of changes in the backline as well. Joao Cancelo, who was left out against Borussia Dortmund, should slot in at left-back ahead of Oleksandr Zinchenko and Benjamin Mendy.
Stepping-up the work for Wembley! 💪
— Manchester City (@ManCity) April 16, 2021
Aymeric Laporte should also get a run out in the side, at the expense of John Stones. The Frenchman will partner Ruben Dias at the heart of the Manchester City defence while Kyle Walker continues as the right-back, hoping to keep a lid on the threat posed by Christian Pulisic.
Rodri is a certain starter at the base of the Manchester City midfield from where he will look to cut out attacks and recycle possession effectively. Ilkay Gundogan will provide defensive support when needed and look to make late runs into the box to add more numbers in the final third. Kevin De Bruyne will be the Cityzens’ main creative outlet against his former employers.
Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden, who were on the scoresheet in the midweek clash against Dortmund, should hold on to their places out wide. Raheem Sterling should slot in centrally, operating as a false nine, with Gabriel Jesus an option from the bench for Guardiola.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Steffen; Walker, Dias, Laporte, Cancelo; De Bruyne, Rodri, Gundogan; Mahrez, Sterling, Foden
- Chelsea have lost four of their last five FA Cup meetings against Manchester City. However, they did win their most recent clash against the Cityzens in the competition back in 2016.
- Manchester City have won six of their last nine matches against Chelsea across all competitions (D1 L2) beating the Blues 3-1 at Stamford Bridge already once this season.
- Chelsea have won seven of their last eight FA Cup semi-final ties. However, the only defeat in this run did come against Manchester City back in 2013.
- Manchester City have won nine of their last 11 FA Cup semi-final matches. Their two defeats during this run at this stage of the competition have both come against Arsenal (2017 and 2020).
- Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola is unbeaten in all five of his managerial meetings with Chelsea’s Thomas Tuchel (W3 D2).
Player to Watch
Kevin De Bruyne
Kevin De Bruyne has the 3rd highest assist per 90 ratio in the history of the whole sport, oh my days pic.twitter.com/bMZU68RHBS
— ¹⁰ (@SxrgioSZN) April 16, 2021
Manchester City have not needed De Bruyne a great deal in the FA Cup, with him having featured twice in the competition so far, totalling up to only 55 minutes of action. But, given the magnitude of Saturday’s clash, the Cityzens will look up to their main man to deliver a big performance.
It has been another splendid season for the 29-year-old who has eight goals and sixteen assists from 34 matches across all competitions. The Belgian superstar has been involved in nine goals in his last eight FA Cup matches, scoring four and setting up five more for his teammates. Having torn the Chelsea side apart in the league fixture earlier this season, De Bruyne will be hoping to do so again on Saturday.
Chelsea 1-2 Manchester City
Chelsea have vastly improved from the last time they met Manchester City this season. Under Thomas Tuchel they have grown into a resolute defensive unit that is tough to break down. And even though there remain some chinks in the armour as far as attack is concerned, the form of Mason Mount and Christian Pulisic should bring optimism.
At the same time, Manchester City also boast one of the best defences in England this term and have developed a fluid, attacking system where each player carries a major threat. So, we can expect a close encounter between the two teams this weekend at Wembley. However, given the form that Phil Foden and Kevin De Bruyne have been in, Pep Guardiola & co. should be able to see out the challenge posed by Tuchel’s men.