Sunday sees the second of the FA Cup semi-finals take place at Wembley as Chelsea take on Manchester United for the right to face Arsenal in the Final next month.
The two sides are vying in the Premier League to secure a top-four finish and a place in the Champions League in the next campaign, but that rivalry is put aside for now in this one-off match to decide the last remaining finalist.
Chelsea are edging the Premier League battle but have only one point in hand over the Red Devils who have found a new lease of life under Ole Gunnar Solksjaer in recent weeks and this is sure to be a closely-fought contest.
MANCHESTER UNITED THE FORM CHOICE
Both sides arrive at Wembley in good fettle; Chelsea have won four of their last six matches in all competitions, but Manchester United have collected five wins from their last six matches in all competitons and have taken full points in four of their last six matches on the road with two draws.
Solskjaer’s side have bragging rights over Chelsea this term having beaten the Blues in all three matches this season which includes a Carabao Cup clash and they thumped Chelsea 4-0 in the season’s opener last August.
Confidence will be high after grinding out a 2-0 away win at Crystal Palace in midweek, but there were some signs of tiredness which is a slight worry. Solskjaer has been reticent to rotate his squad while on their good run of form and talisman Bruno Fernandes hasn’t looked sharp in his last couple of matches.
However they are still managing to find the net and Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, backed up with Mason Greenwood are scoring with regularity despite the side overall looking somewhat jaded.
Chelsea on the other hand found it hard to break down the already-relegated Norwich City in midweek, eventually scrambling to a 1-0 although their previous 3-0 thumping at the hands of Sheffield United might have left a mark on the Blues’ confidence and they probably won’t be relishing coming up against an in-form Manchester United despite the Red Devils appearing to be running on empty.
GOALS AT BOTH ENDS
Chelsea have managed to amass 33 goals in their last 20 games, although their last failure to hit the net came in that 3-0 defeat by Sheffield United; while their defence has kept out the opposition twice in that six-game spell although they have lost 25 goals in their last 20 matches suggesting the once-formidable Chelsea rearguard isn’t exactly watertight at present.
Conversely, scoring goals is something that Manchester United are doing well and the Red Devils have hit the net 38 times in their last 20 games with almost half of those coming in their last six matches where they’ve scored 16 times in all including a trio of 3-0 victories over Sheffield United, Brighton and Aston Villa.
Manchester United’s defence has been as mean as their attack has been potent, limiting the opposition to just 16 strikes in the last 20 games. Their latest concession came against Southampton who scored a last-gasp equaliser in that game and David De Gea has picked the ball out of the net just four times in their past matches.
CHELSEA FA CUP FORM HARD TO KNOCK
The Blues have already despatched both Liverpool and Leicester enroute to the FA Cup final and they last lifted this trophy in 2018, beating Manchester United in the process so they have the pedigree to take the spoils and advance to the final despite some indifferent league form.
Manchester United though are unbeaten in their last 19 matches in all competitions, winning 14 and drawing five; while they have progressed to the final in 15 of their past 17 matches at the semi-final stage. Their victims on the run to Wembley include Norwich, Wolves and Derby.
HEAD-TO-HEAD FAVOURS UNITED
United have the upper hand on Chelsea with four wins over the Blues from their last six encounters, twice sharing the spoils. In those six games Manchester United have scored 13 goals and conceded just four.
Indeed Chelsea haven’t beaten Manchester United since November 2017 and succumbed to a 2-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge back in February.
BIG MATCH VERDICT
Manchester United might be showing signs of tiredness, but they could hold too much firepower for Chelsea who looked rattled following their 3-0 loss to Sheffield United on their penultimate start. They have since failed to convince in a narrow 1-0 defeat of Norwich while Manchester United ground out a 2-0 victory over a stubborn Crystal Palace.
There looked to be some tired legs in that United side, but their front line continues to find the net with regularity and that trend should continue on Sunday. Chelsea too can find the net, but their back-line could prove vulnerable to United’s pace-filled attack and if Bruno Fernandes can recapture his early season form then it could spell trouble for Frank Lampard’s young side who have had the worst of recent fixtures against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s resurgent United.
This may well be a very tight affair, but Manchester United are taken to advance to next month’s Final against Arsenal with both sides finding the net.
Bet 1: Manchester United to win in 90 minutes, both teams to score and over 3 goals in the match both teams combined @ +700 (Bet365)
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