The 2018 FA Cup Final (Looking Ahead)

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The 2018 FA Cup Final (Looking Ahead)

Date : July 27,2018
Author : Asher K Categories :

Two teams, one last glorious shot

Chelsea and Manchester United face each other on Saturday in the 137th FA Cup final, with both looking for silverware at the end of a season of mixed success. United will look to match Arsenal’s record of 13 FA Cup title wins following a victory on Saturday, after a seemingly lackluster season where they were comprehensively beaten in the race to the league title, finishing a distant second to City. Chelsea will be in the hunt for their 8th FA Cup title looking to finish the season on an upbeat mood around Stamford Bridge, after what can best be described as an underwhelming nine months for the East London club. Conte's last title with the club as well.

Preview

The Red Devils have been criticised for their defensive nature under Jose Mourinho. Nobody likes silencing their critics quite like the Special One and should United get the job done at Wembley, his performance at Old Trafford will be significantly reframed after a tough campaign, and the indication of progress under Mourinho would be strengthened with back-to-back seasons of silverware under the Portuguese maestro.

Conte won the Premier League in his maiden season at Stamford Bridge but speculation over his future at the club started before his side had even started the defense of their title. The Blues finished fifth, without spending a single day at the top of the table, and will play in the Europa League next season.

Winning the famous competition is of greater impact on the legacy of Antonio Conte, as the Italian coach aims to soften the blow of missing out on Champions League qualification. It might even be his final act as Blues boss and he will be desperate to bid adieu in style.

Probable Lineups

The line-up that Jose Mourinho played against Spurs in the semi-final is regarded as his strongest and he will in all likelihood stick with the same eleven that came from behind to take command over the match against the North Londoners. Lukaku has traveled with the squad and is likely to be included in the first eleven for the first time since coming off injured against Arsenal on 29th of April.

For Antonio Conte sorting his attacking and defensive options has proven to be the Achilles heel in his second season in charge of the Blues, poor performances in these departments has led them to ship more goals than desired while not scoring enough to make up for the conceded goals. However, he must recall his number one showstopper for this vital game and utilize the experience of Gary Cahill at the back. In terms of his attacking options, based on performance alone it is a no-brainer that he starts with Giroud ahead of the Spaniard Alvaro Morata, who seems to be having a slightly uninspiring first season in England.

Predicted Line-up(Manchester United)-
David De Gea, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Antonio Valencia, Ashley Young, Ander Herrera, Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic, Alexis Sanchez, Jesse Lingard, Romelu Lukaku

Predicted Line-Up(Chelsea)
- Thibaut Courtois, Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger, Gary Cahill, Victor Moses, Cesc Fabregas, N’Golo Kante, Marcos Alonso, Willian, Eden Hazard, Olivier Giroud


Key matchups—


De Gea v/s Courtois

There hasn’t been a better shot stopper in terms of the impact created on the game like De Gea for the past few seasons, and United will be looking to their talismanic goalkeeper to come through with some match winning saves if they're to maintain their solidity at the back. Courtois hasn’t fared badly in the league at all, with only two keepers keeping more clean sheets than him, although he hasn’t been given a run in the FA Cup the whole season, as the manager preferred rotating his keepers giving Willy Cabellero the nod in all the previous ties. But expect the Belgium shot-stopper to return for this one, as he is a big name for the big games and is surely expected to have an impact at the back for Chelsea.

Herrera v/s Kante

The midfield battle is most likely to decide the result of this game, and two key players that will be sure to step up for the big occasion are the Frenchman N’Golo Kante for Chelsea and Ander Herrera for the Red Devils. They will be key in making most of the game go through them while cutting off lanes for the opposing strikers and wingers, something the two of them have done with great reliability for more than two seasons at the highest level.

Sanchez v/s Hazard

With Romelu Lukaku returning late from injury, the Belgian international will look a little bit leaden, so the key to United's success upfront could be Alexis Sanchez, who has improved significantly of late. In the FA Cup semi-final, he seemed like the player we all knew, and United really need a repeat performance from him at Wembley.
Chelsea has the best attacker on either side in Eden Hazard, and it doesn’t take the magician from Belgium much effort to turn matches in his sides favor when he’s up for it and has the team playing to his strengths. Expect him to drift around the attacking midfield positions and cause a real challenge for the United defenders, who will know they can’t allow him even the slightest bit of free space.

Conclusion

Although it may appear that the FA Cup isn’t top priority for either of these clubs at the start of the season, there is no denying that once in the final both the teams will look to fight till the last minute to claim the crown, as a season is best judged by the silverware won by teams and both these sides are gunning for their first real chance of lifting a trophy this season.
There is potential for fireworks heading into this tie: it will only take one incident, and you suspect that if either manager is going to start something like that, it will be Mourinho.

Match Odds

Manchester United are favorites to win the game with most betting websites pricing them at 5/6 to lift the cup. Chelsea's chances are rated evens to lift their eight FA cup crown which they did with a Hazard penalty, winning the game 1-0.

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