Chelsea face Manchester United this Sunday at 6pm in the Semi-Final of the FA Cup. Make no mistake about it, this is an absolutely mouthwatering clash not only because of the sides involved, but because of their history this season.
In total, Chelsea have met Manchester United three times this season. On the opening weekend of the Premier League, a good first half performance in which Chelsea hit the post twice was then torn apart by a clinical United side who eventually ran out 4-0 winners. There was a chance for revenge when the sides met again at the end of October in the League Cup, the game appeared to be going down to the line until an absolutely sensational 35-yard free kick stunned Stamford Bridge into silence. The sides met most recently in February in a highly controversial game, VAR inexplicably took no action on a vicious Harry Maguire kick out at Michy Batshuayi, before a perfectly good Olivier Giroud goal was also ruled out leaving a bitter taste in Chelsea fans mouths.
So, Sunday evening game against Manchester United marks the 4th time these sides have met this season. Can this be the game where Frank Lampard finally betters Ole Gunnar Solskjær? The occasion will be somewhat strange in an empty Wembley, but that doesn’t diminish the importance of the occasion.
Both sides are due an extremely hectic end to the season with each still engrossed in a race for Champions League football. Chelsea are currently in the driving seat, but with tough games against both Liverpool and Wolves coming up, qualification is anything but a certainty. Ole Gunnar Solskjær will be left with a tough decision here, his side have two days less rest and have an equally important game against an inform West Ham side on Wednesday night. Solskjær has already hinted at slightly weakened side with both Lingard and Sergio Romero expected to feature.
Luke Shaw is also ruled out for the game and it’s unknown whether Brandon Williams will feature after a facial injury against Crystal Palace. N’Golo Kanté will miss the game through a knee injury. The biggest question going into this game will be whether Chelsea’s defence can weather wave after wave of Manchester United attacks. Anthony Martial has looked particularly devastating in recent weeks and this Chelsea side will do well to stop him scoring.
I can’t quite believe the attitude of some people I’ve seen with regards to this game. The FA Cup is the greatest domestic cup in the world and it should be the desire of every single player to go as far in this great cup as they can. Frank Lampard knows this too, he won it four times as a player and would love to win it as the manager. He will put out the team which gives them the very best chance of coming back to Wembley at the start of August.
Unfortunately, the games against Manchester United have so far caused Chelsea fans far more pain than they would ever have expected going into this season. This time I do genuinely believe that the mentality Lampard will instil in his players prior to the game will be the difference. Furthermore, the two days extra rest will leave these players in a far better position physically compared to their Manchester United counterparts. All in all, this suggests to me that a 3-1 Chelsea result is on the cards.
What I really want? Please just win Chelsea.