FA Cup Preview: Manchester United vs. Chelsea

The Emirates FA Cup final kicks off on Saturday with Manchester United taking on Chelsea at the hallowed ground of Wembley Stadium. Manchester United is aiming for its 13th FA Cup triumph. If the Red Devils can lift the cup, the club will equal rivals Arsenal for the most FA Cup wins in the tournament’s history.

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FA Cup team news

Chelsea go into the fixture with doubt hanging over manager Antonio Conte’s head. The Blues romped to the English Premier League title in 2016-17. However, this year saw the side slide to a fifth place finish. Questions were raised over Conte’s relationship with players and his tactics, as the squad failed to mount a title fight.

Conte is expected to lose his job following the final. It has been a growing trend in recent years that FA Cup winning managers are axed in subsequent days following their wins. Conte could be the next.

Like Chelsea, Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United faces its last opportunity to win silverware this term. After securing three trophies a year ago, Manchester United have¬†experienced offensive droughts at times this season. The team’s player recruitment has been called into question, especially after the midseason addition of former Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez.

Mourinho is a master of winning knockout cup football matches. His tactics are shaded toward the defensive side, but in cup competition it tends to work out. The team will prevent goals first and attack second.

Heading into the final, Manchester United received a major boost as leading scorer Romelu Lukaku has been declared fit and healthy. The striker has scored 27 goals in 50 matches. It is the most he has ever scored in a single season, but he has also played more matches this term than anytime before in his career.¬†Lukaku hasn’t played since late April when suffered an ankle injury. Having him in the lineup will give Manchester United far more attacking might than if he had been left at home.

Chelsea have received good news on the injury front as well. Star goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is expected to start the final after overcoming his injury worries. Courtois is believed to be on his way to Real Madrid this summer and the FA Cup final may be his last hurrah with the Blues.

Sportsbooks’ favorite

Manchester United go into the FA Cup final as the Sportsbooks’ favorite. The Red Devils are +175 to lift the trophy. Meanwhile, Chelsea isn’t too far behind its rivals at odds of +190. A draw between the two clubs in regular time is +220.

If the team clubs go to extra-time or to penalties, Manchester United has has the bookies’ edge. The club is -120 to win the cup regardless of how it happens (regular time, extra-time or penalties). On the other hand, Chelsea is +100 to win the cup regardless of how it happens.

Prediction

The Red Devils’ ability to rise to the occasion in important matches has not been consistent this term. However, Mourinho will have his side ready for its last chance at silverware. Conte is headed out at Chelsea and with the players poor final day of the regular season showing at Newcastle (3-0 loss), the Blues look done and ready for the offseason.

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