Chelsea host Manchester United in the pick of the FA Cup quarterfinal ties tonight at Stamford Bridge. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is suspended and that means all eyes are likely to be on José Mourinho’s tactical tweaks as he returns to his former club.
Chelsea have no injury concerns ahead of the clash. United will be without the aforementioned Ibrahimovic as well as injured striking trio Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford. Outstanding creative midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan is 50/50 but might be risked because of United’s shortage of options at the sharp end of the pitch.
Manchester United’s 4-0 humbling at Stamford Bridge earlier this season proved to be a catalyst for their upturn in form, but the fact remains that they are without a win against Chelsea in 11 matches in all competitions. United’s lack of fit strikers, coupled with Zlatan’s suspension, might force José into a route 1 approach towards Marouane Fellaini. It remains to be seen if that’s the route to Wembley and the FA Cup semifinals.
No players missing
Likely starting XI (343): Courtois; Azpilicueta, Luiz, Cahill; Moses, Kanté, Matic, Alonso; Willian, Costa, Hazard
Injured: Rooney, Martial, Rashford
Late fitness test: Mkhitaryan, Schweinsteiger
Likely starting XI (4231): De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Smalling, Rojo; Pogba, Herrera; Mata, Mkhitaryan, Lingard; Fellaini
Relations between Juan Mata and José Mourinho haven’t always been peachy and this dates back to when the pair were together at Chelsea. However, the diminutive playmaker is now a key cog in the United machine and his ability to combine with intelligent Armenian schemer Henrikh Mkhitaryan will be especially important considering United’s lack of available attackers. The creative duo can produce presentable chances which Mourinho’s team simply must take.
Chelsea’s new formation has taken them to the top of the Premier League and N’Golo Kanté has excelled in a functional midfield unit. The Frenchman’s displays have drawn universal praise and most of it relates to how much work the Frenchman gets through in 90 minutes. With Manchester United likely to pack the midfield at Stamford Bridge, Kanté’s ability to do the work of two men will be invaluable.
Key Match Stats
Chelsea are undefeated in their last 11 matches against Manchester United in all competitions.
Chelsea have scored at least twice in 8 of their last 9 matches in the FA Cup.
Manchester United have only been defeated in 1 of their last 28 matches in all competitions.
Manchester United are the defending champions of the FA Cup.
Manchester United have won 8 of the pair’s 11 meetings in the FA Cup.
Verdict & Picks
Chelsea vs Manchester United looks like a mismatch when form and freshness are the main factors to be considered, but it should be a tight contest. Back Chelsea to win 1-0 at 5.05 or 2-1 at 8.06 on ClickaBet.