Chelsea vs Manchester United: Five things to look forward to in the FA Cup final

Chelsea and Manchester United play their final match of the season in a battle to pick up their only piece of silverware.


Reuters/Carl Recine

This Saturday at Wembley, the season comes to a close for Manchester United and Chelsea.

Neither side managed to muster a fight against Manchester City for the title – a disappointment given Chelsea’s status as the reigning champions and Manchester United’s £147 million spend last summer. Both sides exited the Champions League at the Round of 16 stage.

But they can put something of a positive spin on their campaigns by adding silverware on their final match of the season. Chelsea knocked Manchester United out of the competition last season en route to the final but failed to win it last year in a 2-1 defeat to Arsenal in the final.

Otherwise, Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho have contested four league games in charge of the clubs over the last two seasons. They have two wins apiece, with the home side coming out on top on each occasion. It will be interesting to see how that applies to neutral territory.

Romelu Lukaku faces a late fitness test to start up top for Manchester United, while Marouane Fellaini and Anthony Martial are doubtful, meaning they both may have played their last game for the club. Chelsea will be missing David Luiz, Emerson and Ethan Ampadu but have no other concerns.

Here are five things to look forward to:

  1. 1 Jose Mourinho in a final


    Reuters/Jason Cairnduff

    The Portuguese has an exceptional record in finals - winning 12 of 14 major finals, including beating Barcelona with Real Madrid, beating Monaco to win the Champions League with Porto and doing the same with Inter Milan, defeating Louis Van Gaal's Bayern Munich.

    He's never lost a final while in charge of an English club, winning four League Cups, last season's Europa League and one FA Cup. He can add a second here.

    In fact, he's only lost two finals: one in charge of Porto, the Taça de Portugal, in 2004 to Benfica, the other in his penultimate game at the Bernabeu in charge of Real Madrid, losing to Diego Simeone's Atletico Madrid in 2013. 

    The loss that night appeared to be predicated upon a squad who had grown tired of his toxic methodology. 

    There have been hints at discontent at Manchester United but they have largely stuck together, beating each of the Premier League's big six in recent months. 

    Similar cracks appearing here seems unlikely: it would not bode well for next season if they do.

  2. 2 Olivier Giroud gunning for his fourth FA Cup


    REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

    After winning three FA Cups in four years with Arsenal, Giroud can make it a personal four out of five after making the switch across London in January transfer window.

    He was imperative in ending Arsenal's nine-year trophy drought as Arsenal battled back to defeat Hull, setting up Aaron Ramsey to score the extra-time winner with a clever back-heel. He also assisted the Welshman, again for the winner, against Chelsea in last year's final.

    Giroud made an impact from the bench in last year's final and added gloss in 2015 by scoring against Aston Villa to make it 4-0. 

    Whether he starts for Chelsea or not, he has a lot to offer and could make a big impact.

  3. 3 Who can shake off their recent form?


    Reuters/Lee Smith

    Neither side comes into this final looking entirely convincing. 

    Chelsea were dire, looking uninterested, in a 3-0 defeat to Newcastle in their final Premier League game. Just before that, they'd let their faint hopes for Champions League football slip after being held at home by relegation-battling Huddersfield. 

    This put the brakes on any momentum that Chelsea had, making a late surge for the top four by winning five games in a row, including a 1-0 win over Liverpool. Can they get going again?

    Manchester United on the other hand, with 2nd comfortably wrapped up, have had a very flat end to the season. Defeated 1-0 by West Brom and Brighton in recent weeks, they drew 0-0 at West Ham and only registered a drab 1-0 win over Watford in their last league game. 

    They do, however, have history for turning up in the biggest games recently, regardless of their form. Will they do it this time?

  4. 4 Can Conte leave Chelsea by hoisting silverware?


    REUTERS/Scott Heppell

    Some bookies have the Italian at odds as short of 1/4 to leave Chelsea before next season. 

    The writing has been on the wall for some time, though, as the Italian has sulked through the latter half of the season. 

    Napoli's Maurizio Sarri is touted to replace him, but before that happens Conte can leave on a high. After winning the title on first ask last season, the team has struggled to maintain similar form this term.

    Should he win a trophy this season, that will be something that Manchester United, Tottenham, and - potentially - Liverpool have failed to do this campaign. 

    It's been a season to forget for Chelsea but they could compensate for their shortcomings here.

  5. 5 Will Lukaku end his long wait for glory?


    REUTERS/David Klein

    Since bursting on the scene as a sixteen-year-old, scoring 15 goals in 25 appearances to help Anderlecht win the Belgian title, it's been a long wait for Romelu Lukaku to add more silverware.

    He was present when Chelsea won the Champions League in 2012 but refused to even touch the trophy after he didn't play a part.

    After an excellent goal-scoring record with West Bromwich Albion and Everton, scoring 68 goals in five seasons, he's finally at a club poised to win silverware. 

    Lukaku faces a late test to feature but he'll be desperate to feature on such an occasion.

    What are we missing? Let us know by commenting below.

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