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Chelsea v Manchester United preview: FA Cup final at Wembley


Jose Mourinho insists Manchester United’s season will not be defined by Saturday’s FA Cup final with Chelsea Wembley Stadium.

United finished second in the Premier League, a distant 19 points behind runaway champions Manchester City, but they have the chance to round off their campaign by lifting some silverware against Chelsea at Wembley.

“People can do what they want, you can analyse the way you want to analyse. I can also analyse the way I want to analyse,” said Mourinho.

“Of course it makes a difference, but it’s one thing to make a difference and the other is to consider the season good or bad because of one match.

“I analyse the work I do, the effort I put in, and everything we all did at the club. That includes the most important people at the club; the players.

“I’m not going to analyse them because of one – of course very important – match.

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has reacted to questions about his side’s style of play by suggesting winning 6-0 is not ‘entertaining’

“I know the positive things and the negative things so I am not going to change my analysis of the season because of the result of one match. Not at all.”

Some pundits have expressed fears the showpiece could be a dull, cagey affair, especially given some of United’s less-than-cavalier performances this season.

But Mourinho countered: “I don’t understand these words of entertaining. Do you think 6-0 is entertaining? I don’t think so.

“I think entertaining is emotional until the end, an open result until the end, everybody on their seats until the end, both dug-outs nervous and tense with the unpredictability of the result.

“For me as a football lover, not as a manager, that’s entertaining. I think it will be entertaining.”

Meanwhile, Antonio Conte reiterated his focus is on the immediate future and Saturday’s final, rather than the ongoing speculation over his future as Chelsea head coach.

Antonio Conte refused to speculate on whether he will leave Chelsea this summer, saying he has a contract and remains committed to the club

A fifth-placed finish in the Premier League, missing out on Champions League qualification, came as part of a season of discontent for Conte, who could still finish the campaign with a trophy if the Blues beat United at the home of football.

Speculation has been rife for the entire campaign that owner Roman Abramovich is preparing to make a managerial change this summer. If so, the Wembley date would be Conte’s last as boss.

“I can say for sure this will be my last match this season,” Conte said.

“For me and my players it will be the last game for us. Then, as you know very well, I have a contract and I’m committed to the club.”

Despite the results suggesting otherwise, Conte maintains during this season the Blues were as driven as the year before.

He added: “We worked harder than last season. I’m sure about this. For me, it’s enough for myself.”

Team news

Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois could play in the FA Cup for the first time this season. Willy Caballero has featured in the competition this term, but did not convince when deputising when Courtois missed the Premier League draw with Huddersfield with a back injury.

Full-back Emerson Palmieri (undisclosed) has joined defenders David Luiz (knee) and Ethan Ampadu (ankle) in being ruled out injured.

Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois says he expects Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho to come up with ‘surprising’ tactics for Saturday’s FA Cup final

Meanwhile, United striker Romelu Lukaku needs a late fitness test with the Belgium international facing a race against time to recover from an ankle injury in order to line up against his former club.

Winger Anthony Martial, though, is fit after shaking off a knee injury.

Opta stats

  • This will be United’s 20th FA Cup final – a joint-record with Arsenal, while only the Gunners (13) have won the trophy more than the Red Devils (12)
  • This is Chelsea’s 13th appearance in the showpiece – they lost last year’s final against Arsenal and could become the first team to lose consecutive FA Cup finals since Newcastle in 1998 and 1999
  • This is the third time these sides have met in the FA Cup final, making it the joint-most played final in the history of the competition (Arsenal vs Liverpool, Arsenal vs Newcastle and Aston Villa vs West Brom also three)
  • Of the previous two, United won 4-0 in 1994 as part of their first top-flight and FA Cup double, while Chelsea won 1-0 in 2007 in the first final played at the new Wembley Stadium
  • In all FA Cup meetings, Chelsea are unbeaten in their last four against United (W3 D1), since a 2-0 loss in a quarter-final replay in 1998-99
  • In all competitions, United have won two of their last three meetings with Chelsea (L1), more than they had in their previous 14 against the Blues (W1 D6 L7)
  • This will be the eighth meeting between these sides at Wembley Stadium, the most-played fixture at the ground in all competitions. Both sides have won two games apiece, with three matches going to penalty shootouts (2 wins for Man Utd, 1 for Chelsea)
  • The Red Devils haven’t conceded more than a single goal in any of their last 16 FA Cup matches, keeping eight clean sheets in that time. Dele Alli’s strike for Spurs in the semi-final is the only goal they’ve conceded in the competition this season
  • Meanwhile, the Blues have conceded just twice in the competition this season – against Norwich in the third round and Leicester in the quarter-finals.

Deco tells Sky Sports News’ James Dale that Manchester United knew what they were getting when they hired Jose Mourinho

Charlie’s prediction

I think the bookies are slightly edging towards Manchester United and that is perhaps due to Alexis Sanchez’s record at Wembley; otherwise I don’t really see them as favourites.

United have been average, Chelsea have been unpredictable. We know the managers don’t have any time for each other and I think it will be Antonio Conte’s final game, so his players should be fired up to give him a good send-off.

Jose Mourinho will set his side up to stifle Eden Hazard. While he hasn’t been at his best, the top players have the ability to turn it on when they hit the big stage.

They have to start Olivier Giroud and, with his lethal form, I believe Chelsea have the better firepower on their day than United. If you get Hazard, Willian and Cesc Fabregas linking up then they can create havoc.

I’ve never heard Jose Mourinho say second place is a good season and I think he could end the season empty-handed as well, with Conte having the last laugh before he walks away for a new opportunity.

Charlie predicts: 3-2 and Giroud to score first (180/1 with Sky Bet)


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