Who: Manchester United vs Chelsea
When: Sunday, July 19th @ 1:00pm ET
Line: Man U +145 | Draw +235 | Chelsea +190
Manchester United are currently going through a wondrous run of form, having won 6 out of their 8 games in all competitions since the season restart. With each & every player available, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side has maintained an impressive 19-game unbeaten streak, last losing a game way back in January!
But they are in threat of having the streak be broken in the FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea. The Red Devils have a terrific run of form in the competition this season, only conceding 1 goal & scoring 12 in 5 games. Even without key first-teamers, they’ve looked great & are raring to add a trophy to their cabinet.
Chelsea, of course, aren’t any pushovers, with Frank Lampard having similar ambitions of lifting the trophy. With both teams now neck-and-neck in the Premier League & also fighting for the FA Cup, this semi-final should be a thrilling encounter to cap off the season of a number of memorable bouts between the two sides.
Manchester United Predicted XI:
Romero, Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire, Williams, Matic, Pogba, Fernandes, James, Martial, Rashford.
With two crucial PL games next week, expect Solskjaer to make changes for this. Luke Shaw & Brandon Williams should recover for this, but I see Williams starting to protect Shaw for the league games. Phil Jones & Axel Tuanzebe are still the only ones ruled out indefinitely.
Chelsea Predicted XI:
Kepa, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger, Alonso, Jorginho, Kovacic, Barkley, Willian, Pulisic, Giroud.
Like Ole, Lampard will also rotate his squad a bit with big PL games lined up for next week. N’Golo Kante could return from injury, but probably won’t be risked. Billy Gilmour remains the Blues’ only absentee having recently suffered a nasty injury.
Manchester United vs Chelsea preview
Incidentally, this will be the 4TH TIME these two sides meet each other this season, having played each other in the PL as well as the Carabao Cup. United have won all 3 remaining games but need to be wary as the Blues could easily be fourth time lucky this time around.
OGS’ side hasn’t really been at their very best in recent games, showing signs of sloppiness against Crystal Palace recently. A few players look tired due to the exhausting schedule, but Ole can’t really risk benching all his main players as he wants to add the FA Cup crown to United’s cabinet this season.
But despite moments of scrappiness, the Red Devils have become a terrorizing attacking force since the restart. Anthony Martial & Marcus Rashford have developed this competitiveness, with both trying to outscore each other. With their brilliance chemistry & blistering pace, they could torment Chelsea’s error-prone defenders when bombing forward.
Bruno Fernandes, even in his most ‘ineffective’ game, looks like United’s best bet to set up chances. He loves the big occasions, so the Portuguese midfielder will aim to lead the charge to inspire his side going forward.
Paul Pogba provided 2 assists in his last appearance against Chelsea in the Red Devils opening day thrashing over them. While he’s looked vulnerable defensively, with the commanding Nemanja Matic providing extra cover by his side, the Frenchman will be ready to dazzle his opponents with tricks & slick passes.
While United’s front-line is operating at a high level right now, Chelsea’s attacking threat has received a boost thanks to Christian Pulisic’s brilliant work after the break. The American scored a stunning goal in their win over Man City & possesses the kryptonite to United’s defence – speed & directness to run right at them. As long as he can find space to run at, Pulisic should conjure up something special and inspire the Blues’ going forward again.
Moreover, Willian looks an inspired figure with his contract running down. His set-pieces & creativity will surely be a formidable threat, as will Olivier Giroud’s finishing as well as Ross Barkley’s x-factor in & around the penalty area. It’s safe to say, United will need to vastly improve their defensive sturdiness to hold back the Blues’ blazing attack on Sunday.
They’ve looked a bit nervy in recent weeks, making silly mistakes that hand opponents easy chances. Solskjaer needs to fix their style of playing the ball out from defence & motivate his defenders to rediscover their stubborn defensive fortitude. Aaron Wan-Bissaka, in particular, seems to have forgotten his colossal defensive ability since the restart and needs to become the tackling machine to keep Pulisic quiet.
With both teams having similar strengths & weakness currently, this should be an interesting battle. United have had Chelsea’s number in recent meetings, but the Blues will be out for revenge. It’ll probably come down to who’s hungrier to win and whichever team fully concentrates on this game rather than thinking about their upcoming PL games should prevail to the FA Cup final.
This should be an exciting, action-packed game with both teams knowing each other very well. But I think this is the one where United’s undefeated streak is broken, with Chelsea getting the win – possibly winning it 2-1 at extra-time or late into normal time.