The second FA Cup semi-final sees Chelsea and Manchester United face off at Wembley. Both managers will be desperate to secure their first major trophy at their respective clubs, but they will be fully aware that the Premier League campaign takes priority. With only two matches left to play in the league, these two clubs and Leicester City are battling out for two Champions League places. Only one point separates the three. The reward on Sunday is an FA Cup final place and positive momentum to take into the run-in.
The perception of Frank Lampard’s first campaign will be shaped by what happens over the next couple of weeks. If he manages to secure a top four finish and win the FA Cup, the future will start to look very bright at Stamford Bridge. However, if he loses on Sunday and finishes outside of the top four, there will be questions about his suitability long term. It is a big period for the rookie manager ahead of a busy summer for the Blues. He will realise the importance of this weekend, as he can beat a close rival and show that he is able to manage at the very highest level. They weren’t at their best in the week during a narrow victory over already relegated Norwich City. Chelsea need to be much better on Sunday if they are to reach the final.
Like Lampard, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knows that he needs to win trophies to show he is a long term option for Manchester United. They remain in two competitions and he will want the team to build a winning mentality. Their form in 2020 has been remarkable, with their last defeat coming at the end of January. This should give the players confidence that they can go on and finish the season strongly. They beat Chelsea on two occasions in the Premier League without conceding a goal. They will take confidence from that on Sunday.
The last four FA Cups have been won by the four teams competing in this year’s semi-finals.
Since his competition debut in January 2014, Willian has been involved in 17 FA Cup goals. No Chelsea player has been involved in more during this period.
Manchester United have scored two or more in nine of their last 11 matches across all competitions.
The Brazilian international has been one of the best players for Chelsea since the restart. He will be looking to go out with a bang if he is to leave on a free this summer and a trophy will be a big motivation for him. Willian looks to be one of the few players that Lampard doesn’t like to rotate. It would be a surprise to see him left out on Sunday. With that in mind, he needs to be considered as the team’s big attacking threat. Since the restart, he has four goals and three assists. In the previous round, he played a key role, getting the assist for the winning goal. Against Leicester City, he made nine ball recoveries and his work rate was a major reason why they got through to this stage of the competition. Manchester United could make changes this weekend, with players needing a rest. If they do, Chelsea will be confident and Willian is the player that could once again play a key role in their progression.
Bruno Fernandes has become an ever present for Manchester United since joining the club. Solskjaer trusts him to play every game and he will be desperate to start his first semi-final for the club. He has the vision and drive to cause Chelsea real problems. This season, Manchester United have caused Chelsea a lot of problems on the counter attack, with the pace of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial. The open style used by the Blues does allow United to play to their strengths in transition. As the key creative midfielder, the Portuguese international will crucial to that approach on Sunday. During the week, he was excellent against Crystal Palace, with six shots, two key passes, three dribbles and three tackles. A similar all action performance on Sunday and Manchester United will be confident that they can progress.
N’Golo Kante will be missing for this match, which is a huge blow for Chelsea. Tammy Abraham could come back in to the team, with Olivier Giroud being rested for the Premier League.
Luke Shaw and Brandon Williams are both doubts for Manchester United. They could make some changes to the first team, with Odion Ighalo, Dan James and Juan Mata contenders to start.
This will be an interesting match with both managers desperate to taste early success. It is difficult to predict ahead of time with uncertainty over the line-ups. Manchester United have the momentum and should have the players to cause Chelsea problems on the break. They are the more likely winners.
Chelsea 1-2 Manchester United