Chelsea are set to host Manchester United at the Stamford Bridge on Monday in the quarter-final of the FA Cup. United might be the defending FA Cup winners, but injuries and suspension to their key players mean they will need something extraordinary to stop the Chelsea juggernaut.
Chelsea Team News
Antonio Conte has a fully fit squad at his disposal at the moment. The lack of European football, as Jose Mourinho had pointed out in the build-up to the game, has allowed the squad to rest and recuperate properly this season and has allowed Conte to be consistent with his lineups.
The Italian manager is likely to make just two changes to the starting XI he fielded against West Ham United last week. Asmir Begovic has been Conte’s preferred choice in knockout tournaments this season, and the former Stoke City goalkeeper will once again step in for Thibaut Courtois in the goal.
Conte is also likely to replace Pedro with Willian in the front-three against Manchester United. The Brazilian had put in an admirable performance during their 0-2 win over Wolves in the last round, and he is likely to get the nod once again. Kurt Zouma has also received his fair share of chances in the FA Cup so far this season. However, Conte might prefer to stick with his first choice back-three of Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz, and Gary Cahill for this game.
Nemanja Matic has not started for Chelsea in their last three games with Conte giving a chance to Cesc Fabregas to form a partnership with N’Golo Kante. However, Matic is likely to return to the side against United as Chelsea look for more defensive strength in the midfield.
Expected Chelsea starting XI (3-4-3): Begovic (GK); Azpilicueta, Luiz, Cahill; Moses, Matic, Kante, Alonso; Willian, Costa, Hazard
Manchester United Team News
Unlike Chelsea, Manchester United have been crippled by injuries and suspension ahead of this big clash. Their top-scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic will start serving the three-game ban he had earned after elbowing Bournemouth’s Tyrone Mings. Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford are also missing from the squad due to fitness concerns, while Wayne Rooney will miss out due to a leg injury after colliding with Phil Jones in training.
Along with these missing players, Mourinho’s squad will also need to recover in time from their long trip to Russia for their Europa League clash against Rostov. The former Chelsea manager has also ruled out the possibility of using the U-23 squad players for this clash with a few gaping holes left to fill in the attack.
With the lack of strikers available for this game, Mourinho could look to use Marouane Fellaini up front with Henrikh Mkhitaryan playing off him. Jesse Lingard is set to return to the side on the left wing with Juan Mata playing as an inverted winger on the right. The absence of a lot of big names means Paul Pogba will be expected to step-up and provide United the drive and leadership it requires in the midfield.
Expected Manchester United starting XI (4-2-3-1): De Gea (GK); Valencia, Bailly, Smalling, Rojo; Pogba, Herrera; Mata, Mkhitaryan, Lingard; Fellaini
Chelsea 2-1 Manchester United
Chelsea have not lost to Manchester United in their last 11 league and cup encounters, and that run is unlikely to be broken tonight at Stamford Bridge. Antonio Conte’s men dominated the Red Devils the last time they visited this stadium in October last year. It is unlikely to be a 4-0 win this time around for the Blues, though. Mourinho is unlikely to repeat the same mistake twice, and he will try and make his team harder to break down. However, Chelsea’s overall quality as a unit is likely to see them through.
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