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Fa Cup Semi-Final Preview: Manchester United vs Chelsea

Fa Cup Semi Final Manchester United vs Chelsea

FA Cup Semi Final Preview Manchester United vs Chelsea | Wembley Stadium | KO: 18:00 GMT 19/07/2020 | BBC ONE

Manchester United, in pursuit of their 13th FA Cup triumph, travel to Wembley on Sunday evening to face Frank Lampard’s Chelsea, knowing a win would put them into the final to face Arsenal on Saturday 1st August.

United enter the match on the back of an impressive 19 game unbeaten run, that started in the FA Cup against Tranmere Rovers in January, and boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be desperate to keep that run going, with the Norwegian eyeing his first trophy as manager of The Reds.

How do Manchester United look?

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In what was perhaps the biggest surprise of the season so far, Solskjaer named Timothy Fosu Mensah in his starting eleven at left back to face Crystal Palace on Thursday night. The out-of-position right back impressed, but it may be too much of a challenge for him to play two consecutive games, considering he hadn’t represented United in over three years before the trip to Selhurst Park.

However, with the uncertainty of the fitness of both Luke Shaw and Brandon Williams, the boss may be left with no choice but to opt with the Dutchman for Sunday’s crucial clash.

On the condition of the pair, Solskjaer said “I don’t think Luke is going to make it, no, he’ll be out. Brandon hopefully will be able to train today and be available”, meaning it will go down to the wire to see who starts in the left full back position for United.

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Other than the left backs, the only absentees for the trip to Wembley are again Phil Jones and Axel Tuanzebe, who have missed every game since the restart and are highly unlikely to feature before next season.

In terms of rotation, Solskjaer was asked whether he would be resting a few players, whether Sergio Romero would continue to be the club’s ‘cup goalkeeper’ and if Jesse Lingard would be likely to feature. In reply, Ole said “Yeah, the team is not selected yet and that goes both for Jesse and Sergio. They’ve got a good chance of being involved, so we’ll make a decision on that later on.”

Many pundits, as well as opposition fans, managers, and players have accused Manchester United of profiting from VAR more than most this season, and Frank Lampard was the latest to suggest that the new technology has been favourable for The Reds.

In reply to this accusation, Solskjaer defended the club, saying “if you’re offside, you’re offside. That’s clear”.

He then continued to describe a number of situations where the referee and VAR have given incorrect decisions against Manchester United, before concluding that it is “actually me that should be complaining that we get decisions against us on the pitch by the on-field referee”.

Opposition: Chelsea

To reach the FA Cup semi-final, Chelsea have beaten Nottingham Forest, Hull City, Liverpool and Leicester City, with Frank Lampard’s men conceding just one goal in this time.

Somewhat ironically, The Blue’s backline has been their biggest weakness so far this campaign. In the Premier League, they have conceded 49 goals, the worst record for clubs in the top ten.

Goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga has not won many fans round with his performances following his record-breaking move from Athletic Bilbao in 2018.

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Most famous for his refusal to be substituted off against Manchester City in last season’s League Cup final, the Spaniard will be desperate to exorcise any Wembley ghosts that he may still have of the penalty shootout defeat.

However, this doesn’t look likely. This season, Kepa has an unimpressive save percentage of just 56.5%, the worst in the Premier League in regards to first choice goalkeepers. Marcus Rashford, Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes must take note of this, and shoot-on-sight in an attempt to take advantage of the clear weakness that this Chelsea side have.

Defensive midfielder N’Golo Kante is expected to miss the clash with injury, and young prospect Billy Gilmour has officially been ruled out for the rest of the season.

Key Stats

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has already beaten Frank Lampard’s Chelsea three times this season, and could become only the second manager to beat The Blues four times in one single campaign (the other being Sir Alex Ferguson).

Should United win on Sunday, they will be the first ever side to reach 21 FA Cup finals.

Prediction:

 Manchester United 2-1. Goals from Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.


Match Preview Writer

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