FA Cup final preview: Chelsea v United
Manchester United face Chelsea in the 2018 Emirates FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium. Here's everything you need to know ahead of the big game...
Setting the scene… At the end of a long season that started nine months ago with the UEFA Super Cup against Real Madrid, it all comes down to this! United will be looking to end 2017/18 on a high in our 56th competitive game of the campaign, when taking on Premier League rivals Chelsea in the 137th Emirates FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium. It’s a repeat of the first final held at the new Wembley in 2007, when Didier Drogba scored an extra-time winner as the Blues won 1-0 under Jose Mourinho, who is now looking to lift the famous trophy for the first time as United manager and claim his fourth piece of silverware to round off his second season at the helm on a winning note.
How can I follow it? Saturday’s final is a teatime encounter, with kick-off at 17:15 BST, and it will be broadcast live on both BBC One and BT Sport 2 in the UK. Subscribers to MUTV (available on Sky and Virgin Media, via the club’s MUTV app or online at MUTV.com) will be able to follow all the build-up on the Match Day show from 15:00 BST and listen to full radio commentary of the game, before watching it in full on Sunday at 18:00 BST. You can also keep up with all the action as it happens via ManUtd.com’s live match blog and by following the club’s official Twitter account @ManUtd.
Any team news for me? The boss confirmed on Friday that Anthony Martial is fit but Romelu Lukaku will have until
“the last moment” to prove his fitness. Top scorer Lukaku has missed the last three games after travelling to his native Belgium for treatment on the ankle injury sustained in last month’s win over Arsenal and faces a race to be ready to take on his former club on Saturday, while Martial was injured in training before last weekend's victory over Watford.
How about Chelsea? Antonio Conte is only expected to be without Brazilian-born Italian left-back Emerson Palmieri, who is injured, but the Blues boss is keeping his cards close to his chest, telling reporters in his pre-match press conference on Friday that he is reluctant to reveal who is in his starting line-up.
How have they been doing? After being crowned champions in 2016/17 in Antonio Conte’s debut season in charge, the Blues endured a disappointing Premier League title defence, finishing fifth and missing out on Champions League football next term. Following a run of five straight wins, Chelsea failed to win either of their last two league games, labouring to a 1-1 draw at home to Huddersfield Town before a comprehensive 3-0 defeat at Newcastle United last Sunday. Having reached their 13th final, the Blues are looking to win the competition for an eighth time and make up for their 2-1 defeat to Arsenal in last season’s showpiece, knowing a win would guarantee them a place in the group stage of the Europa League next term.
How have both sides reached this stage? United have advanced to the final by scoring 12 goals and conceding just once. The Reds saw off Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 in last month’s semi-final and have beaten Derby County 2-0, Yeovil Town 4-0, Huddersfield 2-0 and Brighton 2-0 in previous rounds. Meanwhile, Chelsea have had a less smooth passage to the showpiece. The Blues needed penalties in a replay to see off Championship side Norwich City in round three, but thrashed Newcastle 3-0 and Hull City 4-0 at home to make the quarter-finals, where they beat Leicester City 2-1 after extra-time, before a 2-0 win over Southampton in the semi-finals.
How we reached the FA Cup finalVideo
What happened in this season’s other meetings? Both sides have a victory apiece from the two league encounters this term. Chelsea secured a 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge in November thanks to Alvaro Morata’s second-half header, before the Reds came from behind to beat the Blues 2-1 at Old Trafford in February, courtesy of Lukaku’s close-range finish and a Jesse Lingard header.
Remembering Ray: There will be a series of special tributes on Saturday in memory of the late Ray Wilkins, who played for both clubs and won the FA Cup with United in 1983. The family of the former England captain, who passed away on 4 April at the age of 61, will be guests at Wembley, while there will be four pages dedicated to Ray in the match programme. His name will also appear on pitchside hoardings when the teams walk out, there will be banners dedicated to Wilkins and a video tribute will be shown before kick-off. Ray's widow Jackie will also present the trophy to the winners.
Anything else I should know? Royal Air Force personnel will play a central role in pre-match proceedings to celebrate the service’s 100th anniversary. Before the game, the teams will be introduced to a presentation party of FA Chairman Greg Clarke, John Nixon, Chairman of the Challenge Cup Committee, and Sir Tim Clarke, President of the competition’s sponsors Emirates. Ahead of kick-off, the national anthem will be sung by British soprano Emily Haig. Meanwhile, the names of 137 goalscorers from this season’s FA Cup campaign – including Alexis Sanchez and Chelsea’s Willian – will feature on the ball for Saturday’s game, as part of the FA’s ‘Ball for All’ initiative to celebrate players from different divisions across the country that took part this term.
What’s our FA Cup record like? United will compete in a record-equalling 20th final and will be hoping to match Arsenal’s record of 13 FA Cup triumphs by lifting the trophy for the second time in three years. The Reds came from behind to beat Crystal Palace 2-1, thanks to Lingard’s stunning extra-time winner, in the 2016 final under Louis van Gaal.
What’s our overall record against Chelsea? Historically, the Reds have a positive record against the Blues, winning 74 of the sides’ 179 meetings in all competitions, stretching back to 1905. United also have the edge in the 14 previous FA Cup clashes between the teams, winning eight ties to Chelsea’s four with two draws leading to replays. The Reds were beaten in the aforementioned 2007 final against the Blues, but thumped the Londoners 4-0 in the only other meeting between the sides in the final in 1994, when United completed a league and cup double for the first time.
How have we done at Wembley? Saturday’s showpiece will be United’s 52nd appearance at the national stadium. The Reds have won on 28 of the previous 51 visits, drawing five and losing 18. Those games have included 18 FA Cup finals, seven League Cup finals and two European Cup finals.
Six great goals at Wembley StadiumVideo
Did you know? United will come up against Chelsea at Wembley for an eighth time, which means we will have faced the Blues at the national stadium on more occasions than any other team. It will be the Reds’ first encounter with the west Londoners at the venue since a 3-1 win in the 2010 Community Shield. United will be looking to make amends for our last FA Cup meeting with Chelsea, who won 1-0 in last season’s quarter-final at Stamford Bridge through N’Golo Kante’s low strike, after Reds midfielder Ander Herrera was sent off for a second bookable offence in the first half.
Who’s the referee? Michael Oliver will take charge of Saturday’s event, which will be the 33-year-old’s fifth major final at Wembley. The Northumberland whistler handled 30 Premier League games in 2017/18, more than any other referee, including the Reds’ 2-0 win over Leicester in August and 2-1 defeat at home to Manchester City in December. Oliver will be assisted by Lee Betts and Ian Hussin, while Lee Mason is the fourth official and Constantine Hatzidakis is the reserve assistant. For the first time in an FA Cup final, the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) will be in operation, with Neil Swarbrick fulfilling the role, along with assistant Mick McDonough.