Manchester United and Chelsea both have a chance to end their not-too-impressive seasons with silverware on Saturday as they battle for the FA Cup title at the Wembley Stadium.
The final game of the domestic season offers a last chance for both clubs to get something tangible to show for the 2017/18 season. While United were able to finish second in the league behind city rivals Manchester City, who won the title, Chelsea failed to qualify for next season’s Champions League after they finished fifth in the league.
Both sides repeat the finals of 1994 and 2007 on Saturday. The Red Devils won the 1994 edition 4-0 but the Blues, courtesy of a Didier Drogba extra time goal, took the title in 2007.
En route to the final, Jose Mourinho’s United ousted Derby County in the third round before beating Yeovil Town 4-0 in the fourth round. They defeated Huddersfield Town 2-0 in the fifth round and Brighton Hove and Albion 2-0 in the quarter-final. A 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur in the semi-final booked them a place in Saturday’s final.
For Chelsea, they defeated Norwich City 5-3 on penalties – after the replay had ended 1-1. In the fourth round, they beat Newcastle United 3-0 while they brushed aside Hull City 4-0 in the fifth round. A tough quarter-final tie against Leicester City ended 2-1 in favour of the Blues after extra time. They beat Southampton 2-0 in the semi-final to reach the final.
For United, a victory in the grudge tie would draw them level with Arsenal as the most successful team in the competition’s history. Contests between the two finalists have been tight in recent years with only three or more goals scored on three occasions in the past 13 meetings.
Both managers have had to endure a torrid season as neither of them has looked very happy this season. Antonio Conte is the worst hit as he has frequently been in the dilemma of not knowing his fate at the end of the season. But Mourinho would believe that another trophy will provide some evidence of progress in the United team that has been criticised a lot of times for not measuring up to expectation this season.
The battle for the title will also involve the two goalkeepers Thibaut Courtois and David De Gea, who have both been ranked as two of the best in the world.
However, while United rely on a strong defence and attack, Chelsea have their strength in their midfield, which include their Nigerian wing back Victor Moses as well as left wing back Marcos Alonso, whose marauding runs have proven problematic for the opponent’s defence.
For Moses, who is seeking his first FA Cup winner’s medal, the match is his second consecutive final with Chelsea – having being red-carded in the 2017 final 2-1 loss to Arsenal. The 27-year-old during the week said he would love to make amends for his 2017 mistakes on Saturday.
“It was the worst feeling ever that I’ve experienced in my career. I wanted to be on the pitch to help my teammates. It has played on my mind a little bit, but there’s nothing I can do about it. I can’t rewind it back,” Moses was quoted as saying by Evening Standard during the week.
“But that’s gone now, we have another final against Manchester United and we want to win it. Every single one of us wants to stay disciplined and focused, do what the manager asks of us on the pitch and make sure that we come out on top. We just want to get it right this time. It won’t be easy, but we just want to finish the season strongly.”
Mourinho believes his record would be irrelevant going into the match.
The former Blues manager has won 12 cup competitions during his club career. In his first season in charge at Old Trafford, Mourinho guided United to two finals – the Europa League and League Cup – winning both.
But his rival has never won any cup final. He has lost in three cup finals in his career – the most recent of which was against Arsenal in 2017.
“I think the winning mentality doesn’t have to do with records or history in finals,” he was quoted as saying by BBC Sport.
“I honestly think what we did in the past has nothing to do with tomorrow and the records don’t matter. What matters is 11 against 11 and everybody trying to give their best.”
Conte said, “We deserve to have this chance, to win an important trophy. We have to fight against a really good team and we want to fight, want to try to win the game, to lift the trophy.
“For sure, I think we must be focused on the game. For us this game is very important because we have in a difficult season (the chance) to finish the season with a trophy.”
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