A second consecutive Monday night clash for Chelsea sees them welcome back Jose Mourinho to Stamford Bridge. The former Blues boss will be looking to improve on his last visit here, which ended in a demoralising 4-0 defeat. There’s considerably more on the line this time around, as the Red Devils come here aiming to book a place in the semi-finals of the FA Cup. This tie pits the Premier League leaders against the League Cup winners, but which will move closer to the FA Cup final?
Antonio Conte will be aiming to complete a league and cup double, reminiscent of Carlo Ancelotti’s first season in charge. After their win at West Ham last week, the Blues seem to be uncatchable at the summit of the Premier League. United certainly can’t get near them, something even the belligerent Mourinho has admitted. He has tried some mind games, suggesting that the Blues have already won the league, allowing them to completely focus on this huge game. For United, this is sandwiched in between two Europa League games against Russian side Rostov.
Team News: Conte to end cup rotation while United plug striking gap
Antonio Conte has made quite a few changes to his team in the FA Cup so far, but the line-ups he’s named have become gradually stronger as the rounds went on. As we predicted ahead of the Wolves tie, this is likely to be the time when the first team turns up in the cup. This a huge tie between two big contenders for the competition, and Conte has no reason to rest players here. Rotating would cancel out their big advantage over Mourinho’s side, as the Blues have a fully fit squad once again. It’s likely we’ll see a similar team to the one which hammered United last time the sides met.
Mourinho has a couple of things to juggle in this game. While he’d prefer to win another FA Cup than the Europa League, the Champions League place on offer in the later makes it United’s priority. With two tricky Europa League games either side of this match, expect the Red Devils to make a few changes for this tie. They have one major enforced change to worry about, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic starting a three game domestic ban. He’s been key to their season so far, so the Swede will be a massive miss for the visitors.
Manchester United Form
Manchester United come into this game on the back of a 1-1 draw against Bournemouth in their last domestic outing. That result was a big blow to their Champions League hopes, which suits Chelsea even more. United slipped three points off Liverpool, and they could be as many as six points off fourth by the time this one kicks off. That heightens the importance of the Europa League to them, devaluing this competition. Their main priority has to be their two methods of returning to the Champions League, and their form of late hasn’t been good enough to secure that.
United’s recent big wins, over Saint Etienne in the Europa League and Southampton in the EFL Cup final, came via brilliance from Ibrahimovic. The Swede scored six in his last five matches. Without him, you have to ask how Mourinho’s side will fare. He’s scored 38% of their league goals this term, while he hit the winner at Blackburn in the last round. While they’ve been getting results of late, this is going to be a very different side.
Chelsea v Manchester United Head to Head
That win over United in October is the obvious stand out in their recent encounters. Aside from that, the other clashes between these sides have been fairly tight. Neither of the meetings between these two last term came with Mourinho in charge, the 0-0 at Old Trafford was around a week after his dismissal.
- Chelsea 4-0 Man United, Oct 2016
- Chelsea 1-1 Man United, Feb 2016
- Man United 0-0 Chelsea, Dec 2015
- Chelsea 1-0 Man United, Apr 2015
- Man United 1-1 Chelsea, Nov 2014
- Over 1.5 Chelsea goals – 11/10 with Betfair
- Diego Costa to score any time – 11/10 with Sky Bet
BetVictor are pricing the Blues as the 5/6 favourites for this game, no doubt in part to United’s other commitments. The lack of Zlatan Ibrahimovic should make a major difference, that’s seen United drift out to 7/2 with Coral to win at the Bridge. This game would go to extra time if drawn, after the FA scrapped quarter final replays, and Bet365 make it 13/5 for this clash to be level after 90 minutes. Neither side would want the extra hassle of that, but they’ll both be desperate to book a place in the last four. The bookies seem to believe that Conte’s men are going to progress, but we’re looking elsewhere for value on this clash.
Following Chelsea’s hammering of United here last time out, the Blues have been in excellent scoring form at home. They hit eight in two home FA Cup ties, while they’ve scored two or more in their last seven outings at Stamford Bridge. Since that win over the Red Devils in October, they’ve scored three or more in 70% of matches at this ground. We can see the travel weary United conceding another couple here, so we’re backing over 1.5 goals for the hosts, which is very well priced at 11/10 with Betfair.
We’re also backing Diego Costa to score one of those goals, following his strike at the London Stadium. You have to wonder just how much louder the outcry would have been if was Costa and not Ibrahimovic elbowing for revenge last weekend. However, the Spaniard is a changed man, and he’s in lethal scoring form. We can see him putting United to the sword, and getting one over Mourinho. He’s priced at 11/10 with Sky Bet to score in the match.