The two most successful English teams of the past decade meet in this FA Cup showdown to finish out this year’s quarterfinal round. Manchester City, Arsenal, and Spurs have already punched their tickets to the semifinal; will the Blues join them for the first time since 2012-13?
Incidentally, in the quarterfinal round that season, Chelsea also faced Manchester United, earning a 2-2 comeback draw at Old Trafford then winning the replay at the Bridge thanks to a solitary Demba Ba goal. Of course it was an acrobatic one; Ba only scored awkwardly acrobatic goals (except against Liverpool; he left the acrobatics to someone else in that case).
Under new rules, this goal would’ve never happened. The FA have scrapped replays for the quarterfinal round as well now, which means that a winner must be found today. If it’s all even after 90 minutes, we’ll be heading to extra-time (with an extra substitution allowed, even!), and then a penalty kick shootout if needed. (No video referee yet; that’s starting next season.)
There’s of course all the Mourinho vs. Chelsea sideshow as well, but we’re going to sidestep that for a moment. Like Conte says, it’s time to do our talking on the pitch.
Date / Time: Monday, March 6, 19:45 GMT; 3:45pm EDT; 1:15am IST (next day)
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Michael Oliver — Mr. Oliver’s back for the fourth time this season. The last time we saw him was in the FA Cup win over Brentford. He also officiated our 2-1 win over Spurs and our infamous 3-0 loss to Arsenal at the Emirates.
Forecast: Rather warm day and possibly even sunny; followed by a mild night.
On TV: BBC One (UK); Fox Sports 1, Fox Deportes (USA); Sony Six (India); elsewhere
Streaming online: BBC iPlayer (UK); Fox Soccer 2Go (USA)
Chelsea team news: All of Conte’s men are ready and willing and available. Whether he chooses to rotate the squad as he’s done in the previous rounds is the big question. Our guess is that he will not, and instead will field the strongest first-choice lineup possible (so Matić instead of Fàbregas).
A win for Chelsea would be our 13th successive home win in all competitions, which would set a new club record.
Manchester United team news: There’s a bit of a crisis going on with United forwards with Zlatan Ibrahimovic suspended, Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney both injured, and Marcus Rashford ill. None of the four have traveled with the team, so unless one of them apparates in the center circle at kick-off, Mourinho will have to use either Marouane Fellaini as a battering ram, Henrikh Mkhataryan as a magic box, or Juan Mata as a false nine.
While Chelsea have had a week to prepare, United played in Rostov less than four days ago. Mourinho’s played down that potential excuse, but his lineup choices are undoubtedly more complicated than Conte’s, and that’s before he was rendered striker-less.
Still, United are United (they haven’t lost a meaningful game since their last trip to Stamford Bridge five months ago) and Mourinho is Mourinho and this is a single-elimination Cup match and anything can happen.
View from the enemy: The Busby Babe
Previously: Foooooooooooour nil.