Last season, Chelsea and Manchester United met at Wembley in the final of the 2018 FA Cup. Chelsea won, thanks to a penalty that Eden Hazard drew and converted. He’s still here, as are many of the players, but a lot has changed regardless in those intervening nine months.
Both teams are under new management, Chelsea persevering with Sarri, United going the Chelsea route and sacking Mourinho to enjoy a new coach bounce with former player Ole Gunnar Solksjaer. Chelsea are idealistic to a fault and possibly trending down, United are simply letting good players be good players and possibly trending up.
Considerations of form, function, and facility often go out the window in Cup games however. Usually, it comes down simply to which team wants it more. The rest of the last 16 round has featured almost no upsets and no certainly no giant-killings. Can Chelsea stay strong at home at least, and join the seven other qualified teams (City, Wolves, Palace, Watford, Brighton, Millwall, Swansea) in the quarterfinals?
Date / Time: Monday, February 18, 2019, 19:30 GMT; 2:30pm EST; 1am IST (next day)
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Kevin Friend — third Chelsea match for Mr. NotMyFriend this season after the 0-0 draw against Everton and the 2-1 away win over Liverpool B in the League Cup.
Forecast: Light rain
On TV: BBC One (UK); none (USA); Sony ESPN? (India); elsewhere
Streaming online: BBC iPlayer (UK); ESPN+ (USA); ESPN India
Chelsea team news: Ruben Loftus-Cheek may or may not miss this game with the latest recurrence of his back problem, but otherwise Chelsea have basically a full squad available to pick from (minus the ostracized ones like Danny Drinkwater or Gary Cahill).
Sandwiched between the two legs of the Malmö FF matchup in Europe and followed by the League Cup final next weekend, Sarri’s likely to field as strong of a lineup as he possibly can, as Chelsea look for back-to-back wins for the first time this calendar year.
Manchester United team news: Chelsea-killers and scorers of the last three goals United had managed against us, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard are both out. They join long-term injury victims Antonio Valencia and Matteo Darmian.
After winning 10 or 11 games under Solksjaer, United were rudely exposed by a willing PSG at Old Trafford last week. They will surely want to avoid dropping out of this cup as well.
Previously: Last year’s final.