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Manchester United vs. Chelsea, FA Cup semifinal: Preview, team news, how to watch

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One step from the final

Manchester United v Chelsea - FA Cup: Semi Final Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Chelsea may be a point ahead of Manchester United in the Premier League table, but we’re 0-for-3 in head-to-head matchups.

Chelsea began the season with a 4-0 defeat at Old Trafford, halving that scoreline in the reverse matchup at Stamford Bridge, not long before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. In between, the Blues also managed to lose to Manchester United in the League Cup, ending that journey at just the second hurdle. At least we managed a goal in that one, with eight going in at the other end in the three games combined.

We’re certainly due a win against Solksjær’s in-form bunch, though of course wins aren’t just handed out by statistical regression. Instead, Chelsea will have to do it the old-fashioned way, on the pitch.

This is a rematch of the 2018 FA Cup final and either team’s best chance of winning a trophy this season (though United are also one of the favorites in the Europa League as well).

Date / Time: Sunday, July 19, 2020, 18.00 BST; 1pm EDT; 10:30pm IST
Venue: Wembley, London, England
Referee: Mike Dean (on pitch); Michael Oliver (VAR)
Forecast: Rainy, breezy, cool — a perfect English summer’s day

On TV: BBC One (UK); none (USA); Sony TEN 2, TEN 3 (India); SuperSport 1, SuperSport 5 (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: BBC iPlayer (UK); ESPN+ (USA); Sony LIV (India); DStv Now (NGA) — We (WAGNH) have an affiliate link for ESPN+ if you’re in the US and would like to sign up for the best value in sports streaming (or, if you’re like me, sign up for the Disney-Hulu-ESPN+ bundle).

Manchester United team news: United are missing a quartet of non-essential players, including Phil Jones, Axel Tuanzebe, Brandon Williams, and Luke Shaw. Shaw is probably a bit more essential than the other three, but the lesser-spotted Timothy Fosu-Mensah deputized without too much trouble against Crystal Palace midweek, and United also have £20m-man Diogo Dalot.

It feels like United haven’t lost in forever, and reality is actually pretty close to that. Their last defeat was in mid-January, 19 games and 14 wins ago, in all competitions.

Solskjær’s got the team purring as well as he did last year after replacing José Mourinho, and getting good-to-great performances out of most of his key players, including Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Bruno Fernandes, Harry Maguire, and David de Gea. Mason Greenwood has almost as many goals (16) in all competitions as his age (18), and even Paul Pogba’s back and seemingly committed to the cause.

Oh, and they get all the calls, as usual.

Basically, there’s a good reason United are the in-form team at the moment and are the consensus bookies’ favorites as well.

View from the enemy: The Busby Babe

Chelsea team news: In a classic case of youthful inconsistency, Chelsea have largely played up to or down to the level of competition. We’ve played close or even beaten Manchester City and Liverpool, but lost twice to West Ham, just to mention one example. Games against Manchester United do seem to be an exception to that, with Chelsea hardly rising to the levels needed in any of our three games so far this season.

If we are to do differently tomorrow, we’ll have to do so without N’Golo Kanté, which isn’t only a big huge miss in midfield, it’s also a potential problem on the scoresheet. Kanté has scored 2 of his 11 career Chelsea goals against United, including the only goal in the 2016-17 FA Cup quarterfinals.

Who replaces Kanté is a constant and divisive issue. Teenage wonderboy Billy Gilmour succumbed to the knee surgery sirens and we could fill 7000 words talking about just Jorginho — in fact, we did. While Chelsea have had two days extra rest compared to United, we do have a big game coming up on Wednesday, Liverpool’s coronation at Anfield, which still matters greatly to us for top-four purposes.

Previously: Eden Hazard, who’s still winning Chelsea some money these days, too, scored the only goal in the 2018 FA Cup final. We have not beaten United since (0-2-4; 4:13).