The 2017-18 Premier League season finally concluded last Sunday with so many surprises, upsets, and inevitable occurrences. But two of league’s big guns have the final showdown on Saturday as Chelsea and Manchester United lock horns for the Emirates FA Cup title – their only opportunity to win a silverware after months of rigorous and relentless football.
Manchester United finished as runners-up in the league but failed to compete with Manchester City for title glory. They also witnessed a shocking exit from the Champions League round of 16 at the hands of Sevilla but Jose Mourinho now has a chance to finish the season on a higher note.
Chelsea had a disastrous season as they not only failed to impress in the Champions League but also failed to qualify for the next season’s one after finishing 5th in the league standings. Antonio Conte would want to salvage something from a dismal campaign and lifting the FA Cup by defying the odds is the only way to do it.
They failed to grab the same last term as they failed to defeat Arsenal in the final but must learn from their mistakes and work on a few things to turn around the fortunes.
Here are 3 things Chelsea must concentrate on in order to defeat Manchester United in the FA Cup final.
Discipline in the defensive third
Jose Mourinho is known for his defensive strategies and would have a detailed analytic view of his former side whom he monitored so closely during his several glorious realms. Conte too is known for a well-crafted defensive organisation but fell short on quite a few occasions this term against Premier League minnows.
Their last two league outings ended in a shocking 1-1 draw against a struggling Huddersfield Town at Stamford Bridge followed by a shambolic 3-0 defeat to Newcastle United. However, they have proven their defensive resilience on several occasions.
The outing against Liverpool, where they maintained resilience and defended a narrow 1-0 lead to keep their top-4 hopes alive is something encouraging and Conte must replicate the same against the Red Devils, who are likely to implement a similar strategy and wait patiently for their opponents to make mistakes.
Conte has gambled while choosing his starting XI in recent weeks which, unfortunately, has not worked out, resulting in unfavourable outcomes. The likes of Eden Hazard, Olivier Giroud and Victor Moses had an astounding game versus Liverpool but were replaced by Pedro, Alvaro Morata and Davide Zappacosta, who struggled all season to settle in at Stamford Bridge.
The ex-Juventus and Azzurri boss also replaced the in-form Marcos Alonso and Cesc Fabregas with Emerson Palmieri and Ross Barkley. Conte, therefore, should not experiment with his starting line-up on Saturday and must field the best possible XI against the mighty Manchester United.
Dominating the midfield game
Conte has preferred to line up three central midfielders on many occasions and must stick to it in order to win the battle in the middle of the park.
Paul Pogba, along with Nemanja Matic, who reunited with his former boss at Manchester United after years of towering presence at Chelsea, will have an edge to exploit the Blues but a midfield trio of N’Golo Kante, Cesc Fabregas, and Tiemoue Bakayoko should be ready for the ultimate battle to orchestrate the show in central midfield.