Sudden death on the agenda as Mourinho plots the Godfather’s downfall
Chelsea take on Manchester United on Monday in the standout tie of the 2016/17 FA Cup quarter-finals and a winner has to be determined on the night, following the introduction of new rules that sees all ties from this stage of the competition being decided by ‘sudden death’ and a fourth substitute allowed in extra-time.
José Mourinho is yet to taste victory against Antonio Conte as a manager but the early indications are that he will attempt to find something special, to ensure that his United side does what is required to progress to the semi-finals.
Goal expectancies – Chelsea 1.85 Man Utd 1.12
Team news & predicted starting line-ups for Chelsea v Man Utd
Conte has no injuries to worry about and he is expected to stick with his familiar 3-4-3 formation.
Mourinho, on the other hand, often likes to spring a surprise in big matches and if Thursday’s Europa League game in Rostov is anything to go by, he may well be plotting something special. United lined up with a 3-man defence in Russia, for the first time since Mourinho took charge and it will be fascinating to see if he sticks with it, in an attempt to neutralise the Chelsea attack and out-man them in midfield.
Chelsea team news
Cesc Fàbregas may have started the last 3 matches but Serbian midfielder Nemanja Matić is expected to get the nod over his Spanish team-mate, with Conte opting to go with the same line-up that thrashed United 4-0 at Stamford Bridge earlier in the season.
Chelsea fantasy player to watch
Pedro got the ball rolling in that emphatic victory over United when he scored in the first minute and the Spanish international has been in devastating form since Christmas.
He has scored 8 goals and chipped in with 4 assists since Boxing Day, helping the Blues to build what looks like an unassailable lead in their pursuit of the Premier League title.
Predicted starting line-up for Chelsea (vs Man Utd)
Man Utd team news
Zlatan Ibrahimović misses out through suspension, after picking up a retrospective 3-match ban by the FA for his retaliative elbow on Bournemouth’s Tyrone Mings, while Bastian Schweinsteiger remains injured.
Despite pre-game concerns about the state of the playing surface. Mourinho will be encouraged by the fact that the majority of his players came through Thursday’s encounter with Rostov seemingly unscathed. However, latest reports suggest that Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial will not be fit to face the Blues, while Marcus Rashford is sick and also looks set to miss out.
Eric Bailly may come in for Phil Jones, who has made costly errors in the last 2 matches, while Jesse Lingard may have to make do with a place on the bench. However, with the specter of extra-time on the horizon Lingard’s energy could be a real asset if the Chelsea players tire.
Marouane Fellaini has had plenty to say about Sky pundit Jamie Carragher and he looks set to lead the line, with Mourinho seemingly out of other options.
Man Utd fantasy player to watch
Henrikh Mkhitaryan was WhoScored’s highest rated player in the Bundesliga last season and there are positive signs suggesting that a return to that level is imminent.
The Armenian international was on the score-sheet in Russia and is likely to play in an advanced role again on Monday, although fantasy managers should note that in his post-match comments, Mourinho revealed that Mkhitaryan is still not ready to complete 90 minutes.
Predicted starting line-up for Man Utd (vs Chelsea)
Conte’s players referred to him as ‘The Godfather’, when he was in charge of the Italian national side but he might need to tread carefully this weekend, with Mourinho eager to silence him and get revenge for that 4-0 drubbing at the Bridge earlier in the season.
It promises to be unmissable!