The outcome of this match will determine which of these teams can be pleased with their 2017/18 campaigns. While Manchester United broke the 80 point barrier for the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, their failure to properly challenge their City rivals for the title will have disappointed their fans. The less said about their timid, spineless Champions League exit to Sevilla, the better.
Not that Chelsea have fared any better. The defending champions made a late run to try to secure Champions League football, but their hopes realistically ended in early April. There’s no shame in going out of Europe to Barcelona, but their poor domestic performance makes it appear inevitable Antonio Conte will leave the club. The FA Cup offers both teams a chance to put a gloss on largely unremarkable seasons.
United are favourites to win, either in 90 minutes or at some point, but there’s very little in it. Karamba price Jose Mourinho’s team at 31/20 to win the match outright, while Chelsea are 9/5, and the teams’ odds to lift the trophy are 5/6 and evens respectively with the same firm. It’s not surprising the prices are closely matched.
United may have won 11 points more than the Blues in the league, but their underlying performances were far closer. In fact, based on expected goals Chelsea should’ve earned three points more than their fellow finalists. Matches between these two clubs are usually close too. Aside from when Chelsea won 4-0 in 2016/17, there’s rarely more than one goal between them.
The last 12 meetings have seen four draws, and five where one side won the match by a single goal. The two league fixtures between them this season saw the home side win by the odd goal too, so this really is hard to call. I’m going for Manchester United to win, as they had a slightly better attack in big matches in 2017/18.
Both sides conceded 11 goals in the mini-league of the Premier League top six, but United scored 14 while Chelsea could only bag nine. The Blues haven’t had a consistent scorer in the big matches this season. Their top scorer in the top six mini league was Marcos Alonso, with three goals. The Spaniard is 13/1 with 888sport to get the opener, and while he’s not the worst outside bet, Chelsea can’t rely on him to score.
A far more likely source of goals is Olivier Giroud, and for a number of reasons. For starters, he has appeared at Wembley ten times with clubs and won every time, so if you like omens there’s one for you. But more importantly he’s in good form, with four goals in his last seven appearances.
He also thrives upon an area of United weakness. The Red Devils have conceded lots of great chances from crosses this season, and Chelsea got the second most crossed assists in the Premier League. It’s no wonder Giroud is only 51/10 to score first with 888sport, or 23/10 with the same firm to net at any time.
Until Romelu Lukaku’s fitness is confirmed, it’s hard to know who to back for United in the scorer market. If he plays, the Belgian undoubtedly looks to be their best bet for the first goal, as he has netted at least twice as many openers in the league as any other United man this season.
Lukaku is 2/1 with BetBright to get on the score sheet, or 5/1 to break the deadlock. While we can pinpoint who might score, should we actually expect many goals? Recent history suggests not, as there has only been at least three goals in two of the last six meetings, albeit one of those was the most recent one.
But these clubs are lead by managers who are inherently conservative. Since Mourinho took charge at Old Trafford, United have been involved in just 32 league games which have featured over 2.5 goals, which is the fewest in the top flight. It has also occurred in only nine of their 20 league matches against the rest of the big six, so the bet has to be for under 2.5 goals, which is priced at 10/19 with SportNation.
The Red Devils are also at the bottom of the ‘both teams to score’ rankings for the same period, and it has only happened in one of the five meetings since Conte and Mourinho took up their current posts. A ‘no’ bet here is available at 5/7 with redbet. These sides met in the first FA Cup final at the new Wembley, in 2007, with Chelsea winning 1-0 thanks to a Didier Drogba goal in extra time. It was a dire final, so while there might not be many more goals this year, let’s at least hope for a bit more entertainment.
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