Chelsea v Manchester United | Monday 18th February 2019, 19:30 | BBC
This was arguably the tie that garnered the most attention when the draw for the 5th Round of the FA Cup was made a few weeks ago and it’s a heavyweight match-up to conclude proceedings. Interestingly, it’s a repeat of last year’s final and that day Chelsea ran out 1-0 winners via an Eden Hazard penalty.
Both managers from 2018 – Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho – are no longer in situ at their respective clubs. It’s the current Chelsea gaffer Maurizio Sarri who is coming under increased scrutiny now though – one would think progressing to the quarter-finals of this prestigious competition will ease some of that pressure.
There’s obvious flaws in what the chain-smoking Neapolitan is trying to do at Stamford Bridge. It’s almost becoming a tedious train of thought, but persisting with an out-of-form Jorginho as a defensive midfield pivot instead of playing N’Golo Kante in his preferred position is a strange manoeuvre.
Having said that, if he goes then it just shows how much of a joke modern football is. It’s his first season in England where the playing style is different to Italy, he’s not benefited from the kind of funds that Roman Abramovich gave to previous managers and his distinct ‘Sarriball’ style will take a few transfer windows to be fully ingrained and implemented.
Sarri has also managed to get his side to the EFL Cup final and progressed with ease in the Europa League. Let’s not forget, it was no plain sailing for Pep Guardiola’s debut season in the Premier League.
Pogba to play an influential part
Ole Gunnar Solsksjær suffered his defeat as Manchester United temporary manager in midweek after being outclassed by PSG. That defeat seems to have had an impact physically on the side with both Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial coming off injured. That could mean Romelu Lukaku partners Marcus Rashford up top – the Belgian impressed away at Arsenal in the previous round where he occupied a right forward position.
It could also mean Paul Pogba has a more influential role going forward with Ander Herrera and Nemanja Matic likely to be sitting in front of the back four. The Frenchman likes a shot – he’s averaging 3.40 shots per-game in the Premier League and managing to land a respectable 1.80 of those on-target.
Pogba is 2/1 to have two or more shots on-target with Betfair and it makes appeal.
I’m expecting United to follow the modus operandi when it comes to facing Chelsea and that’s to employ a high, intense press to halt Jorginho from dictating the game. Given Lingard’s lack of availability, I’d expect Pogba to be more advanced and aimed with winning the ball back in dangerous areas. He’s also on penalty duties as well as some free-kicks, both of which are a bonus.
Goals on the agenda
I’m also keen to side with goals. We can back Over 2.5 Goals at 5/6 with Winner. It’s landed in 20/26 United league games this season and with the Red Devils posing a threat on the counter attack, I could see them getting on the scoresheet here.
Overs has landed in 16/26 Chelsea league games too, which when combined with United, gives a total of 36/52 collective games that have seen three or more goals. That implies around a 7/10 shot so the 5/6 available looks value.
Chelsea v Manchester United – Paul Pogba to have 2+ shots on-target (2/1 Betfair)
Chelsea v Manchester United – Over 2.5 Goals (5/6 Winner)