Manchester United will be looking to secure a spot in the FA Cup final and seal their first piece of silverware under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, as they meet Chelsea in today’s semi-final (kick off 6pm).
An empty Wembley will play host to Manchester United vs Chelsea, with Solskjaer gunning for a fourth victory over opposite number Frank Lampard this season.
United have already done the league double over the Stamford Bridge club and also beat them in the Carabao Cup. Solskjaer has been forced to make five changes for today’s cup tie after United battled for a hard-fought win over Crystal Palace on Thursday in the Premier League.
Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford have been in superb form for United recently, though the former has been left on the bench alongside Paul Pogba. Brandon Williams has been picked to start at left wing-back for Solskjaer’s side, with Fred, Daniel James and Eric Bailly recalled.
United XI: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Lindelof, Maguire, Williams; Fred, Matic, Fernandes; James, Rashford.
Chelsea attack down the left, before Alonso loses it.
GOOOOOAAAAAAL! FERNANDES Manchester United 1 Chelsea 3
Fernandes leaps into the air, sending the keeper the wrong way and rolling it into the other corner.
Martial breaks into the box and Hudson-Odoi makes a rash challenge – definitely a penalty.
84 mins: Manchester United 0 Chelsea 3
Chance for United. Space opens up for Fernandes but his ball towards Greenwood has too much on it and it runs to the keeper.
83 mins: Manchester United 0 Chelsea 3
Chelsea continue to press with intensity, forcing passing errors from United who look like they just want to go home at this point…
3-0 Chelsea. Game over.
73 MIN, 0-2
Pogba has been booked
United build an attack but then Rashford squanders possession.
Paul Pogba has recently become the game’s first recipient of a yellow card. Baffling that no Chelsea players have been booked, as it seems as though they’ve committed a huge amount of fouls.
67 mins: Manchester United 0 Chelsea 2
DRINKS BREAK – Chelsea’s game to lose.
65 mins: Manchester United 0 Chelsea 2
Both of them are up. Fernandes stands over the ball, he crosses and James does well to put it out for a corner.
Caballlero comes for it, misses, but Maguire heads wide! Chance!
57 mins: Manchester United 0 Chelsea 2
A smart routine from the free kick is worked – Fernandes short to Wan Bisakka who picks out Maguire at the back post. His header is at Caballero. Better from United.
55 mins: Manchester United 0 Chelsea 2
Maguire now makes a mistake, passing the ball to Willian who breaks down the right. United get back well to kill the momentum. United have been so sloppy.
James gets in behind for United and Rudiger fouls him on the edge of the box. Greenwood and Pogba on for James and Fred. Good aggressive management.
Here is the Mount goal – de Gea has to do better!
Chelsea have been the better team United have not adapted to their formation today – bringing on Martial will help them in the second half.
Half time ratings
Manchester United 0 – 1 Chelsea 19/07/2020 18:00Referee: Mike Dean|Venue: Wembley Stadium
Another awful error. 4
Not a particularly energetic half. 5
Let Giroud in to score. 4
In the wars and had to come off. 6
Defended stoutly. 6
Non-existent in attack. 5
Shown experience. 6
Forced a save. 6
Feeding off scraps. 5
Not got going. 5
A half to forget for Manchester United, for a number of reasons.
Eric Bailly’s serious injury and now a goal for Chelsea. Time to regroup.57 MIN, 0-1
De Gea at fault
You have to question Lindelof, but also De Gea for that goal. How didn’t he stop it? He got half a hand on Giroud’s flick but it wasn’t enough.
Chelsea deserve their lead, to be fair.
A brilliant reverse ball from Fernandes almost unpicks the Chelsea lock. James just can’t get there.
Chelsea score at the other end! Giroud flicks beyond De Gea
52 MINS, 0-0
Applause for Bailly
Applause from both sets of players for Bailly as he’s carried off on a stretcher.
Not nice to see and we hope he’s okay.
48 MIN, 0-0
Change of system
We’re well into five added minutes now. There could be more, because of the head injury stoppages.
Looks like a change of shape for United with Martial going up front. Four at the back again. Mike Dean has held up the play for longer still, because Bailly needs treatment right next to the sideline.
Solskjaer shouts some instructions to his players: “let’s get going again”.13821209136945 MIN, 0-0
Martial coming on
Maguire looks like he’ll be ok, as he’s being strapped up.
Eric Bailly may not be ok. Anthony Martial is being prepared.43 MIN, 0-0
Two men down
Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Ruben Loftus-Cheek enjoying a laugh as they warm up together on the sidelines.
On opposite sides tonight but former Crystal Palace loan buddies.
Harry Maguire is the latest to be stricken with a knock to the head, caused by Eric Bailly of all people. Bailly himself has gone down again too.41 MIN, 0-0
Changes might be needed soon
It’s not happening right now.
40 MIN, 0-0
Zouma and Bailly clashed heads there and are both down receiving treatment.
Brave defending from the United man.39 MIN, 0-0
Zouma heads over
Chelsea have a corner in the Wembley sunshine, which Matic nods away.
A good run down the left by Mount then creates an opening for Zouma, who heads over. A half chance at least.37 MIN, 0-0SAMUEL LUCKHURST
Subs already warming up
Difficult to make out the players but it looks like Fosu-Mensah and Pereira are warming up. The occasion does not call for either. It does call for Pogba if this persists from United.
The sudden change to a pre-lockdown formation, some of the personnel choices and the three games in a week have contributed to this. It has been one of the worst behind-closed-doors games in England.
35 MIN, 0-0
A bit better
Some fluency finally coming back in United’s football now.
They’re pushing Chelsea back a little.
33 MIN, 0-0
Mistakes by both attacks
A great idea from the corner by Fernandes, playing a quick one through to Matic but it doesn’t quite work out.
Chelsea then break after a Dan James mistake but Willian doesn’t get the final ball right.32 MIN, 0-0
Free kick saved
It’s hit by Fernandes and it’s at least on target, saved by Caballero.
31 MIN, 0-0TYRONE MARSHALL
Breaking the battle
United have had success against Chelsea playing a back three this season but what they haven’t faced is Chelsea matching them up and at the moment the change from Frank Lampard looks to be stifling United. The three central defenders of Chelsea have been pretty comfortable when United have threatened to break, which hasn’t been that often. It looks like Lampard was expecting United to go with the back three again and at the moment he’s edging this tactical battle.
United, though, have a free-kick chance here.30 MIN, 0-0
Flickers of life for United
Fernandes plays through James but he has to check back rather than steam through.
It then comes back for United via a Matic ball to Rashford, but the striker mis-controls, then Fernandes gives it away.28 MIN, 0-0
The delivery misses everyone, thankfully for United.
They need to get something going at the opposite end here. Chelsea are pressing effectively.
27 MIN, 0-0
Maguire holds Giroud and concedes a free-kick, then boots the ball away in frustration.
Yet another Chelsea set piece coming into the United box here…26 MIN, 0-0SAMUEL LUCKHURST
United lucky to be level
If Louis van Gaal is watching he will be feeling smug about his ‘park the bus’ description of Solskjaer’s United last year.
That is how they are playing and it has been as unwatchable as it is ineffectual. But they have got through the first 20 minutes and, if it is written off as a period of reacquainting themselves with the formation then fair enough. But they do not look like a team playing in an FA Cup semi-final.
24 MIN, 0-0
Fernandes takes a knock
Bruno Fernandes has taken a knock in a rather sensitive area. He should be fine, but it’s a good time for a drinks break.
23 MIN, 0-0
Chelsea pushing hard
Willian takes the corner and it’s beyond everyone.
Chelsea come back with a good Reece James cross and in the end United concede another free-kick.22 MIN, 0-0
Although Chelsea are definitely dominating the game, they must be well on top in the foul count too. A clear tactic to stop United’s counter-attack?
Fred and Rashford are both on the receiving end of tackles, but Chelsea come back and win a corner when Mount’s shot is blocked by Maguire.20 MIN,
All blue on the ball
Chelsea pass, pass, pass. United can’t get hold of it.
18 MIN, 0-0TYRONE MARSHALL
Another slow start
Slow starts are becoming a theme for United and for the fourth game in a row they’ve been second best during the opening exchanges. Chelsea have looked comfortable defensively and are winning the battle in midfield. They’ve created the only changes in the game so far. In the last three games United have recovered from slow starts to score five first half goals, but that might be a difficult task here.
Some concern for United at the moment as Fernandes winces following a Jorginho tackle. Then Fred squanders possession. United struggling a touch.
17 MIN, 0-0SAMUEL LUCKHURST
Formation not quite functioning
Pogba has been so good at keeping the play calm in recent games and United have been missing that so far. They have not adapted to the change of formation well and it maybe a case of getting through to the drinks pause and then kicking on from there.
Maguire looked a little uncomfortable earlier and shouted something at McKenna but no substitutes have warmed up.16 MIN, 0-0
It’s an entirely different kind of game to the ones United have been winning in recent weeks.
Chelsea are a different calibre of team. Big miss from Alonso after Azpilicueta sends in a dangerous cross. The header went over but should’ve been on target.
14 MIN, 0-0
Poor from Matic to give the ball away easily and invite Chelsea onto United.
Fernandes and Fred snap around the blue shirts to help their defence out. The possession is all Chelsea’s at the minute.12 MIN, 0-0
Maguire v Giroud
Chelsea are just turning up the pressure a little here, probing from one side to the other.
Maguire is shackled Olivier Giroud so far.11 MIN, 0-0
Reece James shot
Mike Dean gets in the way of Matic and Chelsea then have their first proper shot… Reece James blasting at goal and forcing De Gea to save.
There would have been some complaints if that had gone in.
9 MIN, 0-0
United attack fizzles out
A United attack threatens to look good but James and Fred don’t quite get it right.
Chelsea are relieved to win a free-kick.
8 MIN, 0-0SAMUEL LUCKHURST
James is getting a lot of guidance on his pressing from McKenna, who is effectively telling him when to push higher up and when to ‘let it go’. Solskjaer just had to shout to James to ‘get up the line’. Pulling wide is essential in this split-striker tactic and has worked for united against Chelsea and Liverpool – when James assisted Rashford. Carrick has just come out to advise James, too.
Fred just got a round of applause from the veteran Matic for the piece of play.7 MIN, 0-0
Good play from Fred to play himself out of a tight spot and then win a free-kick, awarded by everyone’s favourite referee, the bearded Mike Dean.
5 MIN, 0-0
Fernandes on the ball
First proper spell for Chelsea now, and a test for that United shape.
Tactical discipline will be more important than ever before, as United break through Fernandes whose chipped ball for James is too long.3 MIN, 0-0
Left wing combo
United have had plenty of the ball early on, with Williams battling well down the left. Rashford is ghosting into some good positions in the inside-left channel.2 MIN, 0-0SAMUEL LUCKHURST
James is playing on the right of the front two with Fernandes in the hole, so exactly as expected from United. Kieran McKenna, again, is the technical area attendant for United with Solskjaer settling for a tactical vantage point. KEY EVENT
Here we go then. We’re under way.17:59
Ready to go
The players are out and kick off is not very far away at all.17:56
Boost for United
It’s finished Tottenham 3-0 Leicester in the Premier League’s Sunday game.
That hands a major chance to United and their top four hopes.
There’s no hidden tactic within the United XI; the three centre halves are warming up together with Kieran McKenna, so both teams are going to line up as everyone expects them to.
However dubious the United side and approach is, Chelsea’s XI is a rather underwhelming one and rife with doubt. Caballero is a cup goalkeeper but Arrizabalaga has been an error-prone signing.
Lampard has been lauded for his faith in the club’s academy players yet Loftus-Cheek, Hudson-Odoi, Tomori, and Abraham are all on the bench. Mount might feel the pinch when Ziyech and Werner are available to play.17:47TYRONE MARSHALL
Pressure has changed?
The teams selected by both managers today show their priority is the games in the coming week and securing a top four spot, but you wonder if they might have been a little bolder in selecting their strongest sides if Leicester had been thumped by Tottenham yesterday rather than just before this semi-final?
The Foxes are falling apart in their pursuit of a top four finish and United and Chelsea have to be favourites to make the top four. What they need to achieve that has changed as a result of Leicester’s defeat, easing the pressure a little on the games in the week.
Why Pulisic is benched
He’s been excellent for Chelsea in recent weeks but starts among the substitutes today.17:39
United players at Wembley
Getting their game-faces on.17:38
Getting ready for the big kick off.
Solskjaer explains his changes
This is what Solskjaer told MUTV when asked about the changes he’s made to his side today…
“There’s a chance for everyone. They’ve been waiting patiently, doing well when they have a chance, Fred and Jamo bring fresh legs and some intensity we need on a big pitch, a draining Wembley pitch.
“They’ve played a lot of football, it’s about freshening up the team but giving them the chance to make a difference when they come on.”
Same tactic vs Lampard
Lingard is here, so it’s all the more galling for him he is not involved today. Solskjaer seems to be alternating between him and Pereira as United’s 20th man in matchday squads.
An unnamed colleague who lives in the north and loves Southampton and Luke Shaw says United should have gone with the team today against Palace. It is a valid point and if United do prevail today then questions have to be asked of Lampard’s inability to overcome the same tactic on three separate occasions in games that encompass nine months.
For those familiar with the Wembley press box, the familiarity of it is reassuring even in such eerily sparse surroundings.
The Chelsea camp
Interesting that Christian Pulisic doesn’t start for Chelsea today, while Lampard appears to be playing a three-man defence of his own.
There’s no N’golo Kante or Ross Barkley in the squad.17:17
Discipline but freedom for Fernandes
The 3-5-2 is very different from the 4-2-3-1 that United have been playing.17:14SAMUEL LUCKHURST
Jesse Lingard, someone who seemed in line for a shock recall today, does not even make the bench.
You have to wonder if Solskjaer is resting on his laurels by switching to a formation that United last used before the lockdown. Fred has not had the same fluency and Daniel James has not performed for months. Chelsea have had ample warnings to prepare themselves for this and perhaps they will rumble United today.
Or maybe Solskjaer has the hex on Lampard.
Selection shows priorities
That team selection clearly shows that a top four finish is more important than reaching the FA Cup final and unfortunately that is just the way in modern football. United have missed out on about £70million this season by not being in the Champions League and with revenues taking a hit during the coronavirus pandemic rectifying that is absolutely vital for United.
Solskjaer has some big players in reserve should they be required but the decision to rest Pogba, Martial and Greenwood in this game rather that against Southampton or Palace reveals the priority for the final week of the season.
Some huge selection calls
Big calls from Solskjaer, who has switched to the split-striker tactic that served United so well against Chelsea in their Stamford Bridge wins. It’s a slight surprise he has reverted to it, given this is a very different United from the ones that went to West London in October and February.
The mitigation is United have had three games this week and have a huge game on Wednesday, while Chelsea last played five days ago. But it suggests Solskjaer is not completely convinced in this team’s ability to take games to the elite.
United squad in full
United XI: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Lindelof, Maguire, Williams; Fred, Matic, Fernandes; James, Rashford.
Just an update from that Tottenham vs Leicester game that could have major ramifications for United’s top four hopes.
A James Justin own goal means Spurs lead 1-0, which would be a huge boost for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men. Leicester are trying to muster a response.16:24
Fourth meeting this season
United fans are all aware who won the previous three.16:14TYRONE MARSHALL
One of Solskjaer’s biggest decisions today is whether to stick with the back four that has seen United play such dazzling football or go back to the back three which has worked twice against Chelsea this season and has been a regular tactic in the biggest games.
There’s a theory that United have made such strides recently that they need to change the system to try and thwart the opposition and should instead focus on making the most of their own qualities. The absence of Luke Shaw, who brings such balance to a back three, might also be a factor.16:05TYRONE MARSHALL
‘Win trophies playing the right way’
There was an interesting comment from Solskjaer during his press conference yesterday when he said this United side wanted to “win trophies playing the right way”, saying they’d come a long way in terms of changing the style of play. This is certainly a team indistinguishable from the sides under Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho, but both of those managers did win trophies. That’s the challenge now for Solskjaer, to marry up the improvement in style with some silverware.
United have scored 50 goals during their 19 game unbeaten run and they’re one of the most exciting teams to watch in the league at the moment, but they have to be able to do that on the big occasion and that’s the test for them at Wembley today.
Tottenham v Leicester today
It’s a side issue today given United’s focus is on the FA Cup, but how Solskjaer would love a favour from his Old Trafford predecessor Jose Mourinho.
Tottenham take on Leicester, with anything but a Foxes win hugely beneficial for United’s top four hopes. The game is about to kick off in a different part of North London today.
Big calls in United squad
Wembley traffic is still bad even without tens of thousands of supporters. United flew to Luton Airport last night and one would imagine Brandon Williams was on the plane. There are big calls to be made at left-back and in attack, where a third start of the week for Mason Greenwood seems inadvisable, despite the underwhelming support cast available.
Daniel James thrived for United in a split-striker system in both wins at Stamford Bridge this season but Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford are both available today. There is every chance they could start as a front two with Fernandes in the hole and Matic and Pogba the holding midfielders.
Lampard on United’s great strength
Frank Lampard admits Manchester United probably have the ‘most potent’ forward line in all of English football.
United will be relying on their attacking flair to make all of the difference on Sunday when they take on Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have been in immense form since the return of football last month and remain unbeaten in their last 19 matches across all competitions.
The January arrival of Bruno Fernandes has played a key role in United’s resurgent form, while the front-three of Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood have been scoring for fun.
United’s attacking trio have netted an incredible 62 goals between them already this season and Lampard is wary of the attacking threat they pose ahead of the weekend encounter.
“We know Manchester United are playing well.
“They have a very potent front three, probably the most potent front three in the country on pure numbers anyway and obviously Fernandes has made a huge difference since arriving in January.
“You see the strength that’s brought to their team with individual quality but we know that. We have to be confident in ourselves, deal with their threats and worry about us as well.”
Good afternoon, here is a preview of today’s semi-final
Chelsea’s defence will have to be on their toes when they are up against Manchester United’s in-form attacking trio which is the most potent in the country in Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final, manager Frank Lampard said on Friday.
United forwards Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial have scored 22 goals each in all competitions this season while 18-year-old Mason Greenwood has also had a breakthrough season with 16 goals so far.
Lampard also said the mid-season addition of midfielder Bruno Fernandes has vastly improved United’s attack as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side look to extend their unbeaten run in all competitions to 20 games.
“We know they are playing well, they’ve got a very potent front three, the most potent in the country on pure numbers,” Lampard told reporters in a virtual news conference.
“Fernandes has made a huge difference after coming in in January. You see the strength he’s brought to the team and their individual qualities. We have to be confident and deal with these threats.”
Solskjaer had previously said that Chelsea had an unfair advantage having played last played on Tuesday, giving the London side more time to recover, while United played on Thursday but Lampard disagreed with that assessment.
“No, I don’t think we do (have an unfair advantage),” Lampard said. “We have played Saturday, Tuesday. They played Monday, Thursday.
“We both played two games this week, it’s a busy period, you play and recover.”
Lampard confirmed N’Golo Kante would miss the clash at Wembley as the midfielder had still not recovered from a hamstring injury.
“The squad is okay but N’Golo Kante won’t be fit for the match,” he said. “Other than that we have a few niggles.”
While Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says it is unfair that Chelsea have 48 hours more to prepare.
United face Crystal Palace in the Premier League later on Thursday while Chelsea head into the encounter having beat Norwich City on Tuesday.
“There is a concern that they’ve had 48 hours more rest and recovery than us. It’s not fair,” Solskjaer told reporters.
“We spoke about fair scheduling going into this restart. I have to think about Thursday. We have to win that one and then let’s pick up the pieces after that.”
However, Solskjaer said his team were in good shape to deal with the upcoming schedule.
“The next two weeks will be hectic, but we’re very fit. Our lads haven’t felt as fit as this for years,” he added.
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