Key battles: Chelsea v. Man United in FA Cup
A huge FA Cup fifth round battle takes place on Monday, as Premier League giants Chelsea and Manchester United collide at Stamford Bridge for a place in the quarterfinals.
Both Maurizio Sarri and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could really do with reaching the last eight of the FA Cup, as whoever prevails will be the second favorites to win the competition behind Manchester City.
Below is a look at three key battles on the pitch in west London which are likely to decide the outcome.
Eden Hazard v. Ashley Young
Expect to see plenty of hefty challenges flying in to Hazard from Young, as United’s most consistent performer over the past few seasons will have his hands full trying to shut Hazard down. The Belgian wizard has struggled in recent weeks and looks a little bit jaded. Boy, Chelsea need him to get back to his best form and you could argue that playing him as a true central playmaker has got the best out of him this season. It is likely Hazard will start on the left and drift inside and Young will need plenty of help from Ander Herrera and Nemanja Matic to shut him down.
N’Golo Kante v. Paul Pogba
The two French midfielders are expected to lock horns closer than they have recently due to Kante’s new advanced position. Pogba has also been given a more attacking role under Solskjaer, but away from home against one of the big boys it is likely Pogba will start deeper and be asked to launch devastating counter attacks. Kante’s job in this Chelsea team is to win the ball high up the pitch and get himself into the box, which is something he still isn’t comfortable with. It will be intriguing to see if an out-of-form Jorginho plays for Chelsea or if Sarri finally buckles to the immense pressure of people calling for Kante to be restored to his rightful position in front of the back four. Either way, it should be an intriguing midfield battle between two stars of France’s World Cup winning team.
Cesar Azpilicueta v. Alexis Sanchez
The fact that Sanchez loves the FA Cup (he’s scored 10 goals and had nine assists in his 20 FA Cup appearances) is worrying for Chelsea and Solskjaer likening him to a bottle of Ketchup suggests his best is yet to come. Azpilicueta was undone by Raheem Sterling in Chelsea’s embarrassing defeat at Man City and although he gives his all, there’s no doubt his best position is as a center back in a three rather than an out-and-out right back. If Sanchez can get in-behind Azpilicueta, there will be big trouble for Chelsea.