With the top four race preparing to end, Manchester United and Chelsea will lock horns one final time this season for a shot at FA Cup glory.
Two fallen giants. Two historic rivals. Two legend turned managers. Two rebuilding projects. One last shot at glory.
Manchester United versus Chelsea has arguably shaped up to be the most heated domestic rivalry this season. With the top four narrative in place and FA cup glory at stake, there will be certain key clashes that could well decide this all mighty clash of the titans.
1. Kurt Zouma versus Anthony Martial
The most defining clash on Sunday will undoubtedly be United’s red hot forwards against Chelsea’s leaky defenders, the heart at which will be a huge French tussle.
Anthony Martial is the kind of player who can, on his day, rival any top forward in the league and indeed the world. His problem at United has been that these days have been far and few, which makes him a liability for the team more often than not. The changes in management, playing styles and positions has done him no favors either.
Solskjaer has unleashed the French forward as the season has progressed, transitioning him from a winger to a central forward which seems to be his best position. Martial is still very much a streak striker on probably one of his hottest scoring streaks currently. He has already scored twice against Chelsea this season, with his link up play also unlocking the wide forwards.
While Cesar Azpilicueta and Reece James/MarcosAlonso will have a colossal task in their hands of containing the deadly duo of Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford, it all comes down to Kurt Zouma’s tale of redemption.
The French center back was once seriously injured in this very fixture that derailed an extremely promising Chelsea career. After spending two years out on loan to make up for lost time, Zouma earned his place in the Lampard’s first match in charge; against United at the start of the season. Alas, the Blues were crushed 4-0, with Zouma taking all the heat and abuse for the goals and penalty conceded.
The reality though was that Zouma was the only defender trying to defend that day, which has been a recurring theme this season. No other player would make the last ditch tackle Zouma made on Rashford, simply because of all the risk that comes with it going wrong. Zouma might have conceded a penalty but he never once regretted it, going on to make a similar tackle on Christian Benteke that kept Chelsea in the top four race.
Zouma is not about the clever tricks and passes and sticks to the basics of the game which is what Chelsea has needed all season. Too often he is forced to cover for the mistakes of his defensive partners while also performing his duties which makes him so vital…