For Antonio Conte winning the FA Cup may be the perfect way to say goodbye to Chelsea and the club’s fans.
The Italian, so beloved during his first season in charge at Stamford Bridge, a campaign that ended in the Blues winning the Premier League title, has cut an increasingly moody figure since last summer. His unhappy demeanour undoubtedly played a role in the Blues finishing outside of the Premier League top four this term.
So the clash against Manchester United at Wembley is likely to be Conte’s last hurrah as Chelsea boss. He’ll hope to make it count.
If the former Juventus manager departs having won the Premier League and FA Cup in two seasons at Stamford Bridge then it would be impossible for anyone to say he failed at Chelsea. Even without winning the cup it would be a stretch to suggest the Italian hasn’t done sterling work.
It’s just that most of it came last season. Conte will need to discover that tactical spark this week to overcome José Mourinho, a man he spent a large chunk of the campaign bickering with.
Tactically outsmarting the Portuguese is not easy, but the Chelsea boss has managed it in the past, most memorably their first meeting in English football when the Blues beat United 4-0 at Stamford Bridge.
A repeat scoreline is highly unlikely, even though United do have injury concerns. In truth, this game may be one of caution, with each team waiting for the other to make a mistake.
Conte is fortunate that he can pick for a virtually fit squad. The only absentees will be Danny Drinkwater (calf), Ethan Ampadu (ankle) and David Luiz (ankle).
Our unique algorithm has predicted the Chelsea side it believes will start the game.
Football Whispers uses data to predict teams’ starting XIs, taking into account injuries, suspensions, the statistical likelihood of a player being selected, the competition the match is in, players’ previous performances and the opponent’s style.
And you can also give it a go yourself. Just click ‘create your own’ on the line-up at the top of the page and pick your ideal XI for the game. You can also see each player’s stats once you’ve selected them.
When you’re happy with your team, press confirm and you’ll be able to share it with your friends via social media.