The cream usually rises to the top in the FA Cup and Saturday’s final brings together the teams that finished second and fifth in the Premier League. The higher placed team usually prevails which means Manchester United should beat Chelsea at Wembley Stadium. Statistically there should be two or three goals so correct score punters should consider 2-1 for United after 90 minutes. Since 1992/93 there have been more goals in the second half than first half more often than not.
The average finishing position in the league of the Cup winners during the Premier League era is 4th. The average finishing position of the losing finalists is seventh so those averages will be improved on if United beat Chelsea. On current form they are the most likely winners and Jose Mourinho understands the value of winning trophies. In his first full season in charge at Old Trafford United won the League Cup and Europa League so three titles in two years would not be a disaster.
However, Mourinho was recruited to make United competitive in the Premier League and Champions League. His team were always going to be way off the pace behind Manchester City but United were best of the rest and won more games and points than last season. Winning the FA Cup would keep the momentum going but sooner or later Mourinho must deliver one of the two trophies that matter most. The nature of the loss to Sevilla in the last 16 of the Champions League was disappointing. United gave away the initiative in the second leg at Old Trafford and elimination was not a shock.
Chelsea maintained the pattern of winning the Premier League and then underperforming the following season. Even though they were still in running for a top four finish on the final day Liverpool never looked like slipping up against Brighton and Chelsea were abysmal in the must win fixture against Newcastle. Antonio Conte’s days look numbered so his players may not respond to his plans for the Cup Final. Winning the Cup may not save Conte and another managerial change looks imminent at Chelsea.
United have qualified for the Champions League and Chelsea will be playing in the Europa League because they finished fifth. The winners of the FA Cup qualify for the Europa League but that is not an issue for the two finalists. The momentum is with United and Chelsea didn’t look interested at Newcastle. Its up to Conte to motivate the players but if they know he is through the door that could be difficult. United beat Chelsea 4-0 in the Cup Final in 1994 when Eric Cantona converted two identical penalties and Mark Hughes and Brian McClair completed the scoring.
Chelsea won the FA Cup four times in six years from 2007 to 2012, including a 1-0 win over United in the first year of that spell. Manchester United won the FA Cup two years ago to break Arsenal’s run that has brought them three Cup Final wins over the last four years. Chelsea were the losing finalists last May and are predicted to be so again on Saturday because United are expected to be running around Wembley with the trophy. Another defeat could be the end of the line for Conte but Mourinho will maintain his record of winning all types of trophies for fun.