The loss to Newcastle United on the final day of the league campaign meant that Chelsea will miss out on Champions League next season. Antonio Conte might lose his job as a result, but he does have a shot at making things slightly better today, when he takes his side to Wembley, to take on Manchester United in the FA Cup final.
The Blues beat Southampton to get here and will face United, who beat Tottenham Hotspur in the semi-final. Chelsea found it hard to beat United in the league but the FA Cup final is a different ball game and they will want to believe that they can go all the way. The Red Devils, second in the points table, will be confident of their chances but here is the predicted lineup Conte might field for this tie:
Conte has no new injury issues to worry about ahead of this game. Ethan Ampadu, David Luiz and Daniel Drinkwater are all sidelined with injuries while Emerson Palmieri picked up a knock recently and will be assessed before the game.
Expected lineup (3-5-2):
Thibaut Courtois is set to replace Willy Caballero in goal in what will be the Belgian’s first appearance in the FA Cup this season. Antonio Rudiger has found some form late in the season and will keep his place at the heart of the backline for Chelsea while Gary Cahill will look to add some stability from the left side.
Cesar Azpilicueta has been one of the most consistent defenders in the country this season and deserves to keep his place in the side, to the right of Rudiger.
French ace N’Golo Kante has been one of the first names on the team sheet for Chelsea for more than a year now. He will start at the base of the midfield, while Tiemoue Bakayoko will look to add some mettle to the side. He will start in a slightly advanced role alongside Cesc Fabregas, who will be expected to soak up the pressure and deliver defence-splitting passes from a deeper role.
Chelsea have some decent quality on their wings as Victor Moses at right wing back and Marcos Alonso at left wing-back are tasked with adding width to the attack and numbers to the backline when needed.
The biggest dilemma for Conte will be the choice between Olivier Giroud and Alvaro Morata to lead the line. Giroud’s experience in such crunch games at Wembley might see him start alongside Eden Hazard, who practically picks himself in a floating role.
Here is how they might line up: