Both teams, mainly their managers, have come under intense scrutiny throughout the campaign. Mourinho has been lambasted for his style of play, his continued criticism of players, an inability to excite the crowd, and most of all a failure to challenge in the Premier League and the Champions League.
Jose Mourinho with some last minute insults for Luke Shaw before he comes on pic.twitter.com/m7OTNqdsEg
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOE_UK) May 13, 2018
The fact Mourinho has led United to their highest league position, 2nd, since Sir Alex stepped down is somewhat overshadowed by the fact they finished 19 points behind City.
They have struggled to find a consistent fluidity, with Mourinho looking further away from knowing his best 11 than he did at the beginning of the season. The acquisition of Alexis Sanchez, who scored the equaliser in the Semi Final, looks to have become more of a problem than a solution, and Pogba, who has shown glimpses of brilliance, has failed to find a consistency.
Then there has been the problem of finding consistent goals when Lukaku isn’t firing. After missing the final three games of the season, United have only found the net once in that period, in a 1-0 win at home to Watford on the last day of the season.
Despite finishing second in the league, United are the second lowest goalscorers in the top 6 of the Premier League, with only Saturdays opponents sitting below them, and Mourinho has been quick to condemn his attacking alternatives for failure to take their opportunities.
Whether Saturday will come too soon for Lukaku will remain to be seen, but it is obvious that United are certainly more a threat with him in the side.
Chelsea’s own failures in front of goal have been a large part of the reason why they have failed to qualify for next seasons Champions League. After spending a record fee on Alvaro Morata it hasn’t quite worked out for the Spaniard, he has lacked the required physicality and is too often bullied off the ball, having found the net only 11 times in total, 3 of which being a hat-trick against relegated Stoke, the paltry stats fail to put fear into the heart of combative defenders.
The January signing of Giroud has seems to have provided Chelsea with a physicality that they have been missing throughout the campaign. Giroud has brought qualities which Morata was expected to possess, but he has proven much stronger in the air, on the ball to bring the likes of Willian and Hazard into the game.
Conte bemoaned the transfer policy at the beginning, and the merry-go-round sale of Matic to purchase Bakayoko has failed spectacularly, with Ross Barkley being an almost non-existent entity. (Has anyone seen Danny Drinkwater lately?)
Chelsea, like United, have failed to find a creative consistency, and it’s their key players, and league position, that have suffered for it.
What Saturday largely boils down to is, who actually wants to go out and win this trophy?
Conte has looked looked like a man who’s passion for the career has receded like his own unfortunate hairline, with the writing potentially on the wall for the Italian, he looks like he’s just waiting to be handed a cheque, and call time of his stay in London.
For a completely bald man Antonio Conte has got such lovely hair. Amazing how it all grew back. pic.twitter.com/6eVl8nS4rN
— Rob Beckett (@robbeckettcomic) April 8, 2018
Even if this is to be the case he does have the opportunity to go out on a high, and his counterpart Jose Mourinho will never pass up the opportunity to add a trophy to his incredible CV.
The players mentality is going to be a massive factor, a lot of players have already been confirmed for the World Cup, now less than a month away. Is a player going to risk blowing the opportunity of a career going into a make or break 50/50 challenge that could cost them a place on the plane?
Players like Courtois and Hazard, who have been stalling on contracts, will see the World Cup as an opportunity to put themselves in the shop window. Is it really worth risking the opportunity for a domestic honour?
I would expect United to narrowly edge it, but it wouldn’t be surprising for the fixture to have an uncharacteristically open feel, with a few mistakes being made.
G Neville: “If Liverpool now win the European Cup and Chelsea beat United in the FA Cup final, to be honest I might go travelling for a year to somewhere where there’s no Wi-Fi or phone signal. Actually, there might be a few million United fans joining me.” #MUFC
— Devils Latest (@Devils_Latest) May 16, 2018