The FA Cup fifth round actions draws to a close on Monday evening when Chelsea welcome Manchester United to Stamford Bridge.

In a replay of last season’s FA Cup final, which Chelsea edged 1-0, the two sides have both had indifferent campaigns with new managers at the helm.

Chelsea’s bright start under Maurizio Sarri quickly fell away and there is already talk of the Italian being sacked with Blues players reportedly unhappy about his playing style.

The rumours have come to a head recently with heavy defeats away to Bournemouth and Manchester City, conceding 10 goals without reply.

Meanwhile, Manchester United have been enjoying a recent return to form under caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solksjaer, who replaced Jose Mourinho in December, winning 10 of their 12 games since.

The Red Devils have overcome a number of tough domestic tests but Monday’s game has the added drama of a cup tie which must be decided on the night.

Despite their good form, United can still be got at and broken down, while Chelsea are looking frail.

The midfield battle will be key in deciding who reaches the quarter-finals and who misses out on a potential Wembley date.

But, how can each side gain the advantage? Read on to see Squawka’s take on the game…

How can Chelsea stop Paul Pogba?

Since re-signing for Manchester United in 2016, Paul Pogba has never truly lived up to the expectations that came with his then-world record transfer fee of £89m.

The Frenchman failed to replicate the form he had achieved winning numerous Serie A titles with Juventus as part of a three-man midfield, with Jose Mourinho picking up a fair share of the blame.

Mourinho never really played Pogba in a position best suiting his skills, instead using the midfielder as a square peg in a round hole, almost completely negating the Frenchman.

Things got so bad for Pogba that he midfielder was being linked with a move away from United in January before Mourinho was sacked mid-December, at which point the Red Devils’ season looked over but for a race for sixth.

However, that has since changed and United look like the club of old once again, with Pogba especially finding his form.

The Frenchman has scored eight goals and recorded five assists in 11 games under Solskjaer, directly contributing to 46% of all goals scored since the Norwegian took charge.

This has largely been down to the freedom afforded to him in Solskjaer’s midfield three, with Ander Herrera and Nemanja Matic doing the sitting back.

But, when Man Utd perhaps needed him most against PSG, Pogba was perfectly taken out of the game. Thomas Tuchel deployed centre-back Marquinhos as part of his two-man defensive midfield, with the Brazilian focusing solely on keeping tabs on Pogba.

Marquinhos was a constant nuisance, frustrating Pogba all night, so much so the Frenchman ended up getting sent off late on.

However, it’s one thing saying you will copy a tactic and another actually doing it with the correct personnel.

With Sarri adamant in sticking with his 4-3-3 formation, Chelsea are severely limited in their options. Jorginho is not defensively good enough while Chelsea’s left-sided central midfielder needed to be attacking. That leaves one man, and the only real person for the job: N’Golo Kante.

A lot has been said about Sarri’s poor use of the Frenchman, limiting his defensive capabilities, but Kante has still put in a number of good performances as a box-to-box midfielder of sorts. And he can use this to stop Pogba.

Despite his slightly more advanced positioning, Kante still edges out his Chelsea midfield team-mates when it comes to tackles and interceptions.

The Frenchman has made 47 tackles in the Premier League this season, at an average of 1.82 per 90 minutes. Kante has also made 36 interceptions, more than any other Chelsea player.

But it is his energy and reading of the game that will be required most, invading Pogba’s personal space for at least 90 minutes.

When Pogba gets the ball, Kante needs to be there. When Pogba is in space, Kante needs to be there. When Pogba leaves the United dressing room for the second half, Kante needs to be there.

Subscribe to Squawka’s Youtube channel:

Who can suffocate Jorginho for Man Utd?

But it’s not just Man Utd who boast a midfielder key to their playing style. Sarri’s arrival at Chelsea in the summer was almost immediately followed up by the signing of Jorginho.

The Italian had been key for Sarrismo at Napoli for his technical ability, hoping to draw opponents to open up gaps.

From the early stages it looked as though Chelsea could be unstoppable in attack with Jorginho playing conductor. But things quickly changed.

Teams worked out just how key Jorginho is to Sarrismo, summarising that in stopping the Italian one stops Chelsea.

This is something Manchester United used previously in the 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge earlier in the season.

Then, Mourinho used Juan Mata to sit on Jorginho in the central attacking position in a 4-2-3-1. By doing so, the Spaniard would not be opening up unnecessary gaps in his own defence by following Jorginho.

And it worked perfectly while Mata was on the pitch, with Chelsea’s late comeback only arriving after the Spaniard had been replaced.

But this is unlikely to be the case with Solskjaer in charge. In his 12 games so far, the Norwegian has only used a 4-2-3-1 twice and is unlikely to bring it back for the Chelsea tie.

The likeliest formation for United will be matching Chelsea’s 4-3-3. Should Mata play, it would be as a winger – not the best position for him to stop Jorginho.

Unless struck by late injury problems, United’s midfield looks set to be made up of Pogba, Matic and Herrera.

Herrera will be needed to keep an eye on Eden Hazard, as he has done so brilliantly in the past, while Matic will sit just in front of the defence.

That leaves Pogba to be pressing high on Jorginho.

It may not be the most appealing of roles, or play to Pogba’s strengths, but sometimes sacrifices need to be made – especially in knockout football.

In addition to all his technical abilities, Pogba is also an imposing figure, holding roughly four inches in height over Jorginho. The Frenchman has averaged 1.31 tackles per 90 minutes in the Premier League this season, but 1.59 when taking games played just under Solskjaer into account.

Jorginho has not done well when put under physical pressure this season, and Pogba can be key to winning the ball high up for United.

Should he do so, then the Frenchman’s attacking nous can come into play, setting up one of United’s attackers to capitalise on his hard work.

It will be a tough ask for Pogba, but the Frenchman is more than capable of being Solskjaer’s man once more.

Source link –