Chelsea and Manchester United face off on Monday, looking to earn a place in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.
The tie is a repeat of last season’s final, which Chelsea edged 1-0 thanks to a penalty from Eden Hazard, wrapping up their eighth FA Cup.
Chelsea reached the fifth round on the back of two homes wins over Championship opposition in Nottingham Forest and Sheffield Wednesday. Meanwhile, Manchester United saw off Reading in the third round before overcoming Premier League rivals Arsenal last time out.
The two sides have already met this season in the league, a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge, but back then United were managed by Jose Mourinho, who has since been replaced by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
So how will the two teams line up on Monday evening? Read on for Chelsea v Manchester United predicted XIs from several media outlets.
1. Alexis Sanchez to be given another chance
Maurizio Sarri has become largely predictable with his Chelsea starting XIs this season, often picking the same team when there are no restrictions. Having rested a few key players for the most part in Chelsea’s win over Malmo, the Italian is likely to return to his favoured XI despite a busy fixture list over the next two weeks.
This means starts for Gonzalo Higuain, Antonio Rudiger and Marcos Alonso, all of whom sat out of the win over Malmo.
Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante should return to the Chelsea line-up, having come on from the bench in Sweden.
The only real uncertainty with Sarri’s team will be who starts as Chelsea’s left-sided central midfielder. And with Ross Barkley getting the nod in recent weeks, the Englishman could continue against United.
However, United have a bigger problem to deal with. Both Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial have been ruled out for three weeks with injuries picked up during Tuesday’s defeat against PSG.
This has robbed Solskjaer of two-thirds of his favoured front line, meaning changes are set to be made.
Marcus Rashford is unlikely to be moved out wide, so there could be a return in store for Alexis Sanchez, who is yet to impress since joining United last summer.
Elsewhere, Juan Mata is likely to be the right-sided replacement, while given the occasion, first-choice goalkeeper David de Gea may get the nod ahead of Sergio Romero, who has started United’s previous two FA Cup ties.
2. Kovacic over Barkley
As previously mentioned, the only real Chelsea position not guaranteed is that of the left-sided central midfielder.
The Evening Standard believes Mateo Kovacic will get the nod over Barkley, having impressed in Chelsea’s 2-1 win over Malmo on Thursday.
Kovacic’s start against Malmo was his first since Chelsea’s 4-0 away defeat to Bournemouth at the end of January, but the trip to Sweden did see him play on the right in N’Golo Kante’s role, before switching to Jorginho’s spot late on.
Evening Standard‘s predicted Chelsea XI (4-3-3): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso; Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic; Willian, Higuain, Hazard.
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3. Romelu Lukaku to start in Stamford Bridge return?
While we have predicted Sanchez to return, the London-based regional believe Solskjaer will not be keen on giving the Chilean a second chance just yet.
Instead, they see Romelu Lukaku returning to the United starting XI to join Rashford and Mata in attack, potentially playing a wider role or in a 4-3-1-2.
The Standard have also gone for Sergio Romero to continue his cup run having been trusted to keep goal for United in their fourth-round win over Arsenal.
Evening Standard’s predicted Man Utd XI (4-3-3): Romero; Young, Lindelof, Jones, Shaw; Matic, Herrera, Pogba; Lukaku, Mata, Rashford.
4. Willian to be dropped
With Sarri often opting for the same starting XI for most of the season, some of the Blues squad have barely seen any rest time. One of those players is Willian.
The Brazilian has missed just three games all season, starting 31 of his 38 appearances across all competitions.
But the Independent believe he will not be starting against Manchester United, choosing Pedro over Willian to join Higuain and Hazard in attack.
The Independent have also predicted Willy Caballero to start in goal for Chelsea, having kept two clean sheets in two FA Cup games so far this season.
The Independent‘s predicted Chelsea XI (4-3-3): Caballero; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso; Kante, Jorginho, Barkley; Pedro, Higuain, Hazard.