Having fallen well short of Manchester City in the Premier League title race and Liverpool in the Champions League, Manchester United and Chelsea’s season boils down to their FA Cup final meeting at Wembley on Saturday. It’s a chance to recognise the Red Devils’ obvious improvement under Jose Mourinho this term with silverware, and gloss over yet another disappointing title defence from the Blues.
This will be the third time these two clubs have met in the FA Cup final, so can previous meetings tell us anything about how Saturday’s clash will pan out? Here’s the complete Premier League history of Chelsea vs Manchester United in the Premier League…
There have been 14 FA Cup encounters to date between the Blues and the Red Devils, with the latter claiming twice as many wins as the former during that time and scoring eleven more goals. In fact, Chelsea won just one of their first ten cup clashes against United, conceding a whopping 21 goals.
Since 2007 though, there’s been a real power shift in this fixture. United haven’t won any of the last four meetings, Chelsea winning three and drawing 2-2 for a replay in 2013.
But only Arsenal have featured in the same number of FA Cup finals as the Old Trafford outfit, and only Arsenal have won more FA Cups than them. That will give United huge confidence going into the weekend. Their FA Cup final win rate is an impressive 60%, 6% higher than Chelsea’s.
The incredible career of the late, great Ray Wilkins will be the backdrop for Saturday’s final. The former midfielder’s family have been invited to attend as special guests and his widow Jackie will hand the trophy to this weekend’s victors. The hoardings will display Wilkins’ name as the teams walk out and there will be a short video to honour him before kickoff.
That’s of course, because Wilkins is a legendary figure for both clubs. He started his career at Chelsea, helping fire them back to the First Division in 1997, but eventually left Stamford Bridge in search of greater success. He found it to an extent at Old Trafford; fittingly for this weekend, Wilkins’ only major honour with the Red Devils was the FA Cup in 1983.
Wilkins would later return to his boyhood club as assistant manager on two separate occasions, twice stepping in as caretaker.
It might be something of a sore spot for Chelsea fans, but the 4-0 defeat to Manchester United in the 1994 FA Cup final actually represents the very start of their rise to prominence. Glenn Hoddle took the reigns at Stamford Bridge a year earlier and marked his first season with an outing at Wembley, the first time Chelsea had got there since 1972.
It was actually a relatively close game until the hour mark, Chelsea even hitting the bar, when Sir Alex Ferguson’s side suddenly sprung into life. Eric Cantona scored two penalties in the space of six minutes, Mark Hughes followed up a further three minutes later and then substitute Brian McClair provided the finishing touch to the 4-0 romping in stoppage time.
But Hoddle’s tenure signalled that times were changing in west London after several years in the wilderness. Chelsea finished 14th in the Premier League that season; three years later they’d be sixth and eight years later they’d be English champions.