With Manchester City having strolled to the Premier League title and Liverpool through to the Champions League final, Manchester United’s season could end in disaster – unless they beat Chelsea in tomorrow’s FA Cup final.
Jose Mourinho faces his former club in an enticing end of season clash with iconic silverware on the line, and whichever team loses will end the 2017/18 campaign trophyless.
Mourinho and Conte were appointed managers of United and Chelsea in the summer of 2016, and since then the pair have faced each other five times, where the Italian just about has the upper-hand with three wins to Mourinho’s two.
It’s one of the great modern day rivalries, but tomorrow’s game between United and Chelsea is the biggest game between the Manchester and London clubs in many years with so much riding on the outcome.
Here, MM takes you back into the past and reviews five United-Chelsea clashes which have been important games in deciding the destiny of five separate pieces of silverware for the two clubs.
5. Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea – Manchester United win 3-0 on penalties (FA Community Shield, August 2007 – Wembley Stadium, London, England)
In 2007, United took the Premier League crown away from Chelsea, but in the same year the Blues claimed the FA Cup – this set up a meeting between the pair in the 2007/08 annual curtain raiser.
On a hot day in the English capital, the first half was a game for left-wingers to shine as Ryan Giggs put United ahead on 35 minutes before Florent Malouda levelled ten minutes later for Chelsea.
The second half didn’t provide much entertainment as the scores remained the same, forcing the match to go straight to penalties to decide the outcome.
Englishmen Rio Ferdinand, Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney all scored their spot kicks for United, but in stark contrast Chelsea missed all three of theirs.
Peru international Claudio Pizarro, the normally reliable Frank Lampard and former City star Shaun Wright-Phillips all saw their penalties saved by the outstanding Edwin van der Sar in the United goal.
Lifting the Community Shield would represent the start of an incredibly memorable season for the Red Devils…
4. Manchester United 1-2 Chelsea (League Cup semi-final second leg, January 2005 – Old Trafford, Manchester, England)
There was nothing to choose between the teams two weeks earlier as Chelsea and United played out a goalless draw at Stamford Bridge in the first leg of the League Cup semi-final.
Going into the second leg, United held home advantage against the Blues but failed to make it count as Chelsea won the game 2-1 courtesy of a late Damien Duff goal.
Lampard had given Chelsea the lead on the half hour mark, but United hit back in the second half as Giggs levelled the scores – exquisitely lobbing the ball over Petr Cech’s head.
The game looked set to go to extra-time, but Duff provided the tie-winning moment – crossing a free-kick into the box which eluded everyone and went straight into the goal.
There was no way back for United against a team who only conceded 15 goals in the whole of the 2004/05 season.
Following their impressive win at Old Trafford, Chelsea would progress to play in the last League Cup final held at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff where they would beat Liverpool in dramatic fashion as Mourinho lifted his first piece of silverware as Chelsea boss.
3. Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United – AET (FA Cup Final, May 2007 – Wembley Stadium, London, England)
A repeat of this year’s final. The first FA Cup final to be held at the new Wembley looked to be an intriguing clash between the Premier League’s top two of 2006/07.
Sir Alex Ferguson lifted the Premier League trophy for the ninth time a week earlier, but a week later Mourinho denied the Scot his fourth domestic double as United manager.
A game that promised so much was a dull affair. With nothing to choose between the teams over 90 minutes, the game went into extra time.
United had a chance to win the game in the second period, but Giggs couldn’t bundle the ball over the line.
Seven minutes later, though, Drogba did in emphatic fashion. The Ivorian had a habit of coming alive in the big games for Chelsea, particularly cup finals.
The FA Cup final of 2007 was one of these games, as Drogba netted the winner four minutes before the end of extra-time to hand Chelsea their first FA Cup for seven years, and in doing so inflict defeat upon United who lost their second FA Cup final in the space of three years.
2. Manchester United 2-1 Chelsea (Premier League, May 2011 – Old Trafford, Manchester, England)
After spending several months behind United in the Premier League table, Chelsea had managed to close the gap at the top to just three points with three games to play – their first of which was a trip to Old Trafford.
Going into the game, Chelsea were three points behind their title rivals and level on goal difference. If Chelsea beat United at Old Trafford as they did a year earlier, they would be in pole position to retain their Premier League crown with two games still left to play – it would have set up a grandstand finish.
United had other ideas. A dominant first half display from the Red Devils meant United strangled Chelsea to get the upper hand all over the pitch.
Chicharito put United 1-0 up after 36 seconds, and midway through the second half Nemanja Vidić doubled the home side’s lead with a towering header.
Giggs, 37 at the time, ran the show and was the game’s outstanding player – providing both assists for United’s goals.
Lampard pulled one back in the second half, but it wasn’t enough for Chelsea. Defeat at Old Trafford meant that the West Londoners were on the verge of a runners-up spot, which was confirmed a week later when United earned the point they needed at Ewood Park to seal an unprecedented 19th English top-flight title.
1. Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea – AET (UEFA Champions League Final, May 2008 – Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, Russia)
How could we forget this one? The biggest game ever between two English sides took place in May 2008 as England’s top two teams of the past three years faced off in the first ever all-English European final.
United started the first half well in the Russian rain, and 25 minutes in they took the lead thanks to a bullet header from the mercurial Cristiano Ronaldo – his 42nd of a blockbuster 2007/08 campaign for the Portuguese forward.
The Red Devils had chances to go two up but failed to capitalise, and they were made to pay on the stroke of half time as Lampard capitalised to score his 20th of the season.
The game went into extra-time after a goalless second half, and in extra-time both sides came agonisingly close as Giggs’ effort was cleared off the line by John Terry and Drogba rattled the upright for Chelsea.
Towards the end of extra-time, Drogba was given a red card which changed the destiny and probably the result of the penalty shoot-out.
He was meant to take the fifth penalty, but instead duties were handed to skipper Terry who missed the critical kick to win Chelsea their first European Cup.
Anderson scored the next penalty for United, before Drogba’s fellow Ivorian striker Salomon Kalou scored for Chelsea.
The ever-green talent of Giggs, though, scored his penalty and put the ball in United’s court, leaving it up to Van der Sar to make the tournament-winning save.
Just as the Dutch goalkeeping legend was the hero in United’s first game of the season against Chelsea in 2007/08 in London (see number 5), he was the hero in the last game in Moscow as he saved from Nicolas Anelka to win United their third European Cup.