5 key player battles that will decide Manchester United vs Chelsea
As the Premier League has come to a close, with Manchester City deservedly crowned as champions, the FA Cup Final provides us with one last domestic highlight before we head into the Champions League Final and the World Cup.
In what promises to be an exciting match, Manchester United and Chelsea are hoping to end their respective seasons on a high by winning the most prestigious cup competition in Europe.
Both teams will come to Wembley after league campaigns, that left a lot to be desired. While the Red Devils failed to challenge their local rivals, finishing second by a record margin of 19 points, the Blues couldn't even qualify for the Champions League.
The poor league campaigns, coupled with early Champions League exits, have made the FA Cup Final even more important for the clubs, forcing them to field their strongest available sides in their pursuit of silverware.
With some of the best players in England facing off tonight, we take a look at the five key battles, that will determine who will lift the FA Cup at Wembley.
#5 Giroud vs Smalling
With Alvaro Morata likely to be sat on the bench this evening, Olivier Giroud is set to be Chelsea's main man up front. The Frenchman has already won the FA Cup three times with Arsenal and is eager to add a fourth with the Blues.
On his day, the striker can be extremely tough to deal with and it will be Smalling's main task to ensure, that it is not going to be his day. The defender will be looking to prove England manager Gareth Southgate wrong in not selecting him for the World Cup in Russia.
With both players built similarly, we can expect a physical encounter between two players who are auditioning for a spot in their managers' plans for next season. Both players have faced a lot of criticism in the past and losing this battle could spell the end of their first-team hopes.
The FA Cup final is the perfect stage for Smalling and Giroud to show their quality, and the winner of this battle could have a huge impact on his side's chances of being successful at Wembley.