Manchester United - Chelsea Preview: Both sides looking to bounce back from European defeats
The Red Devils will be out for blood after their controversial Champions League exit, while the Blues go to Old Trafford having not scored an FA Cup goal at the ground since 1963
By Ewan Roberts
Sir Alex Ferguson is likely to make a number of changes to the side that lost to Real Madrid on Tuesday, with Wayne Rooney – surprisingly dropped against Los Blancos – expected to come back into the starting XI.
Chris Smalling has started all of Manchester United’s FA Cup matches this campaign, and could partner Jonny Evans in the centre of defence. Antonio Valencia, Anderson and, hat-trick hero against Norwich, Shinji Kagawa should also all return to the side.
Phil Jones (ankle) remains sidelined, while Paul Scholes (knee) is a doubt for the match. Midfield enforcer Darren Fletcher (illness) is out for the remainder of the season.
Rafa Benitez left Juan Mata on the bench in the Europa League last 16 match against Steaua Bucharest on Thursday, while Demba Ba was ineligible, but both are expected to start against United.
Chelsea’s only injury worry is Oriol Romeu (knee), a long-term absentee, while Ashley Cole could return to the side after being rested in Romania.
Club captain John Terry has started all of the Blues’ FA Cup ties since returning to full fitness and chould partner Gary Cahill, another player rested against Steaua, with David Luiz and Branislav Ivanovic dropping to the bench.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Manchester United’s Champions League defeat against Real Madrid on Tuesday night ended a run of 18 games without defeat in all competitions.
- The Red Devils have scored at least three goals in each of their last four meetings against Chelsea in all competitions, while 14 goals were been scored in the two meetings between the sides this season.
- Chicharito (pictured right) enjoys playing against Chelsea, the Mexican striker has struck in five of his last six games against the Blues in all competitions. He is 4/1 to score the first goal in the game with bet365.
- Robin van Persie has scored just one goal in eight games, and has not found the back of the net in his last five matches; but the Dutchman has bagged four goals in his last three appearances against Sunday’s opponents.
- Chelsea have been inconsistent in 2013, winning just eight of their 18 matches in all competitions since the turn of the year, losing five times and conceding over a goal a game.
- The west London club initially enjoyed rich form on their travels under Rafa Benitez, but have lost two and drawn one of their last three league away fixtures, and suffered defeat in Romania against Steaua Bucharest.
- Blues defender Ashley Cole has won the FA Cup more times than any other player, lifting the famous trophy an astonishing seven times.
- Chelsea have travelled to Old Trafford five times in the FA Cup, but have never won; the Blues have lost four of those encounters, and scored just one goal – a 70th minute consolation strike by Dennis Sorrell in March 1963.
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Top 3 Predictions
Man Utd. 3-1 Chelsea FC
- 17.98 %
Man Utd. 1-2 Chelsea FC
- 14.51 %
Man Utd. 2-1 Chelsea FC
- 12.77 %
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Aug 26, 2013||Man Utd. 0 - Chelsea FC 0|
|England - Premier League (EPL)||May 5, 2013||Man Utd. 0 - Chelsea FC 1|
|England - FA Cup (FA)||Apr 1, 2013||Chelsea FC 1 - Man Utd. 0|
|England - FA Cup (FA)||Mar 10, 2013||Man Utd. 2 - Chelsea FC 2|
|England - Capital One Cup(League Cup) (CCUP)||Oct 31, 2012||Chelsea FC 5 - Man Utd. 4|
|Dec 7, 2013||Man Utd. 0 - Newcastle 1||EPL|
|Dec 4, 2013||Man Utd. 0 - Everton 1||EPL|
|Dec 1, 2013||Tottenham 2 - Man Utd. 2||EPL|
|Nov 27, 2013||Bayer 04 Leverkusen 0 - Man Utd. 5||UCL|
|Nov 24, 2013||Cardiff City 2 - Man Utd. 2||EPL|
|1||David de Gea||Goalkeeper|
|14||Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez||Striker|
|20||Robin van Persie||Striker|
|12||John Obi Mikel||Midfielder|
All eyes will be on the 27-year-old after his omission against Real Madrid in the Champions League on Tuesday night. The former Everton striker will be eager to prove his worth and bounce back from the disappointment of being dropped for such a crucial tie. Rooney has been in reasonably good form since the turn of the year, scoring or assisting in eight of the last ten games he has started, and bagged a goal and two assists against Norwich last Saturday.
The Spanish playmaker has taken to the FA Cup like a duck to water, notching a hugely impressive five goals and seven assists in just 10 appearances in the storied competition. The 24-year-old has been Chelsea’s stand-out player this season; no player has scored or assisted more goals for the Blues this year in all competitions, while the side look unimaginative and laboured without his eager, inventive presence on the pitch. If Chelsea are to win, Mata will need to be at his best.
Manchester United have an excellent record at home this year, losing just once in the league, while Chelsea have struggled on previous FA Cup visits to Old Trafford. The Red Devils will be itching to make amends for their Champions League exit, while Chelsea’s congested fixture list is beginning to take its toll on a small squad. The Blues’ defence will struggle to contain a vengeful, firepower-packed United team.
Times In GMT
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed