FA Cup Preview: Manchester United vs Chelsea
Manchester: 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 enjoys playing against Chelsea, the Mexican striker has struck in five of his last six games against the Blues in all competitions.
Robin van Persie has scored just one goal in eight games, and hasn’t 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.
Probable Starting Line-Ups
Man United: De Gea, Rafael, Smalling, Evans, Evra, Cleverley, Anderson, Valencia, Rooney, Kagawa, Chicharito.
Chelsea: Cech, Azpilicueta, Cahill, Terry, Cole, Lampard, Mikel, Oscar, Mata, Hazard, Ba.