Following Tuesday’s hugely disappointing exit from the European Cup, Manchester United now have to fully focus their attention on the two remaining titles within their grasp, the Premier League and secondly the FA Cup. Next in line are Chelsea as the big games keep on coming for Manchester United. Can they beat Chelsea? Betting giant bwin have all the odds, why not bet on the game?
Sir Alex Ferguson’s men will have more than a statement to make following the controversial manner in which they crashed out of Europe this week and you fear for Chelsea that they may well be set to walk straight into a Manchester United side fired up by injustice when the two sides meet this Sunday at Old Trafford in an FA Cup quarter final.
Chelsea similarly will feel they have a point to prove following their disappointing week in Europe with the current Champions League holders going down 1-0 to a hardworking, impressive Steaua Bucharest side in Romania however with Benitez still in charge at Chelsea it is going to be anything but a game which Chelsea supporters are looking towards with a great deal of expectation and hope with many expecting Rafa Benitez’s tumultuous reign as Interim Manager at Chelsea to come to an end should the Blues fall to a defeat on Sunday.
Manchester United in fairness haven’t really had to exit 2nd gear in their FA Cup campaign thus far this season with the exception possibly being at Upton Park where it took a late, late Robin Van Persie equaliser to send the tie to a replay, since then there have been routine wins over West Ham at Old Trafford, Fulham and latterly Reading with Nani particularly impressing in that fixture.
The same can be said for Chelsea with Benitez’s men recording a comfortable 5-1 away victory at Southampton before having to get past rivals Brentford via a replay at Stamford Bridge before comfortably beating Middlesbrough at the Riverside 2-0 although that night will be remembered not for the result but for Rafa’s outburst. Chelsea seem to be on an ever deepening ascent from the moment Di Matteo was removed from his job by Roman Abramovich following a defeat to Juventus in Turin earlier this season and now it seems the Europa League or FA Cup is Chelsea’s only realistic chance of silverware following a season that had promised much more.
Manchester United will more than likely welcome Wayne Rooney back into the starting line-up after the tactical decision to axe the former Everton man midweek against Madrid (could Rooney leave?), Javier Hernandez after having played no part on Tuesday evening is expected to return to the starting line-up. Sir Alex in his weekly press conference this morning confirmed that Sunday’s fixture against Chelsea is coming just too soon for Phil Jones “Phil won’t be ready for Sunday but he’ll be ready for the following week” and as such we may see a return to the side for Chris Smalling with Rafael da Silva potentially being rested after the shift he put in against Cristiano Ronaldo midweek. Sir Alex also confirmed to the media that following his excellent display against Real Madrid, veteran Ryan Giggs will play no part in Sunday’s tie against Chelsea with the boss citing “knowing how to look after him” as the reason for giving the Welshman a rest.
Chelsea will welcome Demba Ba back into the starting eleven on Sunday with the Senegalese international missing the trip to Bucharest due to being cup-tied. Juan Mata was given a partial rest yesterday evening against Steaua with the Spaniard coming off the bench after sixty-four minutes of play and it is widely expected that he will return to the Chelsea team on Sunday. Ashley Cole was an unused substitute in Europe and will return to his position of left back at Old Trafford on Sunday.
- Manchester United faced Chelsea at Old Trafford in exactly the same round of the FA Cup in the 1998-1999 treble winning season with the game finishing 0-0 and going to a replay at Stamford Bridge three days later which United won 2-0.
- Manchester United haven’t won the FA Cup in the past eight seasons excluding this current campaign, in that time Chelsea have claimed the trophy a staggering four times.
- Chelsea have appeared in six FA Cup finals since the turn of the Millennium, Manchester United have appeared in three.
- Interim Chelsea Manager Rafael Benitez has only managed to reach the FA Cup final once in his career, in this solitary final his Liverpool side defeated West Ham United 3-1 on penalties to claim the Merseysiders seventh FA Cup.
After a sublime hat trick against Norwich City last weekend Kagawa will have no doubt found himself disappointed to be left on the substitutes bench for the visit of Real Madrid, however I believe this decision was made on the evidence seen in the first leg at the Bernabeu where Kagawa struggled to get into the game with the pace and regularity of Real Madrid’s pressing game forcing him into numerous errors on the ball.
Sunday’s game will be far more suited to Kagawa with United playing at home against a Chelsea side which in using a 4-2-3-1 formation can often be found wanting at the back, if Kagawa can position himself like against Norwich just in the hole between midfield and the forwards it could be a very profitable avenue for United to work in on Sunday.
With the Japanese international having seemingly shaken off the injuries that have somewhat plagued his début season at Old Trafford it seems as though fans are seeing what is close to the best of the former Dortmund man and Chelsea’s at times somewhat erratic defensive line will have to avoid pushing up too far as Kagawa would punish them in very much the same manner Scott Parker and Gylfi Sigurdsson did to Arsenal in last weekend’s North London derby, with their clever reverse passes splitting the Gunners’ flatfooted less than athletic defence for both Spurs goals.
There is sizeable emphasis put on solid defending with trust being put in the more attacking players to make the most of the chances when they come along and there is no doubt Juan Mata will do that on Sunday. Mata also being a dead ball specialist could bring David De Gea into action should United as they have done at times this season give away any sloppy free kicks in and around their own penalty area.
With Demba Ba being preferred as the lone striker since his mid-season move to Chelsea it is expected Mata will play in the central position of the attacking midfield, just behind Ba with Hazard and Oscar being given the responsibility of creating chances from wider areas, almost like inside forwards replicating the way Ronaldinho and Ludovic Giuly played for Frank Rijkaard’s earliest Barcelona side.
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Chicarito to score 1st: £120
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Chelsea leading HT but United win FT: £460
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