It has been a long three weeks filled with Premier League, Europa League and International fixtures since Manchester United and Chelsea played out an engaging cup classic at in their FA Cup Quarter Final tie at Old Trafford. United fatigued from their midweek excursions against Real Madrid and Chelsea quite evidently feeling the effects of their incredibly long season drew 2-2 with Benitez’s Chelsea clawing back a 2 goal half time deficit which many are saying saved Benitez his job as interim head coach. It was incidentally Rafa’s tactical decision to bring John Obi Mikel into the fray that for me changed the outcome of the at the time relatively easy cup tie for United. With Carrick and Cleverley having played a full ninety minutes against Real Madrid with thirty of those minutes being with only 10 men Benitez saw how fatigued United were becoming in midfield with passes going astray and the work rate dropping, Mikel as soon as he was brought on gave Chelsea a sense of urgency and his physicality and quickness put United under real pressure with the Nigerian international getting to every single loose ball as Hazard and Ramires went on to level the tie.
The replay of this quarter final takes place tomorrow on Easter Monday with United having won yet again this weekend in the Premier League whilst Chelsea fell to a 2-1 defeat at St Mary’s. Both teams appear to be feeling the fatigue of a long season competing on multiple fronts both domestically and further afield with Manchester United talisman Robin Van Persie urging supporters not to expect a class in Monday’s game, Premier League fixtures.
[quote]These games are just too close to each other, people have to realise they can’t expect a great game of football because it is not possible.
Robin van Persie[/quote]
Team Prediction via @UtdMancunian
Manchester United look set to welcome Nani back into the starting line-up with the Portuguese international having missed the last three weeks through an injury sustained in the first tie with Chelsea. Nani was on the bench for Manchester United’s trip to Sunderland on Saturday lunchtime and fans will be hoping to see more of the Nani who was impressing both against Real Madrid and Chelsea before having to leave the field prematurely on both occasions. Paul Scholes following a long absence through injury is still a doubt for the visit to Chelsea as is Phil Jones who despite Sir Alex Ferguson’s words on Friday that Jones was nearly back to full fitness, still missed out on the weekend trip to Wearside.
Chelsea rested Ashley Cole, David Luiz and Juan Mata for their trip to Southampton yesterday with more than one eye on the fixture with Manchester United, it is expected all three will return to the starting line-up especially with in recent games Juan Mata performing exceptionally well against Sir Alex Ferguson’s men, particularly at Stamford Bridge. Gary Cahill who also missed out on Saturday through a knee injury is also a doubt from tomorrow’s visit of United however Benitez is hopeful the former Bolton defender will return in time for their Europa League Quarter Final fixture against Rubin Kazan on Thursday evening.
- In 1999 when Manchester United and Chelsea faced off at this stage in the FA Cup, the tie also went to a replay which Manchester United won 2-0.
- The aforementioned fixture at Stamford Bridge in 1999 was the last time Chelsea failed to score a goal in an FA Cup tie at home.
- Manchester United will be looking to end a twenty eight game unbeaten run in the FA Cup currently held by Chelsea. This record does not take into account penalty shootouts.
Javier Hernandez is enjoying somewhat of a purple patch against Chelsea at the moment with the Mexican scoring in six of his last seven appearances against the Blues. With Hernandez having been rested for the trip to Southampton it is expected that both he and Rooney will lead the line against Chelsea on Monday afternoon with Van Persie missing out. If so Chelsea will have to keep Hernandez to the forefront of their focus with the Mexican’s movement having proven to be a real problem for David Luiz in recent fixtures. Chelsea’s usual high defensive line at home will also have to be adapted slightly in order to guard against any late runs from Hernandez with the Mexican having the potential to beat the offside trap even if this does only seldom occur.
With Hazard having appeared against Southampton it is at this time expected that Juan Mata will be the focal point of Chelsea’s creativity in tomorrow’s fixture, with the Spaniard having endured like Hernandez a really positive spell against Manchester United. Mata could have sent Chelsea into the FA Cup Semi Final against Manchester City, in the final moments at Old Trafford only for fellow Spaniard David De Gea to make an outstanding save low to his right hand side. Mata is currently enjoying an excellent season in the Premier League at Chelsea with the former Valencia playmaker having a 78 percent pass completion rate in the final third. It is this high margin of success in the final third which has contributed to Chelsea’s at times, free flowing football and chance creation thus far this season.
£20 Wins You:
Chelsea to win both halves: £155
United to win both halves: £190
Over 2.5 Goals to be scored in game: £100
United to score first: £41
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