After a busy Saturday in the Premier League for both Manchester United and Chelsea, the two teams meet for their FA Cup replay on Easter Monday.
The Barclays Premier League title is certainly in Fergie’s sights, and as a result of defeat in Europe another league and cup double is on the cards for the Reds. However with difficulty in the Premier League, Benitez is determined to end his interim spell in charge of Chelsea with something to show for his efforts. Along with the fact the winners of the replay will go on to a trip to Wembley where Manchester City await makes the game even more of a must-win for both sides.
The pair last met back on March 10th at the Theatre of Dreams where the game ended 2-2. The two sides couldn’t be separated during their initial meeting where the first half was dominated by the Reds and featured two early goals from Chicharito and Rooney. However this was answered by two goals from Hazard and Ramires as Chelsea played a strong second half which earned the replay. If their last meeting was anything to go by, it is clear that both teams are desperate to get their hands on this particular piece of silverware.
Over the weekend Manchester United secured a 1-0 win over Sunderland which ensured that Fergie’s team maintained their fifteen point lead over noisy neighbours Manchester City. With a Premier League victory this season more than likely for the Reds, they now look to the FA Cup. United are the most successful side in the history of the competition, having lifted the trophy eleven times. However their last win was back in the 2003/04 season, which if anything makes Fergie’s side even more determined to defend their record in the competition.
The Scotsman rested various key players on Saturday, therefore the likes of Ferdinand, Rooney, Evra and Giggs could feature in the Red’s starting XI. Also due to Rafael’s groin injury on Saturday, Jones may return to the side at right-back. One player who may feature is Chicharito who has an impressive record against the Blues. The Mexican has struck in five of his last seven games against Chelsea in all competitions. Despite a knock during the game at the Stadium of Light, it is likely that De Gea will start tomorrow as he has now achieved six straight clean with the Reds. However, with no return date set, Rafael looks sure to miss out in the replay.
Interim manager Benitez made seven changes to the side that was defeated by Southampton in a 2-1 loss. And with five games in the next thirteen days, including a Europa League fixture against Rubin Kazan later in the week, it is likely that the Spaniard will be making several more changes for the replay. Therefore, after missing Saturday’s defeat Hazard, Cole, Luiz and Ba could return for this must-win game for the Blues. Chelsea currently find themselves in fourth place in the Premier League and may have to embark on a battle between Tottenham and Arsenal for the final two Champions League qualification positions. Therefore, being the current holders of the FA Cup, reclaiming it will certainly bring some joy to fans after what can only be described as a disappointing season for the current champions of Europe.
The Blues are suffering from four injuries, one of the most notable being Cahill (knee) who may face a late fitness test but is still doubtful. Mata who was suffering from illness along with Ramires (hip/thigh) missed Chelsea’s defeat at St. Mary’s but could both feature tomorrow. Romeu however is still out with a knee injury and won’t be fit until June.
Phil Dowd will be the man in charge of United’s replay. Fans will have last seen Dowd earlier in the year during the Reds 1-0 win over West Ham. Part of the ‘Select Group Referees’ since 2001, the Staffordshire based referee has taken charge of various notable matches such as the finals of the FA Cup and Football League Cup.
- These Premier League giants have met 166 times competitively; Manchester United have won 72, Chelsea 45 and 49 have been drawn.
- This is only the second time out of the 11 when these clubs have drawn each other in the FA Cup, that the tie has not been settled at the first time of asking.
- 18 goals have been scored in the three meetings between the sides this season.
- The Reds are looking for a 21st win from 28 FA Cup rounds against Premier League sides, since lifting the silverware nine years ago.