FA Cup preview: Man United vs Chelsea - Team news and probable lineups
Premier League leaders Manchester United face 2012 UEFA Champions League winners Chelsea in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup at Old Trafford on Sunday, with both sides looking to bounce back from their midweek European defeats.
The Reds were knocked out of the Champions League in controversial circumstances by Real Madrid but remain in imperious form domestically and are unbeaten since the 1-0 defeat at Norwich in November. The Blues, on the other hand, were beaten in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League tie with Steaua Bucharest in Romania but have been in good form overall.
Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed in his pre-match press conference on Friday that Wayne Rooney will be involved on Sunday after being left out of the starting XI against Real Madrid. Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans and Shinji Kagawa were all left out alongside Rooney on Tuesday and could be back into the reckoning for a place in the starting XI. Phil Jones (ankle) and Paul Scholes (knee) have both been ruled out, while Ryan Giggs will be rested after playing 90 minutes in the midweek and Darren Fletcher (illness) is out for the rest of the season.
Juan Mata and Ashley Cole were on the bench against Steaua Bucharest on Thursday, while Demba Ba was ineligible and Ramires did not travel to Romania, but all of them are expected to start against Manchester United on Sunday. John Terry, who started is the midweek, could be rested with Gary Cahill coming in to partner David Luiz in defence. There are no other injury worries for Rafael Benitez as Oriol Rome (knee) remains the only long-term absentee.
Manchester United (4-2-3-1): David De Gea; Rafael, Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans, Patrice Evra; Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley; Antonio Valencia, Wayne Rooney, Shinji Kagawa; Javier Hernandez.
David De Gea will return in goal after a tough night against Real Madrid and will hope to keep the goals out against a relatively weaker Chelsea attack. Jonny Evans is expected to replace Rio Ferdinand at centre-back and Chris Smalling may start alongside him, having started all of United’s FA Cup matches this season. Rafael will start at right-back, while Patrice Evra will take up his usual position on the left of the defence. Michael Carrick and Tom Cleverley are expected to keep their places in central midfield, while Shinji Kagawa could start on the left, after being dropped for the big game in the midweek, with Antonio Valencia on the opposite wing. Wayne Rooney will start behind the main striker in his usual second striker role, while Robin van Persie, who has scored just once in his last ten games in all competitions, could be rested in favour of Javier Hernandez.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Petr Cech; Cesar Azpilicueta, Gary Cahill, David Luiz, Ashley Cole; John Obi Mikel, Frank Lampard; Ramires, Juan Mata, Eden Hazard; Demba Ba.
Petr Cech, as always, will start in goal again and he is likely to be shielded by Gary Cahill and David Luiz in the heart of the Chelsea defence. Cesar Azpilicueta, who didn’t feature against Steaua Bucharest in the midweek, could start at right-back in place of Branislav Ivanovic, while Ashley Cole will man the left-back position. John Obi Mikel could play alongside Frank Lampard in central midfield, with Juan Mata likely to start in attacking midfield after featuring from the bench in Romania. Ramires, who didn’t travel at all, is expected to start on the right wing with Oscar likely to be benched, while Eden Hazard will take up his usual left winger’s role. After yet another disappointing performance from Fernando Torres who has now scored just twice in his last 18 games, Rafael Benitez is likely to prefer Demba Ba as the lone striker on Sunday.