Wayne Rooney v Chelsea

Preview: Chelsea v United

Just 48 hours on from a laboured victory over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, Sir Alex Ferguson’s side hits the road once again on Monday. The Scot flew his Manchester United team home from the north east at the weekend, seeking any possible advantage ahead of United’s FA Cup quarter-final replay with Chelsea on Easter Monday. And while Monday’s match is another away from Old Trafford for United’s weary players, it is one with a significant carrot: victory brings a semi against rivals Manchester City at Wembley.

United took another huge step towards reclaiming the Premier League title at the weekend by securing three points against relegation threatened Sunderland. Ferguson can hardly have been impressed with his side’s efforts though; the third match in succession that the Reds achieved just enough, but little more.

That short run of mediocre form includes the opening cup match between these sides – a 2-2 draw in which Ferguson’s side was left hanging on for a draw just days after defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League. Indeed, United’s break against Chelsea at Old Trafford came amid a strong finish from the Londoners, while Ferguson’s players appeared spent by the tie’s end.

The contrasting fortunes of the sides in recent weeks sets up Monday’s Cup clash; a battle that will go some way to define two campaigns.

“I thought we were lucky to be honest with you,” said Sir Alex of the first quarter-final clash between the sides.

“I thought that tiredness had got into the team and, from a comfortable position for the first 20 minutes, you could see the signs when we started to give the ball away just before half-time. That is a definite sign of tiredness.

“The tiredness came, possibly, from the emotional intensity of the Real Madrid game and also the way we lost it. In the second half in particular there was no doubt that Tom Cleverley’s and our two full-backs’ legs had gone. That made it a long game against Chelsea and they had the advantage of extra players in midfield.”

Two days after each side played in the Premier League, the respective stamina of these squads will once again be tested, with Ferguson likely to make wholesale changes at Stamford Bridge. He has little choice given United’s leg-weariness in recent matches.

Chelsea v Manchester United - FA Cup, Stamford Bridge - 12.30pm, 1 April 2013Ferguson could bring in eight or more new players, with Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Nani, Javier Hernández and Tom Cleverley coming back into the side against Rafa Benitez’ outfit. Defenders Patrice Evra and Rio Ferdinand should also return after being rested against Sunderland.

Meanwhile, the Spaniard will again make changes to the side that lost at St Mary’s having rotated his squad heavily against Southampton on Saturday. Indeed, accusations that Benitez put his own vanity – a potential Cup win – over the club’s need for Champions League football next season weigh heavily on the temporary manager. After all, the former Liverpool manager has no chance of taking the role full time.

There is some good news for Benitez though, with Juan Mata returning to the Blues’ side after recovering from illness, although Gary Cahill is rated doubtful for the lunchtime clash.

Still, the home side has looked fresher in recent weeks, with Champions League football seemingly secure until Saturday’s defeat and the Europa League offering none of it’s bigger brother’s intensity. Defeat to Southampton may change the picture domestically at least, although in the short term it is United that must also overcome the disadvantage of both fatigue and injuries.

“We picked up two or three injuries, which doesn’t help,” said Ferguson after the Reds’ weekend victory.

“It was all down to the courage of the players that they got through it. Rafael got injured and Jonny Evans got a bit of a knock but carried on. That was great because we couldn’t afford to take him off. He said he’d last as long as he could but he got through it.

“I thought we’d lost David De Gea for a moment. He was out for a few minutes but recovered and played a really great part for us. Generally, we have a few bumps and bruises but we handled it well.”

With a double to chase this is no time for United’s season to wind down of course, although Ferguson’s hope of securing a record Premier League points total looks unrealistic on very recent form.

Still, with the Scot’s squad broad, if not truly deep, Ferguson will exploit the full resources on offer. After all, gaving gone 18 league matches without defeat has all but secured the Premier League title.

Should United win, the side will face City twice in a week; first, at Old Trafford in the Premier League next Monday, and then a Cup semi at Wembley on 14 April. Two games that will go a long way to deciding the Reds’ fate this season.

“We want to win the Double and we took a big step in the league,” van Persie told MUTV on Saturday.

“But we want to go for both. Now we have to look ahead to the FA Cup tie against Chelsea. It’s going to be a big test but I’m quite confident we can play well at Stamford Bridge and get a good result.

“It’s been nine years since United have won the FA Cup. It’s important to us. We have a big chance of reaching the semi-final against City. I don’t want to look too far ahead but we have a massive chance of winning the competition.”

With Cup final victory will surely come a first double since 1999 – the moment of Ferguson’s greatest hour. There are three tough matches in the competition before that, however, although with the Reds 15 points clear in the Premier League Ferguson can at least afford to refocus.

First, however, United must achieve a rare first – FA Cup victory at Stamford Bridge.

Match details
Chelsea v Manchester United – FA Cup, Stamford Bridge – 1 April 2013 March 2013, 12.30pm

Possible teams
Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech; Ivanovic, Terry, Luiz, Cole; Mikel, Ramires; Mata, Oscar, Hazard; Torres. Subs from: Turnbull, Azpilicueta, Cahill, Benayoun, Marin, Moses, Ba

United (4-3-3): de Gea; Smalling, Vidić, Ferdinand, Evra; Cleverley, Carrick, Giggs; Nani, Hernández, Rooney. Subs from: Lindegaard, Büttner, Evans, Powell, Young, Scholes, Valencia, Anderson, Kagawa, Welbeck, van Persie

Match officials
Referee: Philip Dowd
Assistant Referees: Peter Kirkup and Andy Garratt
Fourth Official: Neil Swarbrick

Form
Chelsea: WLDWWL
United: WWLDWW

Head to Head
Last 10: Chelsea 2, United 6, Draw 2
Overall: Chelsea 45, United 72, Draw 49

Prediction
1-2

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Comments

  1. Sidsidney says

    If we’re going to win at their place and knock them out of the Cup there will have to be loads of drama and coin throwing and maybe a bit of racism because they can’t just lose without kicking off like some pissed cunt who can’t handle their booze

  2. RedDevilInAz says

    The Fat waiter has put hisself into a situation that if he doesn’t win then the coins could be aimed at him. Putting out a weak team against Southampton would have been OK if it had worked but now he has just piled more pressure the team and he is so popular with the home fans anyway.

  3. sheesh says

    I’m never confident going to Stamford Bog.
    Edit – team news:
    United: De Gea, Smalling, Jones, Rio, Evra, Valencia, Carrick, Cleverley, Nani, Hernandez, Welbeck
    Rooney is not even on the bench.
    Chelsea: Cech, Azpi, Ivanovic, Luiz, Cole; Mikel, Ramires, Hazard, Mata, Oscar, Ba

  4. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    Ferguson showing Rooney up again… promising the fans that he wants to keep him, but forcing him into a corner where he asks to leave… what a cunt…

  5. AnantaxAnantax says

    Fcking Nani is where all attacks go to fucking die or fizzle out….fuck

    Prove me wrong Nani…come on…

  6. Dinkinflicker says

    Clearly it is April Fools Day, because Nani has been a fucking joke so far. I’d actually take him off right now. He’ll cost us a goal today.

  7. sheesh says

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    Ferguson showing Rooney up again… promising the fans that he wants to keep him, but forcing him into a corner where he asks to leave… what a cunt…

    He is injured ffs.

  8. sheesh says

    We should be doing much better in final third.

    We are playing some good football in build up though. Nani has been poor.

  9. AnantaxAnantax says

    Seriously. From the first 35 mins or so I really dont understand why we pay Nani a salary,…

    Again here’s hoping he proves me wrong…

  10. Minus The Bear says

    Good finish by Ba. Can Nani get himself sent off or something. Either that or deliberately stop passing to him.

  11. AnantaxAnantax says

    ltel said:
    nani is either brilliant or pure shite… Valencia is neither …

    Wtf???

    When has he been brilliant in tis game? Bloody hell…

  12. AnantaxAnantax says

    ltel said:
    that would be the pure shite side of things… fucking moron…

    When has he been fucking brilliant this fucking season. Blind moron…

  13. ltel says

    Anantax said:
    When has he been fucking brilliant this fucking season. Blind moron…

    who mentioned a specific period?? electrocute yourself please

  14. Sidsidney says

    We’re shit in front of goal. Could have done with starting Rooney or Van Persie.

    Jones has been good though. Better on the ball than I remembered.

  15. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    Fair enough… beaten by two bits of awesome skill… Bas’ goal and Cechs’ save… game was made for Rooney, and we didn’t have him.

  16. AnantaxAnantax says

    Bloody heck. Several players deserves credit, but some are just horrid…
    Jones was good…DDG looked as assured as ever…Carrick was ok
    nani was horrible horrible…really need to cut losses on him.
    Where the fuck was Hernandez. RVP came on and straight away he had 2 chances. Shouldve buried one of them, so he’s not faultless, but still thats like 2 more chances than the whole game for Hernandez….
    Edit: tbf hernande had that great head er of a chance…but he shouldve buried that one as well…
    giggsy is a legend, but egads his passing was horrible…

  17. Minus The Bear says

    Yeah they did. We got what we deserved with a fairly lack luster performance and ultimately failing to see out a two goal lead in the first match.

  18. RobDiabloRobDiablo says

    Oh yeah, this side is definitely stronger than the side that won the Treble. I can’t wait to see how much better we’ll be next season, when, in response to some serious summer spending at City and Cheatski, Sir Alex buys the central defender, the striker, and the right-footed number ten to play on the left that will make this side unbeatable.

  19. Auntymingefaceforcuntssake says

    Utter dogshit! Bored out of my head watching a piss poor team make shite like Chelsea look good. I keep hearing about our strength in depth but what the fuck does Cleverley ever do for us? Welbeck is a workhorse in two thirds of the field and a donkey in the final third

  20. brianofnazarethbrianofnazareth says

    I’ve been out today, missed the game. Was Nani really THAT bad? I’m starting to give up on the cunt.

    We’re we that shite?

  21. AnantaxAnantax says

    brianofnazareth said:
    I’ve been out today, missed the game. Was Nani really THAT bad? I’m starting to give up on the cunt.

    We’re we that shite?

    Nani was very poor

    But I thought overall we played OK. Alf was right…….in the end we lost to what was a magnificent van-Persiesque goal….

    The main problem was that We just didnt really create enough until the last 10 minutes…

    Wellbeck, Jones, DDG deserve great credit

  22. Bill says

    You can only beat average sides with a 442 or 4411 if they set up 451. We beat city earlier in the season because they mirrored our formation. Mikel holding with Ramires and Oscar central Mata and Hazard wide cutting in meant they won the midfield battle as the game went on. Nani needs to go in the summer and us move in the bigger games to three central midfielders, with 2 wingers and 1 striker or three strikers with Evra or Fabio or Buttner and Da Silva or Valencia bombing on.

  23. sheesh says

    When the season is over and, even if we win the title, I’m sure Fergie will be overwhelmed by a sense of anti-climax.
    We failed to kill off Chelsea in the home game and that has cost us the chance of winning the FA Cup. We were shafted a bit by injuries today and we played OK (Nani excepted) but it shouldn’t have come to a replay in the first place.
    It’s funny (as in strange, not haha funny) that we are so far ahead in the league but what really has cost us from winning anything else has been a lack of ruthlessness or willingness to go for the kill.
    Even against shit teams, as I have said before, we struggle to perform once we go a goal up. Look at our performances vs teams like Reading and Sunderland.
    If we were more prepared to have a proper go at Madrid at Old Trafford, we might have got past them and the referee’s appalling display might not have mattered. I still feel Madrid would have scored irrespective of whether or not Nani was sent off. We gave them too much possession.
    Hopefully, dross like Anderson, Valencia, Young will go… maybe even Nani (too inconsistent). Hopefully, we’ll sign a couple of top class midfielders. Hopefully, hopefully….

  24. Bill says

    Anderson and Nani have had enough chances, both arrived in 2007, both should be shipped out this summer. Young and Valencia deserve more time and are more disciplined professionals. Nani’s replacement has been signed in Zaha, Anderson should be replaced with Strootman, who is already skippering Holland.

  25. marlon says

    I wonder if Fergie sees Jones as a CB. Only played there once this season and that was with Carrick alongside him (so no choice). He’s played four games at RB and four at CM (against Chelsea, Madrid, Tottenham and Everton). Seems Fergie doesn’t trust Cleverley in the big games anymore. Jones has done alright at CM, but it’s not going to work with Carrick. Both are too defensive.

    This season has been a lot like the last. Starts with open attacking football – lots of goals both ways. After Christmas, defence tightens up, goals dry up. Difference is City aren’t there to challenge us this time.

  26. Bill says

    Jones might end up at cb, but at the moment he lacks the discipline, positional sense and calmness under pressure to play cb consistently for utd. His best performances for united have been with Carrick in front of the back four. Bring Strootman in and hopefully Cleverely will lift his game, if not hes definitely good enough for the number 3 of the 3 or cover for the two of Carrick and Strootman.
    In the summer we should pick Zaha, Strootman and that Schlupp who’s played for Ghana been on trial plus can play left back or striker.

  27. sheesh says

    Commenter said:
    Utter dogshit! Bored out of my head watching a piss poor team make shite like Chelsea look good. I keep hearing about our strength in depth but what the fuck does Cleverley ever do for us? Welbeck is a workhorse in two thirds of the field and a donkey in the final third

    Similar things were being said about Tevez IIRC to justify him not scoring enough goals for us. According to Wikipedia, Welbeck has only scored 2 goals in 35 appearances this season. That can’t be right, surely? I know he brings other qualities to the team and he’s played second fiddle to Van Persie but he’s a centre forward first and foremost and 2 goals isn’t good enough.

  28. marlon says

    The emergence of Jones as a viable defensive option at CM in big games is really positive. Means we don’t have to consider bringing in a defensive CM in the summer. Can just concentrate on getting a playmaker.

  29. sheesh says

    marlon said:
    Welbeck has only started two games up front. He’s had 3 at RW, 4 as a 10 and 7 on the left.

    Thanks for the clarification. To be fair, I hadn’t realised how frequently he has been played out of position. I still find it surprising that he has only scored 2 goals. Whenever I watch him he seems to get into good positions in and around the box.
    Even Rafael, Evans and Evra have apparently scored more goals

  30. marlon says

    If he can’t learn how to finish, he’ll spend a lot more time on the wing. Wouldn’t be too worried about it as it happens to a lot of young strikers and we don’t lack depth up front. Outside of set-pieces (which have dried up now van Persie’s form has dipped) Rooney is the only player who can provide a scoring threat while not playing up front, so the problem could be systemic.

    That said, only 4 top 4 teams from the top 4 leagues in Europe have more than 3 players with 5+ league goals at this point and from those, only Dortmund (Lewa-20) have a top scorer with a respectable goal total (other are Juve(8), Chelsea(12) and Bayern(15)). If you look at those 16 teams to see if any players who aren’t strikers or 10s have 10+ goals and assists, the list is pretty short – Vidal Pirlo Hazard Lampard Bale Muller Ribery Reus Blaszczykowski Xavi Fabregas. Last season, Nani, Young and Valencia would all have made that list by now, but we weren’t playing with a no. 10 back then.

    Not really sure what the point of that was…maybe, outside of Germany, no. 10s suck the secondary scoring out of a team?

  31. Damian Garside says

    The press are lamenting that we lost to Chelsea because we ran out of “steam”. But how can we run out of steam when our manager has the most rehot face on the planet — and spews molten lava whenever the press get the slightest bit critica? Beat me!

  32. says

    The manager is giving Welbeck work experience across the frontline. In 2 years he will be ready to lead our line. He has all the tools.

    Nani and Anderson have to really get lost this summer. Strootman and maybe Hamsik should come in. I believe that our manager will get an attacking midfielder this close season. Or, he will play Kagawa more.

    Van Persie has been a proper let down at this business end of the season. His misses in both Madrid ties and the ones from yesterday were just careless. He needs to find his mojo back for the Derby on monday night. Has to!

  33. uncleknobheadffsuncleknobheadffs says

    sidney said:
    We’re shit in front of goal. Could have done with starting Rooney or Van Persie.

    Jones has been good though. Better on the ball than I remembered.

    hes fucking great, i watch him and think hes gonna be a fucking great defender, then i remember hes playing in midfield and cringe

    smalling is also playing fucking great at centre half recently

  34. uncleknobheadffsuncleknobheadffs says

    cals spot on about welbeck

    his play in general is too good to worry about the goals, theyll come, hes got the lot

    hes been the bright spot for the last couple of months

    i bet he scores against city

  35. sheesh says

    How do you figure that? I reckon it will be Rooney and van Persie up front. Rooney will be fine for derby day apparently.

  36. Pikey McScumPikey McScum says

    If Rooney’s fit then he, van Persie and Welbeck will play – it’ll just be a toss-up between Welbeck and Rooney as to who’s on the left

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