Preview: Jose Mourinho gunning for revenge; eleven matches without a win over Chelsea!


Chelsea v Manchester United

Stamford Bridge, London

Emirates FA Cup 2016/17

Monday 13th March 2017; KO 19:45 GMT

Live on BBC One HD

Manchester United march into the Emirates FA Cup quarter-finals having to face Premier League leaders Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Monday evening. The last time both teams met was back in October with Antonio Conte’s side romping to a 4-0 victory with United seemingly shell-shocked that the once fallen champions of the Premier League had recovered, not that it is hard to when players stop playing for a manager to see him sail through the doors. Chelsea are a team that everyone wants to beat this season, but only a few have actually done that; Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League and West Ham United in the EFL Cup. United will be looking to follow what four teams have done this season, beat Chelsea. Only Liverpool have left Stamford Bridge with a victory this season, which is what the tough part will be for United, who visit Jose Mourinho’s former home for the second time this season, hopefully, a good memory to overcome the bad one earlier in the season.

On Thursday evening, United face FC Rostov in the round of 16 of the UEFA Europa League, drawing 1-1 in Russia – which was not the best result, but it is certainly one to take back to Old Trafford this coming Thursday, just three days after the match with Chelsea. United still sit sixth in the Premier League, failing to raise their game and improve their position, but there is still a chance to get back into the top five, however slim it may actually be. United will be aiming to head into next weekend still being in two cup competitions this season; the Emirates FA Cup and the UEFA Europa League. There is a very big chance that the Red Devils season could effectively be over in a weeks time, meaning the only thing to play for will be the Premier League, something United could still win, mathematically at least, but not a likely outcome. By winning the EFL Cup last month, United have already qualified for the Europa League next season, albeit from the qualification stages.

The UEFA Champions League is what United need, though. Missing out again will be costly for the club. Revenue will fall in terms of sponsorship as the Adidas kit deal will see United losing about 30%, which will also see players take a pay cut, which in turn could see some unhappy players in the dressing room, but that would be on them, nobody else. United missing out on the Champions League again will be just another factor that has seen United dwindle in stature over the last three years from the moment Sir Alex Ferguson retired. Jose Mourinho has moved United on leaps and bounds this season, playing 17 Premier League matches unbeaten since the 4-0 loss to Chelsea in October – losing only six matches this season in total, which has seen more draws that many wanted, but improvement is there to be seen, perhaps not to what many will have expected. The thing is, rebuilding has begun and things are beginning to happen.

Marouane Fellaini, a player seemingly not first choice for Louis van Gaal, or even Mourinho, has seen himself rise to the occasion at times this season. He’s also seen himself fall a few times too, giving away a late penalty away to Everton, turning a victory into a late draw. Fellaini, one of the players who helped control the game away to Rostov on Thursday night spoke about wanting to beat Chelsea on Monday evening. Reported by The Mirror, the Belgian said:

“They’re top of the league, they have confidence, they have great players, but we’ll show our quality there and see what happens. It’ll be a tough game. Obviously we lost there a few months ago, but now it’s the FA Cup and we’ll see what happens. It’ll be tight, I think. It’s the FA Cup, it’s one game. Of course they’re confident, so let’s go there and see what we can do.”

Daley Blind, who played at left-back in Russia with United testing five at the back, also spoke of the mood in the Manchester United camp ahead of the trip to Stamford Bridge. Speaking to the official Manchester United website, the Dutchman said:

“We’re looking forward to it. That’s why we wanted to be in every competition, to play lots of games against good opponents and now Chelsea are next. We have to face them and give them everything we’ve got. Of course it will help [to have 6,000 fans with us]. We have a very big squad – we have to fight for every game. We’re fit enough and everybody’s ready, so let’s go.”

Match Officials:

Michael Oliver will referee Monday evening’s match, the only referee at this moment in time who can hold his head high for the decisions and control he has had during the matches he has been in charge of. Stuart Burt and Jake Collin are the assistant referees with Michael Jones being the fourth official. In their last domestic match, United had Kevin Friend as the referee. He will be under the microscope this weekend, as well as Anthony Taylor, who both made errors last weekend. Friend failed to send off both Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Tyrone Mings, both saw retrospective action take against them this week. Taylor gave a penalty to Burnley after their own Sam Vokes handled in the area. Friend will be the fourth official in the FA Cup match between Middlesbrough and Manchester City, whereas Taylor will referee the match between Arsenal and Lincoln City

Form: Manchester United and Chelsea both unbeaten in their last ten matches in all competitions

Manchester United DDWWW: United have done well this season, but still seem to be firing below par, especially when you compare the current season to any of those under Sir Alex Ferguson during United’s domination of domestic football and their rise on the European stage. United have not been defeated in the Premier League since that 4-0 thrashing from Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in October. In total, six matches have been lost this season in all competitions, the last to Hull City in the semi-final second leg of the EFL Cup, which United in effect won on aggregate. Draws have been a problem, United last two matches resulted in 1-1 draws at home to Bournemouth and away to Rostov. Winning matches is what United needs to accomplish for the remainder of the season, especially against both Chelsea and Rostov, the next two matches, which will keep United in both cup competitions for another round, and another trip to Wembley being on the cards.

Chelsea WWWDW: Antonio Conte’s Chelsea turned themselves around this season from last. Jose Mourinho was sacked in December 2015 after Chelsea were close to relegation. This season, the London club started well, winning the majority of the time, suffering just four defeats this season. Three of those have been in the league to Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur; one of those (Liverpool) being at Stamford Bridge. The fourth defeat came in the EFL Cup at the hands of West Ham United back in October. Chelsea is the team that is hotly tipped to win the league this season, sitting ten points clear of Tottenham Hotspur, who are in second place, 17 points clear of Mourinho’s United. The FA Cup could well be Chelsea’s this season if United are unable to knock them out of the competition. Conte is reportedly being offered an extension to his Chelsea contract, despite only taking charge of the team in the summer.

Who are the Manchester United and Chelsea Top Scorers in the Emirates FA Cup 2016/17?

Manchester United: 3 – Marcus Rashford, 1 – Marouane Fellaini, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Anthony Martial, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Wayne Rooney, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Chris Smalling

Chelsea: 4 – Pedro, 2 – Michy Batshuayi, Willian, 1 – Diego Costa, Branislav Ivanovic

Team News: Zlatan Ibrahimovic suspended, Bastian Schweinsteiger injured; Chelsea fully fit

Zlatan Ibrahimovic will miss the match against Chelsea, which will be the first of three domestic matches he misses after facing retrospective action for a deliberate elbow to the face of Tyrone Mings of Bournemouth, who incidentally was suspended for five domestic matches for stamping deliberately on Ibrahimovic in the 1-1 draw at Old Trafford a week ago. Bastian Schweinsteiger has missed the last two matches against Bournemouth and Rostov with a muscular injury, which keeps him on the sidelines against Chelsea. I do not think he would have played a part in the match anyway. Chelsea finds themselves in a good position by being clear of injuries heading into the clash with United and have no players who are currently suspended. Any removals from either team, other than Ibrahimovic and Schweinsteiger for United, will be tactical from both managers.

FA Cup Run: How have Manchester United and Chelsea fared in the FA Cup this season?

Manchester United: Jose Mourinho’s men were drawn against Reading at Old Trafford in the third round of the Emirates FA Cup this season, winning 4-0 with goals from Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial and a brace from Marcus Rashford. United drew Warren Joyce’s Wigan Athletic in the fourth round, again at Old Trafford, winning 4-0 again with goals from Marouane Fellaini, Chris Smalling, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Bastian Schweinsteiger. In the fifth round, United then drew Blackburn Rovers away from home, conceding their only goal in the FA Cup so far this season, but winning 2-1. Marcus Rashford scored his third goal in the cup this season, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic scoring his first. United have scored ten goals in the FA Cup this season, conceding just one.

Chelsea: Antonio Conte’s side were drawn against Peterborough United in the third round of the competition, winning 4-1 away from home with a brace from Pedro and one apiece from Michy Batshuayi and Willian. In the fourth round, Chelsea got Brentford, this time at home. The home side won 4-0 with goals from Willian, Pedro, Branislav Ivanovic (who has now left the club) and Batshuayi. Wolverhampton Wanderers were Chelsea’s opposition in the fifth round, the side who knocked Liverpool out of the competition this season, away. Chelsea won 2-0 with goals from Pedro and Diego Costa. Monday marks a second Emirates FA Cup match at Stamford Bridge this season. Ten goals have been scored by Chelsea in the FA Cup this season, conceding only one, the same as United.

Previous Meetings: Eleven matches without a victory over Chelsea should be motivational

Manchester United and Chelsea have played 175 matches since the 25th December 1905. United have won the majority of those (75), drawing 49 and losing 51. United last beat Chelsea on the 28th October 2012, winning 3-2 at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League. Since then, the eleven matches that have been played have resulted in six defeats and five draws, which is not good enough when you take into account what fixtures like this are worth in the modern day, especially with Chelsea running in a dominant position in the league, and based on results between the two clubs. United have always struggled at Stamford Bridge, which will probably go against them, as it always does. Between the 6th April 2011 and 28th October 2012, United went six games unbeaten, winning five and drawing once with Chelsea, three of those at Stamford Bridge (two wins and a draw). That is the best form United have been in against Chelsea recently. Perhaps that could be used as inspiration for Monday night’s match.

Starting XI Prediction: Who is going to start against Chelsea?

Predicted Score:

Chelsea 1-2 Manchester United

I am not expecting a Manchester United victory at Stamford Bridge, but with it being close to five years since the last victory there, and the fact United have not beaten Chelsea in any of their last eleven matches, a win is due to Jose Mourinho’s side, especially after their 4-0 capitulation in the Premier League back in October. Stranger things have happened this season and Chelsea have been beaten by Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, and West Ham United this season, so it shows it can be done. Other teams such as Burnley, Liverpool (again) and Swansea City have frustrated Chelsea by drawing against them 1-1, 1-1 and 2-2 respectively, which I am sure was not what Conte and his team were hoping for, so if United get their tactics and formation right, it could well work in their favour. United tried a five at the back formation against Rostov in the Europa League on Thursday, counteracting a similar formation the Russian side played with. This could have been Mourinho tinkering with his formation ahead of the Chelsea match, looking for a way to beat Conte’s runaway Premier League leaders.

Written by Mike Wilson

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