Chelsea vs Manchester United
FA Cup, Sixth Round replay – Monday 1st April, 2013 – 12:30pm KO – Stamford Bridge (41,837)
Rafael Benitez after watching a rotated side crash to defeat at Southampton: “We had to manage the squad. We didn’t have many options in some positions… we had the players we had.”
Manager Rafa Benitez’s decision to rotate his side on Saturday came at a cost: squad freshness, perhaps, but a costly league defeat and further fan unrest. He’s on borrowed time, of course, but an FA cup exit would the final English (fan and media) nail in his proverbial Spanish (managerial) coffin. An FA Cup win is the only way the Spaniard can save any kind of face (domestically) from his time as (interim) Chelsea manager. But, with a Europa League tie coming up this Thursday, Benitez must carefully balance squad freshness and the ability to win the match on the day. Ashley Cole, David Luiz and Eden Hazard will come back into the starting XI after being handed bench duty at the weekend, while Demba Ba will likely replace the perennially misfiring Fernando Torres up front. While Gary Cahill is a doubt, Juan Mata, who missed the Southampton defeat with a virus, should come back into the side.
Predicted Chelsea line-up: Cech, Ivanovic, Luiz, Terry, Cole, Mikel, Oscar, Ramires, Hazard, Mata, Ba
FA Cup form: W W D W W D
FA Cup 2012/13 so far: Southampton 1-5 Chelsea (Third Round), Brentford 2-2 Chelsea (Fourth Round), Chelsea 4-0 Brentford (Fourth Round Replay), Middlesbrough 0-2 Chelsea (Fifth Round), Manchester United 2-2 Chelsea (Sixth Round)
Sir Alex Ferguson on likely changes from the team that started at Sunderland: “We picked up two or three injuries, which doesn’t help. We left some players behind… Wayne Rooney, Chicharito and Ryan Giggs, for example. So we have options for Monday.”
Expect the three players mentioned above to start. Rafael has been ruled out after picking up a groin injury in the win at the Stadium of Light. Jonny Evans carried a knock for the entire second half on Saturday, but with Rio Ferdinand certain to return anyway, his absence should not prove fatal. Patrice Evra will also return after being rested at the weekend. With Nani, Paul Scholes and Phil Jones back in training, any one of the trio could provide freshness to a squad which battled to an important away win only 48 hours previous. The likes of Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck, substitutes at Sunderland, are likely to come into the side.
Predicted United line-up: De Gea, Smalling, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Welbeck, Cleverley, Carrick, Giggs, Rooney, Hernandez
FA Cup record away: P173 W78 D45 L50 F292 A246
FA Cup record vs Chelsea: P11 W8 D1 L2 F21 A8
FA Cup form: L D W W W D
FA Cup 2012/13 so far: West Ham 2-2 United (Third Round), United 1-0 West Ham (Third Round replay), United 4-1 Fulham (Fourth Round), United 2-1 Reading (Fifth Round), United 2-2 Chelsea (Sixth Round)
Recent meetings at Stamford Bridge
Chelsea 5-4 United (31-10-12), Chelsea 2-3 United (28-10-12), Chelsea 3-3 United (05-02-12), Chelsea 0-1 United (06-04-11), Chelsea 2-1 United (01-03-11)
Phil Dowd. The 50-year-old has officiated 3 FA Cup ties this season, brandishing 8 yellow cards and 0 reds. While he has awarded no penalties in the competition, he has awarded 8 in the Premier League. Dowd last took charge of United for January’s 1-0 Third Round replay win over West Ham.
2012/13 head-to-head (PL)
Goals: (Chelsea) 59 – (United) 70
Conceded: 32– 31
Top scorer: Frank Lampard (12)– Robin van Persie (19)
Assists: Juan Mata (10) – Wayne Rooney (9)
Most appearances: Petr Cech (28) – Robin van Persie (27/3)
Disciplinary: 40 yellows, 2 reds – 44 yellows, 0 reds
Average possession: 56.0% – 57.0%
Pass success rate: 83.0% – 86.0%
Should Ryan Giggs feature, he will make an incredible 48th appearance vs Chelsea. He has 6 goals.
A goal for Wayne Rooney will draw him level with Sir Bobby Charlton on a club-record 10 goals vs Chelsea.
United have a 65% win record at home in FA Cup history but only 45% away from home.
Chelsea are on a run of 28 FA Cup matches without defeat…
… but United hold the best record in FA Cup history with 11 wins (5 under Sir Alex), 18 appearances in the final and 27 in the semi-finals.
There have been a grand total of 28 goals scored in the last 5 matches between the two sides.
The last time Chelsea lost an FA Cup tie inside 90 minutes, Lily Allen’s “The Fear” was at Number One in the singles chart.
Javier Hernandez has scored 4 FA Cup goals so far this season – twice as many as any Chelsea player. The diminutive Mexican also has 6 in 7 games vs the Blues.
Score prediction: Chelsea 1-2 United