9th March 2013
With United looking for the first FA Cup title since 2004 and Sir Alex Ferguson likely to demand a response after the unfortunate Champions League defeat to Real Madrid, the hosts will have plenty of motives to win this match. Chelsea are in all sorts of problems after losing to Steaua in the Europa League, and this could be a good opportunity for the Blues to kick-start this season.
Manchester United worked really hard to get where they are at the moment, so they have every right to feel aggrieved with referee Cuneyt Cakir for denying them a great chance to eliminate mighty Real Madrid and reach Champions League quarter-finals. The Red Devils had done brilliantly to match a technically superior side in two legs and to restrict their former player Cristiano Ronaldo from making a huge impact, even if he ended up scoring in both matches. Therefore, the Red Devils can be proud of their performance against one of world’s strongest sides and that should keep them in good stead for the FA Cup clash with Chelsea. United had more than enough time to prepare for the all-important match, meaning another convincing home display is on the cards. Wayne Rooney looks set to return to the starting line-up after he was famously left out of the side to face Real, while Antonio Valencia, Anderson, Jonny Evans and Shinji Kagawa are also pushing for starting places. Phil Jones and Paul Scholes continue to miss out and Ryan Giggs will be rested.
Chelsea’s season has been going from bad to worse for a while now, and the question is whether they have enough in them to arrest the latest downtrend. As much as Rafael Benitez would like everyone to think that he is not to blame for team’s disappointing results, the reality is completely different. While losing the majority of high-profile matches, the Blues are largely struggling even against those smaller sides, with Europa League defeat to Steaua the perfect proof. It appears that even the players have lost faith in their manager, which is obviously having a negative effect on their performances. After losing to both Newcastle United and Manchester City in their last two away fixtures in the Premier League, Chelsea have little to hope for before the trip to Old Trafford. Rafa Benitez is set to make some changes to the starting line-up, with Ashley Cole, Juan Mata and Demba Ba all expected to return after they were rested in midweek.
Manchester United are unlikely to be too affected by the unfortunate defeat to Real Madrid given that their performance was nothing short of impressive. The same cannot be said for Chelsea, who are clearly far from the desired form, very low on confidence and without a quality guidance at the moment.
Verdict: Home win Manchester United (1)
Best Odds: 5/6
Bookmaker: Paddy Power