Jose Mourinho derby time!!!
With Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur all safely through to the FA Cup semi finals, Chelsea host Manchester United in search for the final spot in the last four.
This is effectively a Jose Mourinho derby with his former club hosting his latest side. The question is, who will grab the Cup bragging rights here?
Antonio Conte has a fully fit squad to choose from after an excellent victory at West Ham last week.
Jose Mourinho however is without star man, Zlatan Ibrahimovic as he starts a domestic three match ban. Potential replacements; Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney are all out through injury. In another blow, Marcus Rashford is ruled out through illness leaving no recognisable strikers in the squad.
Midfielder, Bastian Schweinsteiger is a doubt for this tie with an unknown injury.
Eric Bailly however is available after serving his one match European ban in Rostov on Thursday.
Chelsea would of had a full week to prepare come kick off to United’s 96 hours. This makes the Blues favourites especially when factor in that their visitors had to go to Russia in midweek. Ibrahimovic’s ban also spices things up because Mourinho has tough decisions to make as to who starts up front.
Their home record this season has been impressive since a disappointing 2-1 defeat to Liverpool in September. The Red Devils are however strong away from Old Trafford but their last FA Cup defeat on the road came here in April 2013, after a replay.
Squad rotation should hopefully be at a minimum for Conte because he has five days to get them re-energised for the trip to Stoke on Saturday. Mourinho however needs to make plenty of changes, ahead of Thursday’s Europa League second leg against FC Rostov.
This game will be United’s 46th whereas Chelsea will only be on their 34th this season in all competitions. With a fixture congestion looming, defeat for United will be a slight relief because they won’t have to worry about playing twice in the final midweek.
The match should be feisty after Chelsea drubbed United 4-0 in the league when they visited in October. Mourinho is yet to lose a FA Cup quarter final so expect him to try and keep hold of that record.
As title holders, expect United to dig deep regardless of whoever starts up front. The Londoners haven’t been able to dump any defending champions out of the FA Cup since January 1966 so this is a big ask of them.
Realistically looking at how the other quarter finals have gone, this should be a case of best saved till last. Extra time and penalties won’t be a surprise at United’s expense because they need to be as fresh as possible for Thursday night.
If settled in 90 minutes, expect a slim win for the visitors but if need an extra half hour or penalties, it’s impossible to look past Chelsea.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-1 Manchester United (AET)
Result: Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United (In 90 Minutes)