Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is eager to make the most of an FA Cup quarterfinal replay against Chelsea that he admits his side is lucky just to have.
Despite taking a 2-0 lead in the first match at Old Trafford, Chelsea came roaring back to dominate the second half and pull level. Only an outstanding save from David de Gea from Juan Mata late on prevented the visitors from claiming victory.
"I thought we were lucky to be honest with you," Ferguson said, according to Manchester United’s official website. "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.”
Despite both sides having been in action in the Premier League just 48 hours earlier, Ferguson believes his squad is in good physical shape as they look to setup a semifinal clash with neighbors Manchester City.
“We’re fresher now and we’ve got a strong squad in terms of picking two teams,” he added.
Ferguson left out the likes of Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra in victory over Sunderland on Saturday and all three are likely to come back in to what looks set to be a much-changed lineup. Nani, Phil Jones and Paul Scholes could all make their first appearances since returning from injuries, but Rafael is out, having picked up a groin injury at the Stadium of Light. Jones may be given a midfield role to try and negate Chelsea’s trio of attacking midfielders.
Perhaps more surprising, given that they are still trying to secure a place in next season’s Champions League, Chelsea also rested several players on Saturday. Ashley Cole and Eden Hazard were among those who started on the bench as Chelsea paid the price with a 2-1 defeat to Southampton.
Both should come into the side on Monday, likely alongside David Luiz and Demba Ba, while Juan Mata should be included after suffering from a fever.
D: Azpilicueta, Luiz, Cahill, Cole
M: Ramires, Mikel
Mata, Oscar, Hazard
Manchester United (probable)
G: De Gea
D: Smalling, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra
M: Jones, Carrick
Nani, Rooney, Welbeck
Betting Odds Chelsea are slight favorites to get the victory after 90 minutes, priced at 31/20 with Bet 365. A Manchester United win is available at 9/5, with a draw on offer at 13/5. To progress to the semifinals, Chelsea are 5/6 and Manchester United evens.
Where to watch: The FA Cup quarterfinal replay will kick-off from Stamford Bridge at 7.30 a.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by the Fox Soccer Channel. A live stream, which you view at your own discretion, will be available here.
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.