Manchester United will have to quickly overcome the huge disappointment of their Champions League exit to Real Madrid as they attempt to get past Chelsea for a place in the FA Cup semifinals on Sunday.
The 2-1 loss in the second leg of their last-16 tie came after Nani had been sent off to the fury of United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and the majority of those inside Old Trafford in an epic European night. With hopes of a treble now gone, Ferguson’s job is to lift his players for what is always a keenly contested fixture.
"There are a lot of things you can do when you lose a game,” he said, according to Manchester United’s official Web site. “One thing we don't do is give in. We get up off our backsides and make sure we're ready for Sunday. Absolutely.
"A big game's probably best and we're at home, which is also good. It's a big game, the FA Cup. We have a hard game against good opponents. Chelsea have a terrific record in the FA Cup, probably the best of any team in the last decade. We haven't won it for almost 10 years, so there are a lot of incentives for us."
Much of the discussion since United’s defeat to Madrid has focused on Wayne Rooney, after the forward was surprisingly left out of the starting lineup. Ferguson reacted angrily to claims that a falling out between the pair would see Rooney leave this summer, while also revealing that the England international would be involved against Chelsea. Phil Jones remains on the injury list.
Although United have made the headlines, it has been another struggling week for Chelsea. Rafael Benitez’s overworked squad, playing their 50th match of the season, lost 1-0 in Romania to Steaua Bucharest in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 tie on Thursday.
While a Champions League place remains a priority for the remainder of the season, both Chelsea and Benitez will surely be fired up for a trip to Old Trafford. Benitez has a very personal history with Ferguson, with the pair having clashed famously while the Spaniard was in charge of Liverpool.
Chelsea’s only absentee is likely to be long-term injury victim Oriol Romeu.
Manchester United (probable)
G: De Gea
D: Rafael, Evans, Ferdinand, Evra
M: Carrick, Cleverley
Nani, Kagawa, Rooney
F: Van Persie
D: Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Cahill, Cole
M: Mikel, Lampard
Moses, Mata, Hazard
Prediction: Both clubs face the task of trying to lift themselves after midweek defeats. While Manchester United’s disappointment was undoubtedly more pronounced, they will also have the boost of playing at home.
Even in defeat against Madrid, United maintained their excellent form and should have too much for a Chelsea side that looks like it can’t wait for the season to end.
Manchester United 2-1 Chelsea
Where to watch: The FA Cup quarterfinal will kick-off from Old Trafford at 12.30 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by the Fox Soccer Channel, with a delayed online stream available via Fox Soccer 2Go.