In the biggest tie of the FA Cup tie of the quarter-finals, Chelsea are preparing to host Manchester United, who will be keen to make amends for their last trip to Stamford Bridge.
Upon his return to his former club in October, Jose Mourinho saw his United outfit put to the sword in a 4-0 romp, but since then his side have lost just one match.
Meanwhile, Chelsea have continued their winning ways to sit 10 points clear at the top of the Premier League table, and will be looking to make the most of the visitors’ recent heavy schedule.
Key Battle – N’Golo Kante v Ander Herrera
The little Frenchman has once again been simply outstanding this season, amazing fans with his ability to run all day and intercept passes in the middle of the park at will. He continues to make the midfield tick for Chelsea as they pursue a second Premier League title in three years, which would be back-to-back title winning campaigns for Kante.
Ander Herrera has played that exact role for Manchester United this season, bringing energy to the middle of the park. The Spaniard constantly plays with his heart on his sleeve, and will once again be key to breaking down opposition attacks. If he can perform as he has done all season, he will give United a greater sense of hope.
The hosts will enter the clash with a clean bill of health, meaning Antonio Conte may elect to field his strongest possible side. Captain John Terry may earn a place in defence having featured in his side’s previous three FA Cup matches.
On the other side of the coin, Manchester United have a striking crisis on their hands. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is set to begin his three-match suspension for an elbow on Bournemouth’s Tyrone Mings last weekend. While Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney have picked up injuries alongside an ill Marcus Rashford. Midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger also remains unavailable.
Courtois; Azpilicueta, Cahill, Luiz; Moses, Kante, Matic, Alonso; Pedro, Costa, Hazard.
De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Smalling, Shaw; Carrick, Herrera, Pogba; Mata, Mkhitaryan, Young; Fellaini
The pair have come together on a total of 175 previous occasions, with United holding a winning record of 75 to 51, while there has been 49 draws between the two sides.
Chelsea have had the wood over United in previous fixtures however, having not tasted defeat against the Red Devils in any of their past 11 matches. Stamford Bridge has not been a happy hunting ground for Mourinho’s side who have won just twice in their past 19 attempts away to the Blues.
It was a day to forget for Jose Mourinho upon his return to Stamford Bridge this summer when the Blues romped to a comprehensive 4-0 win. Pedro opened the scoring for the hosts after just 30 seconds on that occasion.
Before Gary Cahill, Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante all got in the act as the Blues sent a strong message to the remainder of their Premier League rivals.
The Blues are absolutely flying in the league, so fans shouldn’t expect them to let up in the famous cup competition. Antonio Conte’s men will enter the clash on the back of a full week’s break while Mourinho’s side have had just a few days to recover following their trip to Russia.
Without a recognised striker in their line-up it’s difficult to see where the goals are going to come from for United, and with Chelsea’s numerous threats across the pitch they should prove too strong for the visitors.
Chelsea 2 Manchester United 0