Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez spoke about the importance of finishing in the top four all week long, but then he rested several key players against Southampton. As a result of the 2-1 defeat against Southampton, there is a danger of our season crumbling in a week.
In order to prevent that, Chelsea have to win against Manchester United in the FA Cup quarter-final replay. The lack of intensity and creativity shown against Southampton cannot be repeated against the Premier League leaders at any cost.
Chelsea haven’t lost a home match for almost 2 months now, while Manchester United’s away record has also been imperious.
One area where United have an advantage is in the squad strength. Sir Alex Ferguson has more often than not managed to keep the team’s intensity intact even when making several changes. Chelsea – under Rafa Benitez – have not necessarily displayed this attribute, but the likely return of Juan Mata and Eden Hazard to the starting line-up might aid the 2012 European Champions.
David Luiz may return to the starting line-up, but Benitez once again said that England defender Gary Cahill is a major doubt.
United rested key names like Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs for the 1-0 win over Sunderland during the weekend. They can be expected to start the match, but defender Rafael Da Silva is likely to miss the match due to a groin injury.
Benitez and Torres voiced their opinions on the official Chelsea website ahead of the match.
Benitez on facing United:[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]”United are top of the table and we were better than them in the first game. We can compete. When you play two games in three days it is not easy, and we are doing well for the situation we have.”[/quote]
Torres on the FA Cup and the Europa League:[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]”The finals are not far away. It is two games to be in the FA Cup final and four games for the Europa League, so let’s go for it.”[/quote]
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech, Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Luiz, Cole, Mikel, Ramires, Oscar, Mata, Hazard, Ba
Manchester United (4-4-1-1): De Gea, Smalling, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Welbeck, Cleverley, Young, Anderson, Rooney, Hernandez
Stadium: Stamford Bridge
Kick-off time: Monday, 1 Apr 2013, 12:30 GMT.