This weekend the Reds travel to Chelsea in the FA Cup Quarter Final on Monday in a 7:45pm kickoff. At this stage in the competition, five of the top six teams in the Premier League remain and they are joined by Middlesbrough, League 1 side Millwall and the giant killers of Lincoln City.
It is likely Arsenal will be a step too far for the National League side, although that has been said about them in most rounds and it seems they throw the formbook out the window each time. Who doesn’t love an underdog. City play away at ‘Boro and I pray the Teesiders can do the job, a result which wouldn’t be the shock of the round in my eyes. To round off the ties, Millwall travel to Spurs in what is bound to be a very tasty London derby. If this game was at The Den I could maybe see the Lions getting a replay but fortunately for Spurs, White Hart Lane is very much a fortress right now.
United go into this weekend off the back of a 4,260 mile round trip to Russia where they drew 1-1 to FC Rostov. Many people have called this a good result for United given the distance, environment and situation. At what point was Manchester United ‘earning’ a draw against Rostov in the Europa League satisfactory? Granted, the players may have had an eye on Chelsea as this FA Cup tie could be a pivotal point in our season. But I fully expected our class to show against Rostov, even if it was on a bad pitch.
Apart from the staggering draw on Saturday against Bournemouth, United’s form has been solid and Jose seems to have found a formula for success. Zlatan will be a big miss on Monday, his experience and leadership is important in games against the big teams, especially Chelsea away. It will be interesting to see how Mourinho sets the team up and who he chooses to lead the line against David Luiz and Gary Cahill; two extremely competent centre-backs. United will need to play tight and compact if they are to guard against the deadly Chelsea counter attacks. Mhkitaryan had a good game against Rostov and got himself on the score sheet, I expect him to feature as well as Mata who has been in fine form and Martial who, well, doesn’t really have someone directly challenging for his position.
Chelsea look exceptional at the moment and this is arguably the most difficult draw United could have got. The Blues are favourites to win and I have to say I will be surprised if the result is anything other than a Chelsea win. I would certainly take a reply and hope Zlatan can lead the Reds to a victory at Old Trafford. Tough game, but this is United and I never bet against United.