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PRE-MATCH BRIEFING: MANCHESTER UNITED V CHELSEA

TACTICAL BRIEF
A wounded Man United are the clear favourites according to bookmakers, but how might Chelsea upset the odds in our favourite cup competition? Former Blue Clive Walker weighs up the possibilities.

Key battles
'We know a top four finish is the club's priority but we do pride ourselves on taking the FA Cup very seriously.

'Several players look likely to return on Sunday with Victor Moses and Ramires having been rested midweek and Juan Mata, Ashley Cole, Gary Cahill, César Azpilicueta may well start.

'For Chelsea against Man United it's always about winning the midfield battle and getting the creative players, especially Mata, on the ball. We played a lot of long balls in Bucharest and that didn't suit Fernando Torres; that's not his game.

'Demba Ba scored an equaliser for Newcastle from the spot at Old Trafford a few years ago, so he's not fazed by the place. He will be hungry for goals and the service to him has to be top drawer.

'We've also seen how, when he holds it up, he brings others into play and Mata has to be on hand, cute and clever on the ball, to affect the outcome. If he has a bright game it could be a good day for the Blues.

'If we have all guns blazing we can put United on the back foot after their own much bigger European disappointment. We have five players on two goals in this competition, so we're finding the net as usual.

'The players will need no special motivation for this anyway. It's a competition we love, it's against a great adversary who you know you have to perform against simply to avoid a big defeat. The players will know they need to find a little bit extra on Sunday.

'We know how United will play - they rarely change. It is all about their wingers getting behind and cutting the ball back. In the league game our defending was poor at times, Robin van Persie and Hernandez being given far too much freedom in and around the box. Our men will have to stay on their feet against Van Persie, not jump in. Stand in front of him; make him beat you.

Mikel and Van Persie


'The wide defenders always have a major role to play against United. Sir Alex Ferguson knows how we play. I wouldn't be surprised to see Antonio Valencia start on the right against Ash. He's not great defensively but he's strong, quick and can open play up.

'I doubt Nani will start. Ferguson might slot Wayne Rooney in on the left or Shinji Kagawa, who seems to be the new Ji-Sung Park: brought in for big games. Kagawa's an intelligent player but so is Azpilicueta who may be asked to handle the Japanese.

'Rooney's state of mind will dominate the build-up after he stayed on the bench on Tuesday. We don't know whether he will be fed up about missing out on a huge game in his career, or champing at the bit to make up for those midweek headlines.'

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PRE-MATCH BRIEFING: MANCHESTER UNITED V CHELSEA

CHELSEA STATS

Chelsea in the FA Cup
Winners: 1970, 1997, 2000, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012
Runners-up: 1915, 1967, 1994, 2002
Semi-finalists: 1911, 1920, 1932, 1950, 1952, 1965, 1966, 1996, 2006


Chelsea are unbeaten in 27 FA Cup matches in open play (excluding penalty shoot-outs). Our last defeat in the competition was at Barnsley five years ago in March 2008.

Last 10 seasons in the FA Cup
2002/03 - Quarter-final
2003/04 - 5th round
2004/05 - 5th round
2005/06 - Semi-final
2006/07 - Winners
2007/08 - Quarter-final
2008/09 - Winners
2009/10 - Winners
2010/11 - 4th round
2011/12 - Winners

 

Last six results
Feb 17 Brentford (FA Cup h) W 4-0
Feb 21 Sparta Prague (Europa League h) D 1-1
Feb 24 Manchester City (a) L 0-2
Feb 27 Middlesbrough (FA Cup 5 a) W 2-0
Mar 2 West Brom (h) W 1-0
Mar 7 Steaua Bucharest (Europa League a) L 0-1

 

Scorers Mata 17, Torres 15 (1 pen), Lampard 13 (5 pens), E Hazard 10 (2 pens), Oscar 9 (1 pen), Ramires 7, Cahill 6, Ivanovic 6, Moses 6, Ba 4, D Luiz 4 (2 pens), Bertrand 2, Sturridge 2, Terry 2, Cole 1, Marin 1, Romeu 1 (pen), own goals 3. Total 109

 

Chelsea's next three games
Thu 14 Mar Steaua Bucharest (Europa Lge rd of 16) home 8.05pm
Sun 17 Mar West Ham home 4pm
Sun 31 Mar Southampton away 4pm

 

MILESTONES
Frank Lampard needs one goal to reach 200 goals for Chelsea and three to equal our all-time top scorer Bobby Tambling.

If selected, Frank will make his 550th start and also his 50th FA Cup start for Chelsea


MAN UNITED STATS
Formed 1878 (as Newton Heath Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway).


Man United in the FA Cup
Winners: 1909, 1948, 1963, 1977, 1983, 1985, 1990, 1994, 1996, 1999, 2004.
Runners-up: 1957, 1958, 1976, 1979, 1995, 2005, 2007.


This season's FA Cup campaign
Jan 5 (3) West Ham (a) D 2-2
Jan 16 (Rep) West Ham (h) W 1-0
Jan 26 (4) Fulham (h) W 4-1
Feb 18 (5) Reading (h) W 2-1

 

FA Cup scorers Hernandez 3, Rooney 2, Cleverley 1, Giggs 1 (pen), Nani 1, Van Persie 1. Total 9.
Man United have won 19 of their 22 games at Old Trafford in all competitions Only Tottenham, Cluj and Real Madrid have been victorious at the Theatre of Dreams this term.

Their defeat to Real Madrid on Tuesday ended a run of 10 successive wins at Old Trafford.

United were knocked out of last season's FA Cup in the fourth round by Liverpool.

They last lost at home in the FA Cup in January 2010 when Championship side Leeds won by the only goal. United have won six successive home games in the FA Cup since then.


Last 10 seasons in the FA Cup
2002/03 - 5th round
2003/04 - winners
2004/05 - runners-up
2005/06 - 5th round
2006/07 - runners-up
2007/08 - quarter-final
2008/09 - semi-final
2009/10 - 3rd round
2010/11 - semi-final
2011/12 - 4th round


Manager Sir Alex Ferguson
Days in charge: 9,621
Played: 1,488
Won: 890
Drawn: 334
Lost: 264

 

PMB


 

Last six results
Feb 10 Everton (h) W 2-0
Feb 13 Real Madrid (Champions League a) D 1-1
Feb 18 Reading (FA Cup h) W 2-1
Feb 23 QPR (a) W 2-0
Mar 2 Norwich (h) W 4-0
Mar 5 Real Madrid (Champions League h) L 1-2



THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
The referee is Howard Webb. This is his fourth Chelsea and third Man United match of the season. There were no red cards or penalties awarded in any of those games.


OTHERWISE ENGAGED
There are no suspensions.

David Luiz and Ramires are two bookings away from a two-match domestic ban for reaching 10 yellow cards before the second Sunday of April.

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