The Blues travel to Stamford Bridge to take on a Man United side looking to bounce back from their midweek defeat to Real Madrid.
Wayne Rooney will hope to prove his worth to Manchester United when they bid to put their Champions League heartache behind them against Chelsea in Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final.
The England striker was dropped to the bench for United’s 2-1 loss to Real Madrid on Tuesday, sparking speculation that he could be set to leave the club he joined from Everton in 2004.
However, United manager Alex Ferguson has branded those reports “rubbish” and revealed that the 27-year-old will play a part at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Though he stopped short of confirming that Rooney would start the game, Ferguson defended his right to keep his team selections under wraps.
“He’ll be involved on Sunday,” the United manager said.
“(But) I’m not prepared to give away my team. Why should I? Why should I help anyone? We don’t do that.”
Ferguson was nonetheless prepared to reveal that Ryan Giggs will play no part against Chelsea after putting in a superb 90-minute shift against Madrid in what was his 1,000th senior appearance.
“Ryan Giggs won’t play (against Chelsea) on Sunday. Why? He was the best player we had (on Tuesday),” said Ferguson.
“We know how to control him and get Ryan prepared for certain games. He has done his bit for us. Next week, yes; different game, another bit of rest.
“Wayne understood exactly what we were doing. I explained to him before we announced the team.”
Ferguson was so angered by his side’s loss to Madrid, which turned on the controversial 56th-minute dismissal of United winger Nani, that he refused to speak to media after the game.
He will nonetheless have found solace in United’s 12-point lead over Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table, as well as the possibility of reaching a first FA Cup final since 2007.
Chelsea’s situation is rather less comfortable.
Winners of the FA Cup in four of the last six seasons, Chelsea’s recent form suggests the trophy may represent their only chance of finishing the season with some silverware.
The Blues currently sit in fourth place in the Premier League and suffered a shock 1-0 loss at Steaua Bucharest in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 tie on Thursday.
However, goalkeeper Petr Cech believes the trip to Old Trafford provides a perfect opportunity to draw a line beneath their own European disappointment.
“It’s the best way to forget about this defeat,” Cech told Chelsea TV.
“The games are coming thick and fast. We won’t have much time to prepare, but we’ll get a little bit of rest and hopefully we’ll have a good performance on Sunday.
“They are the favourites for the game, but it’s the FA Cup and in the FA Cup not every time do the favourites win.
“We’re still the holders, so we’ll try to keep our trophy as long as we can.”
Serbian defender Branislav Ivanovic is wary of the threat that a wounded United will present.
“It is going to be one of our biggest challenges of the season, especially playing them at this moment,” he said.
“When you go out of the biggest competition in that way, it must be disappointing, but they will be more motivated because of that.”
With Giggs sitting the game out, Ferguson is likely to turn to either Antonio Valencia or Ashley Young to fill one of the wide roles.
Phil Jones (ankle) and Paul Scholes (knee) are both definitely out.
Beleaguered interim Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez has rotated his squad in recent games and could elect to omit Fernando Torres and captain John Terry from his starting XI.
Both players started the game in Bucharest, but Demba Ba, Victor Moses and Ramires missed the trip to Romania and are expected to return to the squad.
Venue Old Trafford, Sunday 4.30pm
Previous meetings Man Utd 72 Chelsea 45 Draw 48
Referee Howard Webb
This season’s matches 23 Y84, R2, 3.74 cards per game
Subs from Lindegaard, Johnstone, Buttner, Welbeck, Powell, Giggs, Anderson, Young, Smalling, Ferdinand, Hernández
Doubtful None Injured Jones (ankle, 22 Mar), Scholes (knee, 22 Mar), Fletcher (Aug, illness)
Form guide LWWWDW
Disciplinary record Y43 R0
Leading scorer Van Persie 23
Subs from Turnbull, Hilário, Azpilicueta, Ferreira, Terry, Ake, Bertrand, Lampard, Oscar, Benayoun, Torres, Marin
Injured Romeu (knee, Aug)
Form guide WLWLDW
Disciplinary record Y40 R2
Leading scorer Mata 17
• These Premier League giants have met 165 times competitively. Manchester United have won 72, Chelsea 45 and 48 have been drawn.
• Manchester United lost for the first time in seven meetings with an odd goal in nine reverse after extra-time in the fourth round of the League Cup at Stamford Bridge in October. The Red Devils had already won their Premier League visit 3-2 three days earlier, against a nine-man Chelsea – Branislav Ivanovic and Fernando Torres both getting their marching orders.
• Manchester United hold an eight wins to two lead in the FA Cup standings, highlighted by a 4-0 victory in the 1994 final with two penalties from Eric Cantona. However in their last meeting, which was also United’s most recent FA Cup final appearance and the first to be held at the new Wembley in 2007, Chelsea won 1-0 courtesy of a goal in extra time from Didier Drogba.
• Manchester United will be smarting from Tuesday’s cruel exit from the Champions League, as they defend the best record in FA Cup history of 11 wins (five under Sir Alex Ferguson), 18 appearances in the final and 27 in the semi-finals.
• The Premier League champions-elect are determined to do the double, having not won the cup since 2004, and this despite drawing a Premier League club for the eighth time in succession.
• The Red Devils are looking for a 21st win from 28 FA Cup rounds against Premier league sides since lifting the silverware nine years ago, and a 14th win from the last 17 FA Cup matches at Old Trafford, and a third in a row.
• Javier Hernandez is looking to add to his three goals in this season’s competition.
• Holders Chelsea are defending the most impressive recent record in the FA Cup, being winners in four of the last six seasons, and in seven overall.
• They have won 22 of their last 26 FA Cup matches, drawing in four – including the loss on penalties to Everton in a fourth round replay in 2011. They’ve also won eight and drawn two of the last 10 cup ties on opponents’ grounds, since falling to Barnsley in the 2008 quarter-finals.
• Blues have beaten 13 of the last 14 Premier League clubs they have encountered in this competition, and have found the net in all 27 FA Cup outings, since the 1-0 loss to the Tykes at Oakwell.
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