Earlier this season, when the two teams met in the league for a tense and controversial match at Stamford Bridge, it looked like the battle between two contenders for the league title. When Manchester United and Chelsea take the field at Old Trafford with the FA Cup in mind, it’ll be very different in terms of the power balance between the sides.
Because Chelsea seem to be slipping in form, with successful moments in between, from the moment the season started. This was the year of 7 trophies, but Chelsea are left with only two, and that might be over very soon – the FA Cup, going into Old Trafford as big underdogs, and the Europa League, where they lost their first leg against Steaua.
Rafa Benitez simply looks like a man who has given up on trying to win over the fans, but also on trying to find an answer to the problems plaguing his team. Many think he can’t, not even at his own fault – the wrong kind of squad with the wrong expectations. Maybe next season, when the adjustments are made, and Chelsea don’t have four players, three of them brand new, who like to play on the same position. Maybe when their leading striker, Fernando Torres, is merely a fade, walking around football pitches waiting for fortune to smile upon him instead of frown.
Manchester United are also coming off a European defeat, but no one is doubting their manager, who seems to have a falling out with one of his biggest stars, but few expect it to really change the direction this team is headed to. A league title that’s almost clinched, and now that the European dream is over too soon for the second straight season, winning the double with their first FA Cup since 2004, as Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes are the only players in the squad to win it among the current players, seems like a crucial achievement to tick before this season is over.
Predictions – Manchester United at Old Trafford are the hardest match in all of the United Kingdom, and even if their top striker isn’t hitting lately (one goal in 8 matches) and Wayne Rooney is an uncertainty, Chelsea don’t look like the kind of the team with the fortitude and motivation to claim a win, possibly not even a draw.