With both teams having suffered disappointment recently, both managers and teams are under pressure to emerge from the tie victorious.
Manchester United were knocked out of the Champions League by Real Madrid on Tuesday, after a controversial refereeing decision, saw the Red Devils go down to ten men.
Sir Alex Ferguson refused to appear in the post-match press conference and is now under charge from UEFA for failing to fulfill his media obligations.
United were chasing a treble and have enjoyed this season as sensational run of form and confidence. However, such a devastating disappointment, which left the manager and the dressing room ‘distraught’, could yet worsen if they are knocked out of the FA Cup by the holders this weekend.
United are currently 12 points clear at the top of the Premier League – a lead that is difficult to imagine them losing – but defeats and disappointments have been known to have a knock- on effect in football and Manchester City will be breathing down their necks if they stumble.
A win against the Blues would surely be just what the doctor ordered for Ferguson and his United – the perfect remedy for disillusionment and despair – but a loss would see United knocked out of two competitions in the space of a week and surely would have an adverse affect on their confidence and morale.
Speaking of confidence and morale, the mood in the Blues camp is surely the worst it’s been in years.
The fans hate the manager aggressively and vocally and want him out, the main striker still isn’t scoring, and if their not careful, they could exit the Europa League after losing 1-0 to Steaua Bucharest on Thursday evening.
The Blues have been on a roller-coaster ride – they enjoyed the heights of winning the Champions League and FA Cup last season under fans’ favourite Roberto Di Matteo but have since lost the UEFA Super Cup, slipped out of the title race in the Premier League, lost the FIFA Club World Cup final, exited the Champions League and been knocked out of the League Cup.
After Thursday evening’s defeat in Bucharest, the last thing the club, the team or the ‘interim’ manager need is to be knocked out of the FA Cup. They are the holders and their league form is so inconsistent at the moment that they will have to fight for every point to stay inside the top four. They undoubtedly need to win the competition more than United (from a neutral perspective).
Unite still have the Premier League title as their silverware if they get knocked out and they will undoubtedly be playing Champions League football next season.
The same cannot be said for the Blues whose season has gone from bad to worse. They must beat United at Old Trafford and overturn the one-goal margin against Bucharest at Stamford Bridge, for it not to be a season wasted.
Manchester United are in a strong position – they will almost certainly win the league – unless something terrible happens like…getting knocked out of a competition. Again.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald