With Arsenal’s expected, if unspectacular victory over powerhouse Sutton United on Monday, the field is set for the FA Cup quarterfinals. The draw had been made earlier on Sunday of course, so we already knew that Arsenal would get to face yet another non-league side for a trip to the semifinals in Wembley. Chelsea have a slightly less easy path, one that will have to go through Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United.
The one unquestionable quality that Mourinho has is his ability and will to win at any cost. We can rest assured that this game will not be another 4-0 to Chelsea like the league meeting back in the fall — incidentally, Manchester United have lost only twice since then, both in meaningless games. And while the game is still a few weeks away, it’s hard not to talk about it a bit already. Even Mourinho was drawn into a few words over it, despite wanting to make no comment (“no reaction”) at first.
“Probably Chelsea can only think about that [the FA Cup] because I think they are champions and they have nothing else to fight for.”
“The FA Cup is something I believe is important for them. I have to play St Etienne [on Wednesday], I have to play the [League Cup] final, I have to play hopefully another opponent in the Europa League. I have to fight for a top-four position in the Premier League. I have so many things to think about.”
-José Mourinho; source: Football 365
The struggle is real, right, José? Here’s video of Mourinho making these pre-excuses, in case you want to see it for yourself (starts around the 1-minute mark).
So while overly sneaky Jose Mourinho chose not to directly address the draw — or is playing his usual “mind games” as other reports in the media would have us believe — overly nice Juan Mata is out for cold-blooded revenge. Juanito noooooo...
“Needless to say, [Chelsea at Stamford Bridge] is going to be another special game for me… This is without a doubt one of the most complicated ties we could have, but we will go there with the big motivation of earning a ticket to Wembley and forget the bad taste of our last visit to Stamford Bridge.”
-Juan Mata; source: JM Blog
Chelsea will be in action just twice before this quarterfinal matchup in three weeks. In contrast, United have at least three and probably four games to play. That’s equal parts hilarious and enviable. I certainly wouldn’t mind Chelsea fighting for a League Cup title and for advancement in the knockout round of a European competition.
Despite their busy fixture list, there’s little doubt that United will be motivated, hungry, and ready for the proverbial fight when they come to visit. With 14 wins in 18 games in all competitions and just 9 goals conceded, the Mourinho juggernaut looks to be awakening. We’ll have to be in top form — which we have two games to find — to dispatch them.
NB. Due to a change in rules for this season, there will be no replay in the FA Cup quarterfinals should the match end in a draw.