Benitez relishing United tie

Interim boss Rafael Benitez is relishing Chelsea's FA Cup quarter-final clash with Manchester United.

Last Updated: 09/03/13 at 13:25 Post Comment

Rafael Benitez: Geared up for Old Trafford return

Rafael Benitez: Geared up for Old Trafford return

Chelsea hope to continue their rich recent FA Cup pedigree when they face Manchester United in Sunday's quarter-final at Old Trafford.

United, the runaway Barclays Premier League leaders and 19 points clear of fourth-placed Chelsea, last won the FA Cup in 2004.

Since 2007, the Blues have dominated the competition with four wins in six years, while interim manager Rafael Benitez lifted the trophy with Liverpool in 2006.

Following the highs of Wembley and Munich last May, Chelsea are enduring a torrid 2012/13 season and became the first Champions League holders to exit at the group stage last November.

The Blues lost their opening last-16 Europa League fixture with Steaua Bucharest on Thursday night and Benitez is pleased to have a swift change of focus with a key fixture against fierce rivals.

"It's a positive. It's good and it's a challenge for us," he said. "In terms of the focus of the players, it's good. We have an opportunity very quickly to change things.

"It's a good competition, a very exciting competition and Chelsea, as a club and as a team, have been doing really well. Hopefully we can carry on doing well after this game. That means that we will be through."

Bar the third-round defeat of Southampton, so far this season, the FA Cup has not been one of solace for Chelsea or Benitez.

The Blues needed a replay to defeat npower League One side Brentford, then claimed a 2-0 win at Middlesbrough in a fifth-round tie overshadowed by comments made by Benitez.

The Spaniard hit back at his continual barracking by the club's supporters, telling them to use their energies to support the team and criticising the decision to name him 'interim manager', rather than just 'manager'.

It was an impassioned rant from the former Liverpool boss, reminiscent of those provoked by his frosty relationship with United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

Benitez will renew hostilities with Ferguson at Old Trafford, where the hosts will be looking to prove a point following their Champions League elimination to Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid in midweek.

But Benitez would not be drawn on the nature of his relationship with Ferguson.

"I am a manager and I just concentrate on doing my job," he said, before adding that he will not be joining his United counterpart for a glass of red wine post-match.

"We know that he has a good team so this will be a very difficult game. That is normal. When you're running a top side and you're playing against top sides, it's always difficult."

Given the proximity of the fixtures - Thursday's second leg with Steaua will be Chelsea's third in eight days - Benitez is almost certain to rotate his squad.

John Obi Mikel made his fourth appearance since returning victorious from the African Nations Cup and the Nigeria midfielder is targeting further success in a competition in which he has an extensive medal collection.

"We've earned the right to say that it's our cup," Mikel told FATV.

"I've won it four times and I'm still hungry for it. I still want to win five, six, seven times.

"I still want to win trophies for this club and new players want to put hands on one of these trophies."

United are the obstacle in Mikel and Chelsea's way.

The 25-year-old added: "It's never an easy game. We've earned the right to be there, to play them at Old Trafford.

"It's a game that we have to look forward to. As a player these are the kind of games you want to be involved in."


Click here for completely free £10 bet with Sky Bet & £5 free every week


Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

S

till reckon Chelsea will go for Khedira as back up for Matic. I think it will turn out to be quite a Mourihno-y window: We'll see the squad players and youth in action pre-season, say things like well, we need not buy anybody and then the club will bid £60m for Pogba and send everybody on loan.

tk421
F365's Transfer Guide - Part One

I

would love to be a fly on the wall at the meeting between Milner and Rodgers. I don't know if flies can count, but if they can then I would be counting the number of times Rodgers used the word outstanding in his attempts to get Milner to sign.

godzilla
Reds and Arsenal chase Milner

W

ell, it wouldn't be a summer without Arsenal fans fretting over losing a key player, and United throwing their weight around and muscling in on transfer deals which are (apparently) near to completion. If we can't be entertained by the football on the pitch, let's enjoy the silly off-pitch soap opera of the transfer season. Hurrah!

CamberleyGooner
The Back To It Gossip

Footer 365

Gundogan yet to make decision on future

Borussia Dortmund midfielder Ilkay Gundogan could yet join Manchester United this summer, according to a report from Germany.

Atleti, Arsenal and Liverpool target Vietto

Villarreal are reportedly attempting to renegotiate Luciano Vietto's contract to ward off interest from Atletico Madrid, Arsenal and Liverpool.

Sepp Blatter plans US trip for CONCACAF Gold Cup

Sepp Blatter is planning to visit the United States to attend next month’s CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament.

Mail Box

James Milner: Jose's Perfect Player?

Probably. But presumably he would not swap one bench for another. We have mails on over-hyped players, Arsenal enthusiasm, UEFA, FIFA and naked dudes...

Francis Is Coq Of The North (London)

There is more praise for Mesut Ozil, but it's Francis Coquelin who gets the big love in the Mails. Plus Lazio, Wilshere swears (who cares?) and an over-capped England...

© 2015 Sky Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media company