United con­fi­dent of aveng­ing Chelsea mis­ery, says Fel­laini

New Straits Times - - Sport -

Ob­vi­ously we lost there a few months ago, but now it is the FA Cup and we will see what hap­pens,


Man United midfielder

MAROUANE Fel­laini in­sists Manch­ester United are con­fi­dent of aveng­ing the worst mo­ment of Jose Mour­inho’s reign when they re­turn to Chelsea in the FA Cup quar­ter­fi­nals on Mon­day.

Mour­inho’s first visit to Stam­ford Bridge since his sack­ing as Chelsea boss last sea­son ended in hu­mil­i­a­tion as his for­mer club romped to a 4-0 vic­tory over United in October.

United have used the mem­ory of that painful loss to fuel a dom­i­nant pe­riod which has seen them lose just twice in all com­pe­ti­tions since then.

They lifted the first ma­jor tro­phy of the Mour­inho era with a League Cup fi­nal vic­tory against Southamp­ton last month and re­main in con­tention for fur­ther sil­ver­ware in the FA Cup and Europa League.

Chelsea have been equally pow­er­ful, open­ing up a 10-point lead at the top of the Pre­mier League and ad­vanc­ing to the last eight of the FA Cup as boss An­to­nio Conte chases a dou­ble in his first sea­son as Mour­inho’s per­ma­nent re­place­ment in west Lon­don.

Al­though United are 17 points be­hind Chelsea, United midfielder Fel­laini is adamant they can turn the ta­bles with a place in the semi-fi­nals up for grabs.

“Ob­vi­ously we lost there a few months ago, but now it is the FA Cup and we will see what hap­pens,” Fel­laini said.

“It will be tight, I think. It is the FA Cup, it is one game.

“They are top of the league, they have con­fi­dence, they have great play­ers, but we will show our qual­ity there and see what hap­pens.

Chelsea’s hopes of se­cur­ing a club record 13th suc­ces­sive home win may have been boosted by the con­trast­ing prepa­ra­tions the two teams have had this week.

While Conte and his play­ers have been able to plot Mour­inho’s down­fall at their train­ing base since Mon­day’s win at West Ham, United were forced to em­bark on a drain­ing trip to Rus­sian club Ros­tov on Thurs­day in the Europa League.

Mour­inho be­moaned the poor qual­ity of the pitch in Rus­sia and, with his play­ers not ar­riv­ing home un­til the early hours of Fri­day morn­ing, it would be no sur­prise if they showed signs of fa­tigue at Stam­ford Bridge.

Even so, Conte doesn’t an­tic­i­pate an easy ride from a team with United’s strength in depth.

“Manch­ester United, to­gether with (Manch­ester) City, has the best squad in the league,” Conte said.

“They have a lot, a num­ber of great play­ers, with great tal­ent and great ex­pe­ri­ence to win.

“We have a good iden­tity, our team. But for sure it will be a re­ally tough game for us and for them.”

Conte’s wild touch­line cel­e­bra­tions of his team’s goals irked Mour­inho in October and the United boss ac­cused his ri­val of de­lib­er­ately stir­ring up the Chelsea fans, who taunted their for­mer idol with chants of “you’re not spe­cial any­more.”

It will be fas­ci­nat­ing to see what sort of re­cep­tion Mour­inho gets from Chelsea’s sup­port­ers this time.

But de­spite Mour­inho’s protests, Conte has no in­ten­tion of ton­ing down the touch­line the­atrics that have be­come his trade­mark this sea­son.

“I’ve shown at Chelsea, not only Chelsea, ev­ery team that I man­aged that I live the game with great pas­sion,” Conte said.

“Some­times I want to share my en­thu­si­asm, my pas­sion with my play­ers, with my staff, also with the fans. I think it’s nor­mal.

“I’m very fo­cused on the pitch. The mind games (with Mour­inho) don’t bring you the win.

“For me the most im­por­tant thing is to try to win, then to think for an­other cel­e­bra­tion.”

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