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Wednesday, 16 January, 2019

No quarter given as Chelsea face United in FA Cup

Close contest likely at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte takes on former Blues boss Jose Mourinho
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FA Cup quarter-final
BBC1, 7.45pm Monday

Jose Mourinho was humiliated on his last visit to Stamford Bridge and the Manchester United manager will be determined to make sure there is no repeat against former club Chelsea when the sides meet in the FA Cup quarter-finals.

Chelsea ran riot in October, winning 4-0, and Mourinho responded to the hammering by claiming that the supposed over-exuberant celebrations of current Blues boss Antonio Conte showed a lack of respect towards United. 

However, on the pitch there is likely to be plenty of respect shown. Mourinho has announced that he won't play a reserve side, as Manchester City did at the Bridge last season, while Conte failed to confirm he would rotate his side as he has in previous rounds against Sky Bet Football League opposition.

The betting moves suggest a tight contest with the goals line going south and no is the favourite in the both-teams-to-score market. United's late injury issues don't suggest a classic either but one goal at either end will open up the game.

Paddy Power have also shifted the time of the first goal up to over/under 30 minutes, leaving little room to manoeuvre for those looking to bet against goals.

Value is difficult to find but backing there to be either two or three goals may prove profitable. That has happened in 16 of Chelsea's 27 Premier League games this season and 15 of United's 26, so evens looks a little big.

Chelsea were always odds-on favourites to win inside 90 minutes and they have been triumphant in 15 of their 16 Stamford Bridge matches under Conte but the early prices were doing United a disservice, even with top goalscorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic suspended.

The Premier League leaders have shortened further following the news Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford have not travelled with Marouane Fellaini tipped to start as an emergency forward for United. 

However, the EFL Cup winners have lost only two of their 31 fixtures since their Bridge battering, which was heavily influenced by Pedro's first-minute goal that changed the whole dynamic of the game.

Those losses were at Hull, when United held a comfortable first-leg advantage, and an away game at Fenerbahce in the Europa League which was nowhere near as important as this tie.

Pedro's lightning-quick opener was not unusual for Chelsea, who continually grab the first goal in matches which has helped the Premier League leaders to control matches.

Conte's side have scored first in 15 of their last 16 games and the only exception was a 2-0 defeat at Tottenham. If they don't score first the counter-attacking of Pedro and Eden Hazard is nullified and Chelsea's defence becomes more exposed.

There are great players on both sides, although the lack of United forward options plus home advantage means Chelsea are more likely to win.

But the margin of victory should be small and it would not be a major surprise if United take the match to extra-time after a score-draw. 

Two or three goals
1pt Evs Betfair, Ladbrokes

Bet on this game at

Team news
Antonio Conte can select from a fully-fit squad.

Manchester United
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is suspended, while Wayne Rooney, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial have reportedly not travelled. 

Key stat
United have scored in their last 13 away matches.

*An updated version of this article appeared after news spread of United's late absentees

Conte's side have scored first in 15 of their last 16 games and the only exception was a 2-0 defeat at Tottenham
E.W. Terms
Sky bet