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Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney has been ruled out of the FA Cup quarter-final at Chelsea, leaving his side without a recognised striker.
Rooney collided with Phil Jones in training and misses out with a leg injury, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic begins a three-game ban for elbowing Bournemouth’s Tyrone Mings.
Forwards Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford [illness] are also missing.
Chelsea coach Antonio Conte has a fully-fit squad at his disposal.
The precise nature and severity of the leg injury Rooney has sustained is not known but the England captain was unable to complete the training session and will have a scan on Monday.
No blame has been attached to Jones for the incident in what has been described as a “full-bloodied session”.
It had been expected that Rooney, 31, was going to be involved because he did not go to Russia for the Europa League last-16 meeting with FC Rostov on Thursday.
Rooney was expected to be named in Gareth Southgate’s England squad on Thursday for the friendly against Germany on 22 March and World Cup qualifier against Lithuania at Wembley on 26 March.
He became United’s record goalscorer in January, eclipsing Sir Bobby Charlton, but has played only once since 1 February and last month turned down offers to move to China in order to complete the season at Old Trafford.
WHAT THE MANAGERS SAY
Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte: “In October, before the game [won 4-0 by Chelsea], I was sure of facing a great team. It’s the same now. Manchester United have, together with [Manchester] City, the best squad in the league.
“We have a good identity. We are showing good football, but for sure it will be a really tough game against a good team.
“I hope to be favourites, but to show this on the pitch, not only in the words. The facts are on the pitch. We must talk during the game on the pitch, not before. I prefer to focus on the game, and my players to speak with facts.”
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho: “We cannot go with Nicky Butt’s team [ie players from the under-23 team, managed by Butt]. Manchester United is too big. Manchester United is the winner of the competition.
“It is not Chelsea’s fault that we were given this Monday match, so we have to make changes for sure… but we cannot go to Stamford Bridge with a Nicky Butt team.”
MOTD COMMENTATOR’S NOTES
Guy Mowbray: “Antonio Conte made nine changes for rounds three and four, and then seven for the fifth round at Wolves, but I’d be surprised if there were more than a couple for this one – if any.
“There’s a five day gap before Chelsea’s next game, and with players already talking of ‘the double’, why risk breaking the rhythm?
“United’s heavier fixture load makes Jose Mourinho’s selection plans less clear, as does the depth of a squad that Conte has – quite rightly – spoken of as being the Premier League’s strongest.
“Whoever replaces Ibrahimovic as striker has reason to shine – but not as strong as Mourinho’s reason to win. Revenge? No – it’s surely natural.”
Manchester United’s busy schedule that saw them play in Russia in the Europa League on Thursday night will obviously make a difference.
I will be fascinated to see what team United boss Jose Mourinho picks, because Chelsea are not a side you want to play when you are tired.
The Blues are cruising in the league, 10 points clear and they have to be favourites to win that and the FA Cup too. There is no better team than them in the Premier League at the moment.
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- This is the 12th time the sides have been paired together in the FA Cup. Of the 11 previous ties, Manchester United have won eight and Chelsea three.
- The Blues have prevailed in both ties since the turn of the century – winning 1-0 in the final in 2007 and 1-0 in a sixth-round replay at Stamford Bridge in 2013.
- Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 11 league and cup games against United (W6, D5), and have only conceded three times in the last nine encounters.
- The Reds have only won two of their last 19 league and cup games at Stamford Bridge (D6, L11).
- The last time Chelsea knocked the FA Cup holders out was in 1966, when they beat Liverpool in round three.
- The Blues have won 15 of their 16 home games under Antonio Conte in all competitions, including the last 12.
- The only home match they failed to win this term was a 2-1 defeat by Liverpool on 16 September.
- They have won nine of their last 10 FA Cup home games – with the exception being a 4-2 defeat by Bradford in 2015.
- Chelsea have reached the FA Cup quarter-finals 12 times in the 21st century – more than any other side.
- Pedro has scored in each round of this season’s FA Cup, scoring a total of four goals (also registering two assists).
- The last time United lost an FA Cup tie away from Old Trafford was their 1-0 defeat by Chelsea in 2013.
- The Reds have progressed in 10 of their last 13 FA Cup quarter-final ties.
- Jose Mourinho has never lost an FA Cup quarter-final.
- United’s 4-0 loss at Stamford Bridge in October was Mourinho’s heaviest defeat in English football – and his worst since his Real Madrid side lost 5-0 to Barcelona in 2010.
- This will be United’s 46th competitive game of the season, but only Chelsea’s 34th.
- Marcus Rashford has scored four goals in his six FA Cup appearances for Manchester United.
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