Chelsea will welcome Jose Mourinho back to Stamford Bridge when they host 11-time FA Cup winners Manchester United in a mouth-watering, quarter-final clash.
When Mourinho returned with the Red Devils in October last year, his side were demolished 4-0 while the Blues’ fans serenaded the Portuguese manager with chants of ‘you’re not special any more!’.
Mourinho, sacked twice by Chelsea, was given a generally warm welcome on his return to the club where he delivered seven trophies in two spells – but it remains to be seen whether the hospitality will be extended to his next visit.
The opportunity to extract revenge on his former employer Roman Abramovic by knocking Chelsea out of football’s most prestigious cup competition on their own patch will be motivation, not that the 54-year-old will need it.
While Antonio Conte’s Chelsea currently sit proudly at the summit of the Premier League, Manchester United are arguably the form team of the moment having lost just a solitary game since early November.
The Blues overcame a tricky tie in the last round, winning 2-0 away to Wolverhampton Wanderers thanks to goals from Pedro and Diego Costa. United, meanwhile, had to come from a goal down to Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park in order to seal their place in the draw.
After falling behind to Danny Graham’s sumptuous strike in the 17th minute, goals from 19-year-old prodigy Marcus Rashford and Zlatan Ibrahimovic sent the 7,000 travelling fans into raptures.
Conte has guided Chelsea eight points clear of second placed Manchester City and 10 ahead of London rivals Arsenal and Spurs. Now just two games from the final, the Italian will surely see the FA Cup as strong chance of adding potentially doubling his haul of silverware in his first season with West Londoners.
With no European football to distract and fatigue the squad, players such as Eden Hazard have looked back to their best this season as witnessed by his stunning solo goal in the recent 3-1 win over the Gunners.
The other games in the quarter-finals see Spurs host Millwall in what will be a fractious London derby, Arsenal take on non-league Lincoln should they avoid a giant-killing at the hands of lowly Sutton United tonight, while Middlesbrough face the winners of a replay between Huddersfield and Man City.