Football

'United are too big to field bad team'

Mourinho will not rest big guns against Chelsea ahead of Europa League last-16, second-leg match

Holders Manchester United will not field a weakened team when they travel to Stamford Bridge for Tuesday morning's (Singapore time) FA Cup quarter-final against Chelsea despite their congested fixture schedule, manager Jose Mourinho said.

United play Russian side Rostov in the second leg of the Europa League last-16 stage next Thursday before travelling to Middlesbrough in the Premier League on Sunday, to complete a run of three games in 10 days.

Mourinho, whose team were held to a 1-1 first-leg draw at Rostov yesterday morning (Singapore time), said he would rotate his squad for the Chelsea clash but not fill it with youngsters from interim Under-23 manager Nicky Butt's team.

MAKE CHANGES

"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 bad team," the Portuguese said after the match in Russia.

"Manchester United are too big. Manchester United are the winners of the competition."

Mourinho is hopeful the obstacle of a trip to Chelsea in the FA Cup does not hinder his side's prospects of completing a last-16 win over Rostov.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan's first-half opener was cancelled out by an Aleksandr Bukharov strike shortly after the break, but it was a good result after a long trip for a match played on a shocking surface at the Olimp 2 stadium - so bad that Mourinho had questioned whether the match should have gone ahead at all.

Mourinho acknowledged the importance of the Europa League as a potential route into next season's Champions League for a team currently sitting sixth in the Premier League.

"We want to keep the two goals open. In the Europa League, if you manage to go to the quarter-finals, then in the quarter-finals, you feel it so we have to try by every means," said Mourinho, whose side have already won the League Cup this season.

"We have a trophy in our pocket which is always a good thing, a good feeling for everyone.

"But now, we have the Premier league to try to be in the top four, we have the Europa League to try to beat Rostov."

United, who have not won at Stamford Bridge since 2012, were beaten 4-0 on their last visit to Chelsea last October, Mourinho's first visit to his former club since he moved to Old Trafford at the start of the season.

Midfielder Marouane Fellaini said that United will approach the quarter-final against Chelsea with confidence rather than apprehension.

Fellaini started October's humbling loss, but there appears little hangover as the FA Cup holders return to the runaway Premier League leaders.

TOUGH GAME

"It will be a tough game," the Belgium international said.

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

"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.

"Of course, they are confident, so let's go there and see what we can do."

Striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic begins a three-match domestic ban for his elbow on Bournemouth's Tyrone Mings last weekend. - WIRE SERVICES

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