Smalling: We want to make amends
Chris Smalling says Manchester United are determined to leave Chelsea’s stadium on Monday night with a very different feeling to the one which followed the Reds’ previous visit.
United endured a day to forget when the two sides last met at Stamford Bridge on 23 October, with a performance described by Smalling as “one of our worst” resulting in a heavy 4-0 defeat to Jose Mourinho’s former team.
Almost five months on, the Reds have not lost in the league since then and are in much stronger form going into the Emirates FA Cup quarter-final tie against the title-race front-runners.
“Chelsea have been by far the most consistent team in the league and they deserve to be in the position where they are now,” acknowledged Smalling in a pre-match interview with MUTV.
“But I think we are on a good run and we will give a much better account of ourselves than we did last time.”
The 27-year-old centre-back felt he might have been hindered by an injury on the October trip to West London, after coming off at half-time in the preceding 4-1 win over Fenerbahce in the Europa League.
“In hindsight, it was probably not the game I should have played in,” he reflected. “But as a player you try to push yourself and force yourself to play in all sorts of games. That was a big one and I am a player who doesn’t want to miss those games.
“In the lead-up to that week, we had drawn with Liverpool and won in Europe too so we were starting to build up momentum. Then that game at Chelsea completely knocked us – it was definitely one of our worst performances of the season. But from then on we have kicked on and done a lot better.
“I think we all learned a lot of things from that game and, not only do we have progress in this competition to play for, we also have our pride as well.
“The FA Cup is a tough trophy to defend and looking at previous records, not many people have been able to do it and I know United haven’t. So to be a part of history by retaining the Cup would be brilliant.
“We’re in the quarter-finals already and we can see the finishing line is not too far away if we play as well as we can.”
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