Man Utd and Chelsea both warmed up for their respective FA Cup quarter final replays with comfortable wins in the Premiership. United were rampant and dispensing with Bolton 4-1, while Chelsea saw off Sheffield Utd 3-0. With United still missing Saha,Solskjaer, van de Saar, Evra and Silvestre through injury and Paul Scholes still serving the second match of a three game suspension, as well as Henrik Larrson’s loan spell over, many would have felt that neighbours Bolton would prove to be a stern test of Uniteds title credentials. If so they passed with flying colours thanks to a mesmerising performance from Christina Ronaldo. On current form it is hard to argue against him being the best player in the world and he is gaining the consistency that the likes of Ronaldinho are losing. He set up the first three United goals before being taken off with Mondays game in mind. His link up play with Rooney is at times telepathic and must have the United faithful praying he signs a contract extension soon. Rooney and Park each bagged a brace, and Speed netted a consolation penalty late on for Bolton. For Chelsea all three goals were scored by players brought in at the begining of the season, with Shevchenko, Kalou and Ballack all hitting the back of the net. Both teams now have two nights off before they are back in action again in the FA Cup quarter final replays. United need a Ronaldo penalty to survive in the original tie against Middlesbrough, while Chelsea had to come from 1-3 down to rescue a draw and a replay against Spurs. While both Middlesbrough and Spurs in particular will be encouraged and buoyed by their performances in these matches there is still the lingering feeling that they may have let their chance slip away. Rarely would they have had a better chance of putting the two best teams in the country out of the worlds most famous knock out competition. While United and Chelsea both had comfortable wins this weekend, their opponents had mixed fortunes. Spurs enjoyed a 3-0 win over Watford which included a goal for their keeper Paul Robinson, while Boro were beaten 2-0 by a Man City team who had lost their previous five games. At home, against an inconsistent Middlesbrough team, United should have enough to get through to the semi final at the second time of asking. Middlesbrough were unlucky not to hold out to victory at the Riverside and will be hoping for a similar brave performance at Old Trafford. If United strike early the game could be over by half time. Middlesbrough’s best hope is to keep it tight and try to hold out for as long as possible and hitting United with a late sucker punch as the nerves and attention eat away at the United players and crowd. The Chelsea v Spurs game could be harder to call. Spurs are enjoying a good run of form which is also seeing them scoring freely. Chelsea are getting the results but are still not looking convincing at the back, particularly in the centre.If Spurs can repeat the performances they have had against Chelsea this season, having beaten and drawn with them, they could very well complete a great run of results against their London neighbours and knock them out of the cup. They will need to hit the Chelsea backline early win the pace of Lennon and guile of Keane and Berbatov. They will also need to dig deep and concentrate harder if they they do take the lead and not let Chelsea back into the match again. While Chelsea have looked vulnerable at the back they do possess players like Essien and Drogba who will never give up and be up for any challenge. The heart of Chelsea’s play lies with Essien and Lampard and Spurs will have to deny them the ball as much as they can. Predictions for Monday night? I see United getting past Middlesbrough comfortably and Spurs edging out Chelsea in an absorbing, entertaining match. Monday night should prove to be a great FA Cup evening.
Boro and Spurs get second crack at big guns