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Sir Alex Ferguson has hailed Manchester United FC's ability to keep their treble prospects on course despite a raft of recent injuries, backing a well-rested Wayne Rooney to shine again when Chelsea FC visit Old Trafford bidding to overturn their 1-0 UEFA Champions League quarter-final deficit. Blues manager Carlo Ancelotti warned that his side "can still turn things around", however.
Sir Alex Ferguson, United manager
Momentum is key: it's what keeps you from going off your stride. Every game from this point on is like a cup final – the players thrive on that. In that respect I see similarities to 1999, but the circumstances are completely different as we didn't have any injuries back then. We've coped very well this season, particularly with the injuries we've had in defensive positions. Having the likes of Anderson, Rio [Ferdinand], and [Antonio] Valencia back makes an incredible difference at this time of the season. They're fresh and they know how to play for the club, so it's not like signing new players as they don't need time to adapt.
In the first leg, Wayne Rooney adapted very well to the role we asked him to play. He had to combine partly defensive duties but with an attacking thrust, so in that respect he did very well and of course he put in a good performance. He is capable of causing problems no one else can. Balance, power, speed and a great tactical brain – the boy's got everything.
The competition is an obsession for [Chelsea]; that's clearly why they signed Fernando Torres. Their owner nailed his colours to the mast in that respect a while ago. But it's a very difficult competition to win as all the best teams are in there. Look at the amazing form of Barcelona and Real Madrid. It looks likely to be a semi-final between those two, which will be fantastic.
Carlo Ancelotti, Chelsea manager
We have good memories of [winning 2-1 at Old Trafford last season], but that's history now. We've already played 90 minutes of this tie; Manchester United played better than us and are 1-0 up, but we can still turn things around. We could have done better in the first leg but we didn't deserve to lose.
We've got a great chance of having a great game. I'm not afraid and not worried; I'm just happy to have the opportunity to play in games like this and use my skill to try and get the best out of my players. We're not going to put strong pressure [on United] from the beginning as we know we need time to play our game and score. We need to be balanced as United are very dangerous on the counterattack.
Rooney is their most dangerous player; we'll have to watch out for his movement and ability. He got the better of us last time out, but we won't be changing our game or our football to cope with Rooney.
The Champions League is not an obsession, it's a dream. We're going to play in a quarter-final and we've got the chance to reach the final in three games, as do United. That memory [of losing the 2008 final to United] could be a good motivation for everyone. In football, you always get a chance to get revenge and hopefully we can take good memories away from here tomorrow.
• Manchester United
United's injury problems are easing following the return to the lineup of Anderson (knee) and John O'Shea (hamstring) for Saturday's 2-0 defeat of Fulham FC. Wes Brown (calf) was also an unused substitute. The only real concerns are Darren Fletcher (virus), who remains doubtful after missing training on Monday, and Rafael, who injured his knee in the first leg at Stamford Bridge and will undergo a late fitness test ahead of the match.
Following the return to the side of long-term injury absentees Yossi Benayoun (Achilles) and Alex (knee) for Saturday's 1-0 win against Wigan Athletic FC, Ancelotti boasts a full contingent of players to choose from for the first time this season.
Saturday: Manchester United 2-0 Fulham FC
(Berbatov 12, Valencia 32)
Despite Fulham's bright start to the match, Dimitar Berbatov's 22nd goal of the season and Antonio Valencia's strike just past the half-hour mark earned United a victory that protected their seven-point cushion at the top. United continued their excellent run at Old Trafford where they have only dropped two points this season, winning 15 out of their 16 games.
Saturday: Chelsea 1-0 Wigan Athletic FC
Florent Malouda's second-half strike was the difference between the two sides, although Fernando Torres had numerous opportunities to extend the lead and score his first for the club. Franco Di Santo and Thomas Cleverley failed to find a way past Petr Čech as the hosts held on.
Did you know?
The first encounter between the clubs was an English second division fixture at United's former Bank Street home on Christmas Day 1905, which finished goalless. United were 4-2 victors in the first fixture between the sides at Old Trafford on 26 December 1912 – 24 hours after a 4-1 victory at Stamford Bridge.
See the match background for more information.
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