Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer claims it is unfair Chelsea have an extra two days of rest before their FA Cup semi-final showdown on Sunday. Solskjaer’s side face Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Thursday before returning to London three days later to play Chelsea at Wembley.
While United endure that hectic schedule, Chelsea will have been resting since Tuesday’s 1-0 win over Norwich. United also played on Monday in a 2-2 draw against Southampton, with Chelsea in action at Sheffield United last Saturday.
There is little opportunity for Solskjaer to rest players against Palace as United are chasing a top-four finish in the race to qualify for the Champions League. United are currently fifth, behind Leicester on goal difference and four points adrift of third-placed Chelsea. Solskjaer is concerned that United’s bid to reach the FA Cup final is being jeopardised by the fixture schedule.
“There is a concern, obviously, that they’ve had 48 hours’ more rest and recovery than us. It’s not fair,” Solskjaer told reporters on Wednesday. “We spoke about a fair scheduling going into this restart. Of course it isn’t. But I have to think about Thursday. We’ve got to win that one, focus on that one, and then let’s pick up the pieces after that.”
Solskjaer is adamant the semi-final is “irrelevant” when it comes to his selection against Palace at Selhurst Park.
He believes United have the energy and drive to cope with the taxing programme despite fitness concerns over Mason Greenwood, Luke Shaw and Brandon Williams. “We’ve not really played every three days – we will now, definitely,” Solskjaer said.
“The next two weeks will be hectic but, then again, we’re fit. Very fit. Our lads have not felt as fit as this for years, I’m sure. It was a big thing towards the end of last season that we felt our team wasn’t fit enough, we got a few injuries. This season we’ve not had that kind of a problem.
“No, it’s not going to be a problem and a concern for us but 24 hours, 48 hours is a big difference at this time as well.”