Chelsea defender David Luiz has warned Manchester United that his team are determined to add to their rivals' misery when they clash in the FA Cup quarter-finals this weekend. United are still reeling from their agonising Champions League last 16 exit against Real Madrid on Tuesday and the fall-out from Alex Ferguson's surprise decision to drop Wayne Rooney for the showdown with the Spanish giants.
Several reports claim Rooney could be sold in the close-season as Ferguson no longer trusts the England forward to keep himself in shape, prompting Luiz to admit he would love to increase United's distress by knocking them out of the Cup at Old Trafford on Sunday. "Sunday's a big game. All the world wants to watch this game and Chelsea go to Manchester to win," Luiz said.
Chelsea have little chance of catching United in the Premier League title race and winning the Cup for the fifth time in seven seasons would offer some solace for the holders and their beleaguered interim manager Rafael Benitez. And, with Benitez in charge only until May, Brazil star Luiz believes it is imperative the players, dogged by reports of dressing room unrest, work together to salvage the campaign.
"This is the key for big clubs to win titles and win games," said Luiz. "In Chelsea we have a strong team, strong changing room. All the players play together.
"It's difficult sometimes when we've lost games. People speak a lot. But I think in Chelsea we have a great family, great players and the players to support this pressure."
Things did not improve for Chelsea on Thursday, however, when they slumped to a 1-0 defeat at Steaua Bucharest in the Europa League. For United's bitter rivals Manchester City, who host Championship strugglers Barnsley, the Cup represents their last realistic chance to win some silverware in a disappointing season.
Even City boss Roberto Mancini admits his team have only a faint opportunity of making up the 12-point gap to United in the league, but the club's Argentine defender Pablo Zabaleta offered hope for a positive end to the campaign as he hailed the revitalised Carlos Tevez.
Tevez missed most of last season after going into exile following a touchline row with Mancini, but he has finally recaptured peak form of late, scoring the winner at Aston Villa on Monday after notching a fine strike against Chelsea the previous week.
"Everybody makes mistakes and the positive thing is Carlos came back again and his commitment for the club and team has been 100 percent, so full credit to him for that," Zabaleta said.
"He is back to his best and he scored a fantastic goal against Chelsea and I think he's been great all season. His work-rate is fantastic."
Meanwhile, Everton midfielder Leon Osman has warned his team-mates not to underestimate struggling Wigan when they meet at Goodison Park. David Moyes' team are 21 points ahead of Wigan in the Premier League, but Osman believes that will count for nothing in the Cup, especially after two testing league encounters with the Latics this season.
"The two games we have had against Wigan have been right up there with the toughest we have had," Osman said.
"We have taken four points from the games but they haven't come easily and we know what to expect come Saturday."
There will be at least one second-tier team in the semi-finals as Millwall face fellow Championship club Blackburn at the Den. Both sides have struggled of late, but Blackburn manager Michael Appleton believes the return to fitness of former Newcastle striker Leon Best could make the difference against 2004 Cup runners-up Millwall.
"The thought of having him available week-in and week-out certainly whets the appetite, gives me options, and he is a player opposition teams won't fancy coming up against," Appleton said.