Jose Mourinho leads Manchester United back to Stamford Bridge ahead of FA Cup quarter-final against Chelsea

Jose Mourinho led his Manchester United squad to London on Sunday afternoon ahead of his bid for redemption against former club Chelsea.

The Red Devils caught the train from Stockport Station to the capital ahead of Monday night’s FA Cup clash with the Premier League leaders.

The match comes almost five months after Chelsea demolished Man United 4-0 on Mourinho’s return to the club that replaced him with Antonio Conte.

Defender Chris Smalling has vowed a significant improvement from their effort last time at Stamford Bridge.

Encouragingly, United haven’t smelt defeat in the league since that defeat and with the EFL Cup Mourinho now has the first major trophy of his Old Trafford tenure.

But Chelsea head into the FA Cup quarter-final as favourites with Conte’s side 10 points clear at the top of the league.

United have also returned from a long Europa League trip to Russia.

Chris Smalling, Daley Blind, Ashley Young and Phil Jones at Stockport Station
(Photo: Tony Spencer)
Marouane Fellaini is followed by Jose Mourinho
(Photo: Tony Spencer)

“Chelsea have been by far the most consistent team in the league and they deserve to be in the position where they are now,” Smalling told 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.”

Smalling, in particular, had a torrid time when Chelsea turned on the style in October.

The England defender was arguably culpable for the three of the goals, but said he was hindered by an injury which forced him off at half-time of the preceding game against Fenerbahce.

Juan Mata and Antonio Valencia on their way to Chelsea
(Photo: Tony Spencer)
Paul Pogba trails his teammates while talking on the phone
(Photo: Tony Spencer)

“In hindsight, it was probably not the game I should have played in,” Smalling said. “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.

Ander Herrera, Marcos Rojo and Anthony Martial will all be eager to play a major role at Stamford Bridge
(Photo: Tony Spencer)
Pogba attempts to remain low key at United board the train
(Photo: Tony Spencer)

“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.”

United won the FA Cup for a record-equalling 12th time last season, the 2-1 Wembley final defeat of Crystal Palace drawing them level with Arsenal in the competition.

(Photo: Tony Spencer)

But United have never successfully defended the trophy in their history.

“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,” Smalling said.

“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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