The Observer, Anna Kessel: “Six-one, what a washout – or so you might think. Second from top versus second from bottom in the entire league: really, you had to be there. Andriy Shevchenko battling with the defenders of Macclesfield Town was in itself a marvel – a year ago you couldn’t have made it up. Throw in a Macclesfield equaliser, a goalkeeper’s sending-off, the visitors down to nine men, and six thrilling goals from the boys in blue. And the visitors, battling relegation, bagged half a million quid in the process. Yesterday, playing at Stamford Bridge must have been a scintillating blur.”
Sunday Telegraph, Clive White: “It might sound ridiculous to suggest such a thing, given the scoreline, but it was just as well Chelsea were playing Macclesfield yesterday, because, on the first half’s evidence, during which the League Two side trailed 2-1, they could well have been dropping more points to Manchester United.”
Sunday Times, Joe Lovejoy: “Second in the Premiership versus second bottom in the professional pyramid, the contrast between the two sides could scarcely have been more marked. Ince is forging a managerial reputation in League Two with a motley crew ”” well, the goalkeeper was Tommy Lee ”” of free transfer casts-offs, some of whom are on £400 per week. This was their cup final, and they deserved rather more from it.”
Independent on Sunday, Jason Burt: “In the contest of the self-styled Special One against the self-styled Guv’nor, Mourinho should be less happy with his day’s work than Paul Ince but he was in feisty mood afterwards. He said it made him “laugh” that three Premiership draws had led to headlines, even in Portugal, referring to his “dark moment” while a statement praising Shevchenko’s work-rate was punctuated by the pay-off that “in some matches I cannot say that”.”
A welcome diversion from the frustrations of the Premiership, and an opportunity for a couple of fringe players to prove their worth.
The magic of the FA Cup comes from the chance of giant-killing, and Macclesfield Town will view this game as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to cause one of the biggest shocks in the history of the competition.
And if ever there’s a good time to play Chelsea, it’s now as Jose Mourinho struggles with injuries and poor form.
He is without John Terry, Khalid Boulahrouz, Joe Cole, Arjen Robben, Petr Cech and Carlo Cudicini, but is expected to include Frank Lampard, Michael Essien and Michael Ballack as he seeks to win the only major domestic trophy that has so far eluded him.
Yves Ma Kalambay, Scott Sinclair, Ben Sahar and Michael Woods have been called up from the reserve team squad.
Macclesfield’s fortunes have improved considerably since Manchester United legend Paul Ince took charge, and they travel to Stamford Bridge on a run of seven wins and a draw in all competitions. They currently lie second from bottom in League Two.
39 year-old Ince, who was a member of the United side that thrashed the Blues 4-0 at Wembley in 1994, is eligible to play for the Silkmen but has decided to keep faith with those players who have done so well for him in recent weeks.
John Murphy is available to start up front after extending his loan spell from Blackpool, but defender Rob Scott is still struggling with a calf problem and looks set to miss out.
This is the third season in a row Chelsea have been drawn at home in the Third Round to a club from the bottom two divisions. Two years ago Scunthorpe United took an early lead and lost 3-1, last season Huddersfield equalised but lost 2-1.
Chelsea have never before played Macclesfield in a competitive game.